Tuesday, November 08, 2005

the last abortion clinic

I was an unplanned pregnancy, pre Roe v. Wade, and I'm happy to be alive. So, on a very superficial level, some of the rhetoric associated with the so-called pro-life movement appeals to me. But I can't get around the hipocracy.

Tonight Allie and I watched Frontline's "The Last Abortion Clinic," about how a seldom discussed Supreme Court decision of 1989 has made it increasingly difficult -- in some cases, almost impossible -- for a growing population of women to choose to have an abortion. The documentary focused on Mississippi, where there's basically just one abortion clinic still in operation. And even that clinic could close its doors early next year.

The show offered lots of interviews with so-called pro-lifers, and it showed them praying outside of the clinic in Jackson. Most of them were men, and I can't recall seeing a black face among them. And I kept thinking, You don't really care about these babies you think you're saving.

After just two minutes of Googling, I found a handful of Mississippi counties where 40 percent of the children live in poverty (that's federally defined poverty, which is artificially low, not actual poverty), and the infant mortality rate is as high as 20 per thousand. Statewide, 24 percent of Mississippi's children live in poverty, the highest rate in the country. Twelve percent live in "extreme poverty."

Mississippi ranks 50th among states (including DC) in per-pupil expenditures on education.

And this:
Mississippi families who pay for care spend an average of 9 percent of earnings on child care. Families with incomes below 200 percent of poverty spend an average of 14 percent of parental earnings, more than the 7 percent of earnings spent by families with incomes at or above 200 percent of poverty.

In Mississippi, at least 41 percent of families with incomes below 200 percent of poverty get some sort of child care help; at least 15 percent have government/organization help and at least 20 percent have all their child care provided free by relatives. The percentage of these families with government/organization help is lower in Mississippi than in the United States as a whole. (Urban Institute)

And, of course, there are lots of kids in Mississippi who are waiting for someone to give them a stable home, as there are in every state.

I'm not necessarily trying to bash Mississippi.

But come on! What are you doing for the kids that are already alive?

In the Frontline show, the Mississippi so-called pro-lifers crowed about these "Pregnancy Crisis Centers" they've established across the state to help poor women deal with their lack of choice. I yelled, "Right on!" at the screen when an anonymous abortion clinic owner addressed these outposts of dubious benevolence.
Right now it seems that the crisis pregnancy centers want to help women have babies, but really offer no real alternatives for women to raise these babies and have no resources truly available to them for the long term.

And again, a woman with children already, some baby clothes and formula and even a stroller isn't going to help for that long. That's just not what's required to raise a child. The whole thing that is really problematic for me is the disconnect between the pre-born and the post-born. I just don't understand that. It seems that so many of these groups, so many of the hardliners, when they say, "I'm pro-life," they mean "I support the pregnancy in utero," in the uterus. But I see so little sustenance and support for women and children, particularly poor women and children. Those are the ones that are castigated and blamed.

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