“Beatriz,” as the 22-year-old pregnant woman in El Salvador was known, has now been delivered of a fetus that could not have lived. Beatriz is fine. She could have lost her life had the pregnancy continued. In another story out of El Salvador, the attending another Salvadoran woman named Melanie speaks of having performed an abortion to end Melanie’s 8+-week ectopic pregnancy, and Melanie says she was never worried about losing her life.
But the reality is that politics and religion control the issue of abortion in El Salvador; the woman and her physician are shuttled pretty far aside. (Melanie’s physician describes herself as “deeply religious.” She apparently has some coincidental belief that allows her to perform when necessary.) Down near the end of these stories are statistics about the number of women and physicians who have been convicted of the crime of abortion. There are not a lot of them; but if you were one of them it can’t be good news.
The U.S. is happily not El Salvador. But there are certainly plenty of politicians, and not a few religiously motivated others, who seek to criminalize abortion. It is, in their view,under any circumstance.
My question is: Who knew best what should be done in the above cases? The El Salvadoran government? The? Or perhaps Beatriz, Melanie and their physicians? Who knows better than the woman and her physician in the U.S.?
Sometimes, only personal stories tell truth.
(Unpaid plug: there are a lot of personal stories in my new book, Perilous Times: An inside look at abortion before – and after – Roe v Wade. You’re invited to consider them and I welcome your thoughts.)