Around the world one woman dies every ten minutes for lack of access to abortion.
In Pennsylvania, one 39 year-old mother is now in jail because of lack of access to abortion.
Of course, technically abortion is legal in Pennsylvania. But reality and theory often collide.
Three years ago Jennifer Whalen’s 16 year-old daughter came to her, pregnant and asking for help. The nearest abortion clinic was 75 miles away. Pennsylvania law requires women to get counseling, and then wait 24 hours before having the procedure.
The family had one car. The mother works as a personal care aid in an assisted-living facility. Her daughter was not covered by health insurance. A first trimester abortion generally costs $300 to $600. The girl did research and found medication they could order online for $45 that would induce miscarriage.
The family did not know a prescription was required for medicine. The misoprostol and mifepristone worked as expected, but the pain was greater than expected.
Mother took daughter to the hospital for care. Fortunately the girl was fine, but hospital reported mom to state child-protective services.
And now she is in jail serving a 9 to 18 month sentence.
Read Emily Bazelon’s story in New York Times for a fuller and very thoughtful article about the family.
Abortion laws, as other laws, are not abstract things, but go deeply into very personal matters. And abortion laws go perhaps into the most personal areas of life.
If the traditional methods had been available, the family would have used them. If the family had greater means, of course, their options would have been better. If not for the waiting requirement, they might have been able to go that route.
As I see it, family did the best they could given the situation. Of course online pharmacies are not always safe. The drugs could’ve been bogus. But that was not the problem here.
The problem is that a woman who helped her daughter is now sitting in jail, and her other younger daughter is deprived of a mother.
And can anyone fine me a single man sitting in jail for ordering Viagra without a prescription?