While the Supreme Court is considering restricting abortion, a look back at pro-choice priests and suicide girls

Since the Supreme Court seems to be pulling America back to the past, at least when it comes to abortion, we should recreate ourselves with where we are headed. Get, so to speak, put off the land.

And no, I do not want to scare you horror stories of miscarriages in the back alley. Nor did the “Million Dollar Abortion Ring,” which sent waves of tragedy through the corrupt Chicago medical and legal communities. Been there done that.

On the contrary, I am here to reassure. To remind you that just as Roe v. Wade did not introduce legal abortion, its overthrow, if it were to happen, would not slam the door completely.

The Roe decision of 1973 was not the start of legal abortion in the United States. In 1971, there were indeed 500,000 illegal abortions, but also 500,000 legal abortions in the 31 states where the procedure was allowed to preserve the mother’s “life and health.” Four states – New York, Washington, Hawaii and Alaska – offered abortions just because a pregnant woman wanted it, as if she had control over her own body.

“Health” is a fairly general term, vague enough that many doctors can perform abortions. Even in Illinois, where our dusty law of 1872 allowed abortion “only if it was necessary to preserve the woman’s life.”

Still enough leeway to give rise to “therapeutic abortion.”

What a circus it was. Spend a few minutes fiddling with newspapers from 1972, and you’re encountering situations like the 15-year-old being referred to by a headline writer as “Suicide Squad.” Committed to the Audy home by her mother, who could not afford the psychiatric treatment she needed, the teenager ran away, became pregnant and vowed she would take her own life if forced to have the baby.

She was again a ward in Illinois who refused to let her go to one of the several Chicago hospitals that volunteered to perform an abortion. It all ended in court and in the news.

“I have had abortions in similar cases with Michael Reese,” said Dr. Alex Tulsky, a gynecologist there. “This is done every day, if not at Michael Reese, then at other major Chicago hospitals.”

He noted that whether a medical condition resulted in the girl’s death, or a psychiatric one, “she just died in both ways.”

About 100 abortion rights activists met at Federal Plaza on Wednesday, December 1, 2021.

About 100 abortion rights activists met Wednesday in Federal Plaza. Earlier in the day, the U.S. Supreme Court had heard oral arguments in a case involving a restrictive abortion law in Mississippi.
Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times

Meanwhile, Assistant Attorney General Robert Novelle argued that the girl was suicidal Before getting pregnant, so “where is the causal link between the two?” The Illinois Supreme Court agreed and ruled that her psychiatric condition was irrelevant to whether a 15-year-old was forced by the state to give birth to a child or not.

The stories contain many comments from lawyers and judges, but not a word from the teenager or her mother, a reminder that even if making abortion illegal does not end the practice completely, it puts control back in the hands of men, where certain religious kinds insist on , that it belongs to.

After Roe made abortion allegedly legal in the United States, men still found a way to block it. Even in Illinois. Recall that the chairman of the Cook County Board, George Dunne, personally banned abortions at Cook County Hospital in 1980. Although that did not mean that the abortions stopped completely in County. They were still carried out on an “ad hoc basis” at Dunne’s discretion. His call.

“Sometimes he said yes, and sometimes he said no,” a source told the Sun-Times in 1992, when Dunne admitted he never really had the authority to stop the proceedings, and they resumed.

Sounds good? This is the world we are slipping back into.

To end with a positive remark, Illinois finally let Suicide Girl have an abortion. The $ 650 for her trip to New York was paid for by … that’s why I do not write fiction … Chicago Area Consultation Service on Problem Pregnancy, led by Pastor Harold Quigley, who called the girl “a farmer.” in the ideology of the Catholic Church. “The ureters of illegal abortion were so obvious that even pastors sometimes opposed them. Quigley’s group had facilitated 8,000 abortions over the previous 30 months. There has never been or will be a lack of demand for abortion , which will always be available to women with money in their purse.

“The effect of the law is to discriminate between the poor and the black,” Quigley wrote in a letter to John Cardinal Cody.

People complain that society is changing, but some things really remain the same.

A supporter holds up a sign during a demonstration on abortion rights outside the Federal Plaza in Chicago, Wednesday, December 1, 2021. The U.S. Supreme Court heard a Mississippi case on Wednesday that directly challenges the constitutional right to an abortion established nearly 50 years ago .

A supporter holds up a sign during a demonstration on abortion rights outside the Federal Plaza in Chicago on Wednesday.
Nam Y. Huh / Associated Press

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