New York Times: Won't Someone Think Of The Poor Forced Birthers In Blue States?

New York Times: Won't Someone Think Of The Poor Forced Birthers In Blue States?

In the weeks since Roe was overturned, most of us have been preoccupied with the impact this will have on people living in states where they no longer have reproductive rights, on those who could end up in prison for obtaining or providing abortions, on those who may die from ectopic pregnancies, on 10-year-olds who are going to be forced to have their rapists' babies, etc.

It's so horrible that scant few of us have even stopped for a moment to consider the impact it would have on another demographic: people in blue states who don't like abortions and whose lives will not be changed in any way whatsoever.

But New York Times reporter John Leland was on it.

This morning, the paper of record published a sympathetic profile of "activists from sanctuary states who have spent more than 50 years fighting abortion" and thus don't get to fully enjoy the "victory," because their states still are not forcing anyone to gestate against their will. Apparently it is very important for them to get to witness that sort of misery firsthand.

For local veterans of the anti-abortion movement, the Supreme Court’s June 24 decision reversing Roe v. Wade came with a sobering reminder: in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, nothing had changed.

Abortion remains as legal as ever and will probably become more common here since the decision, not less. Money has poured into groups that provide abortions, including from state government coffers.

But for those in the metropolitan area who have been marching against abortion rights since the 1970s, such stalled progress is nothing new. For five decades, they have weathered defeat after defeat. While activists in other states successfully pushed through restrictions on abortion, in New York they have made no inroads in what was once called “the most liberal abortion law in the world.” New York’s state Medicaid program still pays for abortions, as do New Jersey’s and Connecticut’s.

Notably, not one of the people he interviewed can get pregnant.

85-year-old anti-abortion activist Jane Gilroy told Leland how very sad she was when she and her church group first petitioned New York state not to pass a bill in 1969 that would legalize abortion and they did it anyway — even though they were "nicer" than the feminists.

“We thought they were on our side,” Ms. Gilroy said. “One legislator said we were so nice, not like these feminists who yell and holler. He made it sound as if he liked us, and he was going to go with us.” Victory, she thought, was at hand.

But in April 1970, after a tumultuous debate and several reversals of votes, the New York Legislature narrowly passed a bill allowing unrestricted abortion until 24 weeks — at the time, the most liberal law in the nation. And from Ms. Gilroy’s suburban discussion group rose the New York State Right to Life Party, a precursor to the national party.

Aw, the poor dear. And now she's worried that last month's ruling won't really change anything.

Last month’s Supreme Court decision reversing Roe v. Wade meant only more work for opponents of abortion, especially in states like New York.

“What it’s doing is enlivening the conversation,” Ms. Gilroy said of the court ruling. But after 50 years in the movement, she has adjusted her expectations. “I don’t know that it will be changed in my lifetime,” she said. “But this is a little bit of a start.”

Oh, is it? Is it a little bit of a start?

The thing Ms. Gilroy has not considered is that, thanks to the internet and social media, she will get to regularly experience the joy of hearing about the way her longed-for policy has ruined lives in other states from the comfort of her own home. It's not like it used to be in the "good old days" she remembers, it's not going to happen in secret. She's going to get to hear of horrific ways these laws are impacting people across the country. And so is everyone else. So perhaps that will bring her some comfort.

Phyllis Graham, age 91, who will also not be affected in any personal way by the ruling, was also very sad when Roe happened. The ruling spurred her to start going to Washington and praying, which led to her joining up with an "underground" Catholic Church where they still did the Latin Mass, as well as with Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, in order to campaign against the Equal Rights Amendment. What a doll.

She joined weekly vigils outside area abortion clinics and hospitals. It was “dreary” work, she said, because abortions were taking place inside. “That’s the heavy-heartedness that you went in there with. It wasn’t meanness towards the women. We were for the most part quiet.”

For the last decade or so, because of health problems, she has been unable to walk in the annual March for Life in Washington. But she has kept praying for change, even as laws remain untouched in New York.

And she has found comfort in another area. “I’m a Trumpie,” she said, robustly. “I love that man.”

So — just to be clear, she opposed reproductive rights, campaigned against the Equal Rights Amendment with Phyllis Schlafly, hooked up with an "underground" Catholic Church (is she the same Phyllis Graham who wrote for Angelus, a magazine associated with the radical and frequently anti-Semitic sedevacantist church, Society of St. Pius X?) and voted for a man who bragged about sexually assaulting women on the regular. So there was certainly some "meanness to women" going on there.

So sad that she's sad.

Then there is 78-year-old Carol Crossed, who unlike the other women interviewed considers herself a feminist and a progressive and has been sad about being left out of the movement just because she loves forcing people to give birth against their will.

And there's a priest. And there's another woman who once got an abortion, was sad about it and now wants to prevent others from getting them.

Theresa Bonopartis had a legal abortion in New York before Roe v. Wade, and in the decades that followed, she said, she was tormented by guilt. She felt her father had pressured her into it, threatening to throw her out of the house if she went through with the pregnancy.

“I had low self-esteem,” she said. “I hated myself for caving in to the coercion.” She ended up in a bad marriage, dealing with depression and anxiety, and when she sought help from therapists, she said, they told her that her emotional problems did not arise from her abortion.

Finally, she said, she got help from a priest and a therapist who addressed her abortion.

Wow, it's almost as if not having a say in your reproductive future can be damaging to your mental health. Who would have thought?

She has mixed feelings about the Supreme Court decision, she said, because “it was like saying, ‘Oops, we made a mistake’” in legalizing abortion for five decades. And even before the decision, she noted, Gov. Kathy Hochul committed $35 million to abortion providers in New York to help them deal with increased demand and bolster security. “People can’t afford food and gas, and she puts aside $35 million,” Ms. Bonopartis said.

“I understand why women are angry, but they’re angry about the wrong thing,” she said. “They should be angry about what abortion has done, not about overturning Roe v. Wade.”

This is the last sentence of the article. That's where they leave it. With a woman who was forced to make a choice she didn't want to make now hoping to deny others the ability to make choices for themselves and then telling them what they should be allowed to get angry about.

It is really too bad that these people have to be sad about not getting to force people in their state to give birth against their will. Surely this is a very difficult time for them. Perhaps they can find some solace in all of the horror stories they are about to read about people from other states who will be harmed by the laws they so desperately want in their own.

Or, perhaps, they can fuck off into the sea.

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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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