The NYT Magazine has a piece by Jack Hitt about El Salvador’s strong criminalization of abortion that might as well have came straight from the NARAL propaganda factory. Mixed in with anecdotes about poor women stigmatized by unwanted pregnancies, we get this type of objective journalism:
More than a dozen countries have liberalized their abortion laws in recent years, including South Africa, Switzerland, Cambodia and Chad. In a handful of others, including Russia and the United States (or parts of it), the movement has been toward criminalizing more and different types of abortions. In South Dakota, the governor recently signed the most restrictive abortion bill since the Supreme Court ruled in 1973, in Roe v. Wade, that state laws prohibiting abortion were unconstitutional. The South Dakota law, which its backers acknowledge is designed to test Roe v. Wade in the courts, forbids abortion, including those cases in which the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest. Only if an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother is the procedure permitted. A similar though less restrictive bill is now making its way through the Mississippi Legislature.
In this new movement toward criminalization, El Salvador is in the vanguard. The array of exceptions that tend to exist even in countries where abortion is circumscribed — rape, incest, fetal malformation, life of the mother — don’t apply in El Salvador. They were rejected in the late 1990’s, in a period after the country’s long civil war ended. The country’s penal system was revamped and its constitution was amended. Abortion is now absolutely forbidden in every possible circumstance. No exceptions.
There are other countries in the world that, like El Salvador, completely ban abortion, including Malta, Chile and Colombia. El Salvador, however, has not only a total ban on abortion but also an active law-enforcement apparatus — the police, investigators, medical spies, forensic vagina inspectors and a special division of the prosecutor’s office responsible for Crimes Against Minors and Women, a unit charged with capturing, trying and incarcerating an unusual kind of criminal. Like the woman I was waiting to meet.
Why, how could the United States even think of becoming more like those backward countries? Of course, aren’t Mississippi and South Dakata essentially third world countries, anyway, filled with Jesus loving backwards ass redneck hicks?
Now, granted, there is no move anywhere in the United States to apply criminal sanctions to women who seek abortions. Indeed, even in pre-Roe America (aka, “the Dark Ages”) sanctions applied only to doctors and facilities that performed the procedure.
Deep into the piece, we get this:
“Back-alley abortion” is a term that has long been part of the abortion debate. In the United States, in the years since Roe v. Wade, it has come to seem metaphorical, perhaps even hyperbolic, but it happens to conjure precisely D.C. [Note, this is an anonymous woman whose name is being protected to protect her from the Religious Zealots Who Would Deny a Woman Her Right to Choose (to kill her baby), not the town where Abortion Hater Bush lives]’s experience. And it’s easy in El Salvador to find plenty of evidence that D.C.’s story is neither isolated nor the worst case. A report by the Center for Reproductive Rights offers this grim list of tools used in clandestine abortions: “clothes hangers, iron bars, high doses of contraceptives, fertilizers, gastritis remedies, soapy water and caustic agents (such as car battery acid).” That list is meant to disgust a reader in the same way that imagery of mangled fetuses is meant to when employed by those who oppose abortion. But the criminalization of abortion in the modern age, in El Salvador at least, is not so simple as a grim return to the back alley. For the most part, the new law has not resulted in a spike in horror stories of painful and botched clandestine procedures.
To begin with, when a woman might face jail time for an abortion, she’s less likely to discuss her pregnancy at all. According to a study on attempted suicide and teen pregnancy published last year by academics at the University of El Salvador, some girls who poison their wombs with agricultural pesticide (its efficacy being a Salvadoran urban legend) would rather report the cause of their resulting hospital visit as “attempted suicide,” which is not as felonious a crime nor as socially unbearable as abortion. “They don’t want to be interviewed about abortion,” Irma Elizabeth Asencio, one of the study’s authors, explained to me. “They know they have committed a crime.”
Abortion as it exists in El Salvador today tends to operate on three levels. The well-off retain the “right to choose” that comes of simply having money. They can fly to Miami for an abortion, or visit the private office of a discreet and well-compensated doctor. Among the very poor, you can still find the back-alley world described by D.C. and the others who turn up in hospitals with damaged or lacerated wombs. Then there are the women in the middle; they often rely on home-brewed cures that are shared on the Internet or on a new underground railroad that has formed to aid them.
Yes, women do not wish to have a baby would have no options other than ingesting battery acid or trying to kill themselves were abortion not legal. After all, babies have been known to appear in wombs as if by magic. Further, there is no way for sexually active people to avoid getting pregnant. And who, aside from thousands of people on waiting lists for adoption, would want a baby, anyway?
Since an America that banned abortion would be just like El Salvador, those religious zealous from Jesusland must be stopped. A Pro-Life Nation is clearly a horrible place, indeed. It would be like going back in time to 1972, except with modern medicine.