The Biden-Harris Food and Drug Administration just gave the green light to abortion pills by mail. They are using the coronavirus pandemic as cover, even as people are getting vaccinated and things are opening up. It’s disingenuous and it is cruel. Girls who find themselves pregnant frequently have no idea that a chemical abortion is an abortion. They think it’s birth control. They think it’s the responsible thing to do. I’ve heard this from multiple 17-year-old black girls in recent weeks. If you have a Black Lives Matter sign, can we agree that a pregnant girl should know what she’s doing and know she has other options? It’s different in Louisiana, where there is some genuinely informed consent. But on the streets of Manhattan, there is nothing of the sort.
In fact, some days outside the Planned Parenthood abortion clinic on Bleecker and Mott Streets, there is an intimidating man who looks a little like a bouncer, waving girls in so they can’t talk to a pro-life sidewalk counselor who simply wants them to know that there are other options. There are people who will walk with them. I’ve seen girls smile when I tell them that there are joyful women — Catholic “nuns” — who will walk with them. (Technically, nuns are cloistered. The Sisters of Life, who are a ten-minute Uber ride away, or less, from Manhattan’s Planned Parenthood, are contemplative and active. And the active part is all about making sure that girls and women know they have options and a safe haven to think and be loved so that they can love with the fullness of love they don’t even know they are capable of as they panic and are being pressured.) Sometimes contact is made, but sometimes the pressure at home is too great. This is not women’s empowerment. This is not health care. This is the immiseration of women by law and ideology and families, living in a culture that seems to not only demand but prefer this most intimate violence.
Abortion by mail makes sense only if abortion, again, is your priority and preference. If Planned Parenthood is more important to you than human life and flourishing. Are we really on this earth to end the life of a developing baby so that the bar exam can be taken and a career be preeminent? What about love? Do we set girls and boys up for this? From the scene outside abortion clinics I’ve frequented, absolutely not. Sex is clearly nothing special, it’s what you do, like filling your water bottle and taking your birth control and having your abortions. A few days ago, I watched as a pro-life sidewalk counselor was talking with a girl (17, black) about how the baby develops and how there is help if she wants to have the baby, even to help a couple who can’t have a baby biologically. “I don’t care. I don’t have time. It’s fine, but it doesn’t matter to me. I don’t care.” I’m sorry, that was not free choice. That was enslavement to something dark in our culture that is suffocating and strangling the possibility of joy.
A political party and ideology of sexual revolutionary values should care about these girls and women having some medical supervision as they are dealing with a cocktail of drugs starving the baby within them to death and forcing the baby to be expelled from the uterus. The second pill, misoprostol, causes contractions. Does anyone care what is going on in the heart and mind and soul of a child going through this and the side effects — physical and otherwise? Girls and women taking the pills can experience bleeding and nausea, vomiting, chills, fever, and more.
Pro-life doctors have raised concerns about the safety of these pills, about emergency-room visits and even deaths tied to them. And according to the Guttmacher Institute (friends of Planned Parenthood), chemical abortions have skyrocketed — from about 71,000 in 2001 to 340,000 in 2017. The number of abortions in America increased in 2018, and when all is said and done, to judge from a lot of anecdotal evidence, I think we will someday realize that COVID-19 was a boon for abortion — especially in states run by Democratic governors who were sure to keep abortions happening at the height of shutdown, even when people couldn’t get lifesaving procedures. At a time when we were talking about saving lives, access to life-ending procedures and pills was protected. The coronavirus pandemic and this recent move are a gift to manufacturers and providers, but not to girls and women who suffer.
We all have become too used to abortion. And the FDA’s move for abortion by mail only makes it more hidden, more remote from the lives of anyone other than the girl left to her dorm room or wherever else to deal with the reality of ending the developing life inside her. Whatever you think about abortion, that’s what’s happening. Shouldn’t it be a matter of common ground for people of good will to not abandon girls in this way, to be alone with this? And to make sure that the girls know that there are other options? Why are the abortion industry and the Democratic Party and abortion-clinic “escorts” so afraid of information and accompaniment when it comes to abortion? Women deserve better. And we will never be a more tender people without some serious examination of this bloody cruelty.
This column is based on one available through Andrews McMeel Universal’s Newspaper Enterprise Association.