The War on Women Continues: Planned Parenthood Ends Nonsurgical Abortions in Wisconsin

Oh, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, you've done it again.
Publish date:
April 25, 2012
abortion, sara benincasa, Scott Walker, wisconsin

Maintaining a peaceful face while I rage inwardly against the Walker machine.

Now, I'm not trying to beat a dead horse about how hard Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker sucks, but he is seriously constantly coming up with more reasons for me to despise him.

And I'll admit, hating Scott Walker wouldn't be my first instinct. He's rather a comely dude, in fact. Looks like the kind of adorable but smart gent that both your mother and father would immediately like, the type of fellow who could pal around with your kid brother and be nice to your grandmother. But it turns out he is just the devil in flat-front pants.

Let us go now to my favorite news source, the Sheboygan Press (say it three times fast) for the latest on why Scott Walker is the living worst.

Planned Parenthood ended nonsurgical abortions at its Wisconsin clinics Friday because of a new state law that subjects doctors who perform abortions but don't follow certain procedures to criminal penalties.

The law, signed by Gov. Scott Walker two weeks ago after the Republican-controlled state Legislature passed it earlier this year, took effect Friday.

It mandates that women having nonsurgical abortions visit the same doctor three times and that doctors ensure the woman is having the procedure voluntarily and without coercion.

Exccuse me for a moment while I take a second just for me: AUUUUUUUGGGGGH!

Now, did Walker explicitly outlaw nonsurgical abortions in Wisconsin? No. But like the ill-intentioned thug he is, he found a way to make it as difficult as possible for women to access a perfectly legal service. Apparently, Planned Parenthood is concerned that its abortion providers could face felonies if they don't follow Walker's absurd instructions to the letter.

For folks who don't know, let's get clear on what a nonsurgical abortion actually is. During what Planned Parenthood calls a "medication abortion," a pregnant woman first takes an abortion pill that blocks the production of the hormone progesterone, thereby initiating the breakdown of the uterine lining. This takes place at a clinic and ends the pregnancy. Within three days, the woman then takes a second pill, misoprostol, which induces cramps and heavy bleeding in order to empty the uterus. Planned Parenthood describes it as being similar to an early miscarriage. In other words, it's not a walk on the fucking beach.

Look, I don't want to have an abortion. I don't know anyone who wants to have an abortion, despite some right-wingers' fantasies that all us liberal gals love to get knocked up on purpose in our downtime -- preferably by men of a different skin color, just to UP THE ANTE -- and then have abortion parties where we listen to Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos and smoke pot while high-fiving evil doctors at Planned Parenthood health centers (all of which turn into drug-filled sex discos after the protesters leave).

But the truth is that if I found out I was pregnant today, I'd most likely seek an abortion tomorrow. Thankfully, I live in New York rather than in a state like Wisconsin where I'd be legally required to ask a doctor three times before possibly, maybe, if I'm lucky, being granted permission to exercise my legal right as an American female.

I mean, when the hell do you have to ask for something thrice before getting it? It's not like I'm trying to convert to Judaism or guess Rumpelstiltskin's name. I'm not spinning straw into gold here; I'm terminating an unwanted pregnancy. And despite my oft-irreverent attitude toward the subject, it's not actually something I'd take lightly.

I'm not saying it has to be a big deal for every woman. I'm also not saying it wouldn't be a relief to eliminate an unwanted pregnancy. But it would be a major event in my life, potentially a traumatic one because of the guilt and shame I might experience. I'm not talking about the kind of guilt and shame that indicate that one ought not participate in a certain activity. I'm talking about the kind of guilt and shame that result from social stigma, a type of emotional pain I might not experience if I'd grown up in, say, Scandinavia, where abortion is far less stigmatized than it is here in the United States.

So if I chose to have an abortion, I'd be far likelier to choose a nonsurgical abortion so that I could go through the physical and emotional experience at home, hopefully in the company of a trusted friend, if not my partner. I'd feel emotionally safer at home, better able to deal with the vast array of feelings that would undoubtedly arise.

As a former pro-lifer (or anti-choicer, however you want to characterize it), I get that my opinion seems ludicrous to the other side. Old Me would say, "Who the hell does this girl think she is? Of course she should feel shame and guilt and as much discomfort as possible while murdering her baby. She's not just getting a tooth pulled."

But New Me, who is more compassionate to the needs of women in different circumstances, who has taught high school and seen young girls become mothers at far too early an age, who has known adult women whose livelihoods and futures were saved by an abortion -- that me knows that life is never as simple and clear-cut as those who see the world in black and white would have us believe.

The reality of women in America does not mirror Scott Walker's version of reality. Perhaps the governor of Wisconsin ought to have some real, honest conversations with a diverse array of female constituents who, unlike him, actually have to deal with the repercussions of his actions.