Does the headline from the 2005 Dallas Morning News shake you to your foundation? Did you realize that MURDER is the number one cause of death of pregnant women in the United States? Two studies published in recent years have shed light on the problem of maternal homicides: A 2003 study in the American College of Nurse-Midwives' Journal of Midwifery & Women's Health identified homicide as the leading cause of death among pregnant women. That conclusion also was reached in a study published in 2001 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
I don't think people realize how dangerous pregnancy can be for some women. This morning's headlines on Jessie Davis' death in Ohio is a very grim reminder that it is not a bed of roses for pregnant women. We have NO IDEA what a pregnant woman is going through. None. Do we American's have a social contract with pregnant women?
Pregnant women. Let's just focus this Sunday morning on pregnant women. We can discuss contraception at another time as for pregnant women it is a TOO LATE. For now, we are beyond contraception as we have a PREGNANT WOMAN before us. Do we as Americans owe this woman ANYTHING?
I happen to think we owe this woman a great deal if we want HEALTHY FAMILIES...which requires HEALTHY WOMEN. This is where healthy the family starts...and CAN END TRAGICALLY.
Right now pregnant women are denied quality abortion care in many parts of the United States. To see women denied abortion care you only have to look to Mississippi. PBS Frontline did a wonderful documentary entitled The Last Abortion Clinic which chronicles the ramification of Mississippi being left with only ONE PLACE, ONE CLINIC remaining where you can receive abortion care. No private doctors, no hospitals provide abortion care. Click on The Last Abortion Clinic and you can watch the documentary via video streaming. Pay special attention to these very real women of the delta. Mississippi has only one "abortion clinic", only one "administrative" Planned Parenthood offering NO PATIENT SERVICES and a very very hostile state legislature. Look at these women who are trapped in the delta. See what Crises Pregnancy Centers offer these women and families. Since Frontline released The Last Abortion Clinic in October of 2005 things have only gotten more dire for pregnant women in the deep south. Clinics are closing because fighting the state with NO HELP FROM ANYONE becomes ridiculous. Abortion CARE has to come from somewhere. Resources for abortion care for poor women has to come from somewhere. So folks, we are making abortion rare in the United States, under the guidance of our policy makers. Are we happy? Is this what we intended? Poor women and their families suffering? I DON'T THINK SO.
Why is it so hard to focus on the pregnant woman? We sure seem to have no trouble focusing on the pregnancy...fetus, gestational sac, pre-born BABY. But the "post-born" woman and her post-born children go UNSEEN. (This reminds me of the Beatles song "Lady Madonna".) How did that happen? What can we do about it?
We have systematically looked away from the pregnant woman and her post-born children. At best, we give a disdainful tisk, saying things like "Abortion is horrible, now let's talk about prevention".
What to do? We need to draft a Reproductive Bill of Rights that addresses the issues of pregnant women in the USA. It should cover everyone without exclusion. And it needs to include ALL OPTIONS FOR WOMEN.
Because finally it gets down to "Do we as Americans have a social contract with pregnant women?" Right now this focus on the pre-born to the exclusion of the post-born is hurting women and families. I view our Mississippi sisters as our canaries in the coal mines, dying daily because we have failed to protect them. These voiceless and faceless women have been pawns at best whose lives are traded daily in the hallowed halls of Congress and in elections out of expedience for the common good. Which is about as far from REALITY as it gets.
A pregnant woman deserves a village of care, including quality abortion care. Quality abortion care for pregnant women has to come from somewhere. Resources have to be put toward ABORTION CARE. We can't all look away in disdain. Universal abortion care makes women stronger and this makes families stronger. And SOMEONE has to provide this care or the rest is just empty talk.
This is the right thing to do and it will win elections! No one wants a family member to be forced to bear a child for the state. No one. Everyone wants to strengthen families and insure justice and protection to pregnant women. And when we GENUINELY help women and families Americans will respond and support this effort. We are not dummies!
This headline about homicide being the number one cause of death of pregnant women speaks volumes. It is a very sad statistic. But there is something we can do. We can understand that we cannot make judgments about a pregnant woman and her situation. We MUST GUARANTEE that all women have full access to universal reproductive health care, across the board. Because "forced" pregnancy by the state is IMMORAL and makes women DEPENDENT and that dependency sometimes turns murderous.