Society Fails A Teenager Who Wants An Abortion, Now Her Mom Is Going To Jail

You know how for the last, oh, several decades, pro-choice activists have been saying, “Look, if you make safe, doctor-supervised abortions harder to get, women are just going to go back to unsafe hanger abortions”? Well, it’s true. A Pennsylvania nursing home aide, Jennifer Whalen, is now going to serve 12 to 18 months in jail because she bought abortion pills from Europe for her 16-year-old daughter, who wanted to terminate her pregnancy and wound up in the hospital after having severe side effects.

Dan Savage gets straight to the real point, here: Jennifer Whalen works full time for poverty-level wages. The nearest abortion clinic is an hour-and-a-half drive away, but in Pennsylvania the law states that a woman of any age has to receive state-supervised counseling meant to discourage her from an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure. Because Whalen couldn’t viably miss two days of work when she’s trying to provide for herself and her daughter, she tried — under duress — to provide her daughter with the abortion she wanted, and now she’s going to jail. Here are all the problems I have with this situation:

  • I do not know of a single woman who just gets abortions willy-nilly without thinking about it thoroughly beforehand. Why do we keep treating women as if our brains are half-absent when it comes to important life decisions?
  • Why is the counseling designed to dissuade you from an abortion? It’s your life, you know better than the state what’s going to be most beneficial in your life, what’s reasonable to expect from your body, and what you consider morally acceptable. I mean, if we were operating under the guise that this is merely an attempt to provide women with all available options before they go ahead and get an abortion, we should counsel pregnant women who want to go through with their pregnancies in favor of getting an abortion, too. Hey, it’s an option.
  • Excuse me for elaborating on my own politics for a minute, but why is it that there are so many conservative-oriented people who call liberalism “fascist” for supporting the idea of a government that regulates things, yet they work so hard to institutionalize their own life choices with no respect for the autonomy of people who would make different choices?
  • Pro-lifers DGAF about children outside the womb: Now this teenaged girl is going to be living without her parent because her parent did the best she could to take care of her under really difficult circumstances.

I second Dan Savage: If anyone starts a Kickstarter to provide this family with resources for legal fees and living expenses, I will donate.

[The Stranger]