Friday, September 16, 2011

When abortion was illegal....

Cross-posted at We've Had Enough.

I had the incredible privilege of speaking with Linn Duvall Harwell, one of the founders of the Clara Bell Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project at the ACLU about the recent legislative attacks on reproductive rights. During our conversation, Linn shared with me that her husband is in hospice care and doesn’t have long to live. The fact that she wanted to take time to speak with me during such a difficult moment points to her steadfast, lifelong commitment to the issue of reproductive freedom for women.

Linn Harwell’s mother, Clara Bell Duvall was the victim of an unsafe abortion in the 1920s, well before abortion was legalized under Roe V. Wade in 1973. This tragic event stayed with her and became the catalyst for her career and commitment to women’s reproductive rights activism.

During our conversation, she shared her disgust with proposed Senate Bill 732 and said, “I am appalledto witness the continuity of that effort from many years ago to reinstate those kinds of restrictions. For me, it all equals restrictions for women.”

She believes that supporters of the anti-abortion movement lack knowledge of the conditions that existed before Roe V. Wade and “do not know the history that preceded Roe v. Wade and why Roe v. Wade came to be.”

She urges Pennsylvanians to open their eyes to the gravity of the issue and reminds us of a time when things were not so easy, a time that could become a reality once again if we do not take action. “Please don’t take these things for granted. Call your representative and tell them where you are and what you need to prevent tragedies in the public health of our nation,” she said.

She stressed the importance of men’s participation in the effort and believes that educating men about reproductive health and preventative medicine would provide them with a basis to take action. “The relationship of the man who is relating to the woman in need is essential and we are neglecting educating men on this issue,” she said. She believes that her husband’s unwavering support has been a strong presence in her career as an activist and in her role as a mother.

Linn believes "We've Had Enough" could transform the movement:“All my life I have regretted the nature of my mother’s death and so I have worked for women I have never known and I would love to see Pennsylvania pick up and care about people that they don’t know.”

Katherine in Philly

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Blogger Emily Kreps said...

How about the unsafe abortions that happened at the Gosnell clinic in Philadelphia in the past decade and more? Are abortions suddenly safe because they're legal?

SB 732 simply adds more safety regulations to abortion clinics, bringing them to the same standards as every other facility performing surgeries in the state. It's about safety.

Women deserve better in Pennsylvania!

4:30 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

Emily, the Gosnell clinic was a travesty, but it could have (and should have) been shut down under existing regulations. In fact, many reproductive rights advocates, including some of us at the ACLU, tried repeatedly to call attention to the wrongdoing at the Gosnell clinic and have them shut down. We were ignored.

There's an article exploring the reasons why here:

The proposed regulations currently pending are NOT about safety and health. They are using safety as a cover story to shut down abortion access almost entirely, for the same ideological reasons that these same people have been trying to shut down abortion access for decades.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Andy said...

If sb 732/hb 574 is about women's safety, why is it that not a single medical association supports either bill?

9:34 AM  
Anonymous Keanus said...

Andy is correct that no professional medical group supports the passage of SB 732, but at least one, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, publicly opposes it.

And to expand on Chris's comment that the ACLU brought Gosnell's clinic to the attention of the State of Pennsylvania years before it was closed down, so did Planned Parenthood and the obstetrical staff at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, all going back over a decade before action was taken. The state ignored complaints, failed to inspect the clinic as the law prescribed, and failed to enforce the law by closing the clinic.

Lack of laws was not the problem. Lack of enforcement was.

11:21 AM  

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