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Jewish World Review Jan. 22, 2003 / 19 Shevat, 5763

Julia Gorin

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Consumer Reports

Thirty years of Roe v. Wade: A near abortion speaks out | The week after September 11th, 2001, Planned Parenthood of New York City decided to offer free reproductive health services for those "in need due to tragic events," as the press release read.

The response was overwhelming. PPNYC health centers were booked to capacity and had a 100% show rate for appointments. Apparently, a lot of people either needed to have sex in a hurry and came in for contraception, or wanted to get rid of the evidence that they had sex in a hurry and came in for an abortion. That week, the folks at Planned Parenthood were so abortion-happy that when I walked by they pulled me inside as well. I said, "But I'm not pregnant." They said, "A sale's a sale!" I met a guy in the holding pen there--they gave him an abortion too.

The bad news for Planned Parenthood is that on this, the 30th anniversary of the landmark Roe v. Wade decision, abortion rates are at an all-time low since 1974. Moreover, they're down by 300,000 a year since 1990--suggesting that more women are keeping their babies since there's some cache to bearing a former president's child.

In a panic over this trend, as well as over the life-affirming policies of the current president, American women are in dread fear that they will soon lose their right to a legal abortion. My own friends have been threatening to move to Canada, where there is nationalized medicine. So I warn them: "You can get an abortion over there…but the waiting list is nine months."

Does anyone ever notice that the most panicked sort of individual--the one who is the most spirited, political button-donning abortion-rights proponent at the polls--is usually a heavyset middle-aged spinster or lesbian? Why is this always the most interested party? Is she in any danger of someone impregnating her? And aren't these the same people crusading for the right of lesbian couples to adopt kids or inseminate each other? Has it never occurred to them that if we aborted fewer children, they could just adopt the unaborted ones?

Meanwhile, at the same time that today's society tries to facilitate abortion for young people, it's trying to fertilize the old people. Between all the fertility drugs and the Viagra, there are more sixty year-olds having babies than 30 year-olds. Maybe if the young ones stopped aborting, the old ones could stop fertilizing.

My aunt, who wears the pro-choice banner across her heart and soul, says the government has no business regulating her body. "What if babies grew on a shelf?" I asked. "Should we be able to kill them then?" She said no.

Does this mean that if we laid eggs there would be no abortion debate? Really, what if incarnation was an out-of-body experience? You wouldn't be allowed to crush your eggs, would you? Just as when a baby is out of your body, everyone knows that, no matter how much of an inconvenience or annoyance it is, you can't throw it away. If only pregnancy were viewed in the same way, there wouldn't be so many souls discarded, left to recount their near-birth experiences.

Just because a baby grows inside a woman, and because some scientist decided to call it something other than a baby, there's all the debate over what it is. A child? A fetus? Life? Potential life? Similarly, there's a question over the status of men when a woman decides she wants an abortion. Often, the would-be father has no legal say: It's not his child; it's her body. The man's legal standing becomes that of a sperm. But if her body gives birth, it's his child because it was his sperm, and he'd better pay up.

A line of dolls was introduced into toy stores last year, called the "Ghetto Kids." The seamy underside of the Cabbage Patch Kids, they wore clothes with holes and each came with a small garbage can and sticker reading: ''Ghetto Kids live on the street. Provide them with the home they need.'' Their attached bios included: "Hi. I'm New York Sammy. My father was a drug dealer peddling Ecstasy to kids," and "I'm East L.A. Lupe. My mommy abandoned me after daddy died in a gang shooting." There was also Confederate Tammy, homeless after being sold by her mother, who had become pregnant after a fling with a truck driver. And San Juan Carmen, abandoned in a crack house by her heroin-addicted prostitute mother.

Toy executives said it's a good idea because it gets kids thinking about issues of substance abuse, homelessness and single parenthood. Well, I thought, if these dolls made it to market, shouldn't they be selling an Abortion doll too? Talk about child abuse! That would be a kid with issues, no? Her introduction would read: "Hi. I'm Abby doll. My mama couldn't keep her legs shut, then punished ME! And now some people say I'm not even a person. I need some love! Please take me home so I can develop some self-esteem…if nothing else." Where is that doll? Did it not make it to market because it only had potential for dollhood?

Since there is so much debate over what "it" is, we could try process of elimination and go through the entire animal kingdom, using our powers of deduction to simply guess what it is. We could even start with the plant kingdom if we wanted to be rigorous. But there have been too many cases where "it" did in fact turn into real live human offspring. And since we're talking about legality, we should go by precedent.

As a former fetus and recovering near abortion, I believe that we are worth the trouble of rehabilitating into humanity. Therefore, on this 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I stand against the death penalty that it established, as we are capable of becoming human beings.

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JWR contributor Julia Gorin is a journalist and stand-up comic residing in Manhattan. Send your comments by clicking here.

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© 2002, Julia Gorin