Finding a Way

Thankfully, the appeal of social conservativism did not outweigh the benefits of financial liberalism in October’s presidential and senatorial races. For once, the Republican party was not successful in convincing poor white Americans to vote for them because they were on the side of God and guns, all the while quietly suppressing spending on social programs and aid that would benefit lower-middle-class and middle-class Americans and their children. Though Prop. 8 passed in California (and maybe even because it did; the injustice may ignite fervent protest), there may now be opportunity to transform the views of social conservatives by proving them incorrect (as in the case of racial equality).

And transform them we should, because if it was successful at anything, Jennifer 8. Lee’s and Cara Buckley’s New York Times exposé on the high volume of illegal abortions that occur in socially conservative Dominican, it was successful in revealing the dangers of social pressures. The article reveals that it has become increasingly popular for Dominican women to use an ulcer medication called misoprostol (among a myriad of home-brewed teas and tonics) to cause an abortion. A Dominican woman named Amalia Domingez (pictured), who took the drug twelve years ago in order to cause an abortion, was interviewed for the article. Misoprostol has not been approved for the purpose of abortion and has been issued the highest warning by the FDA for pregnant women. The words “CAN CAUSE ABORTION,” are printed in capital letters on the side of pill bottles. It’s the word “can” that causes pause. Every case does not end in abortion. For one Dominican immigrant living in Massachusetts in 2007, ingestion of the drug caused her to give birth to a one-pound baby who lived for four days. The woman was sentenced to probation in 2008.

Lee and Buckley reveal this explanation for why illegal, home abortions are becoming increasingly popular in Latino communities:

"Researchers studying the phenomenon cite several factors that lead Dominican and other immigrant women to experiment with abortifacients: mistrust of the health-care system, fear of surgery, worry about deportation, concern about clinic protesters, cost and shame.

'It turns an abortion into a natural process and makes it look like a miscarriage,' said Dr. Mark Rosing, an obstetrician at St. Barnabas Hospital in the Bronx who led the 2000 study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Women’s Association. 'For people who don’t have access to abortion for social reasons, financial reasons or immigration reasons, it doesn’t seem like this horrible thing.'"

"It doesn’t seem like this horrible thing," sums up the dangers of widespread social conservativism. In insular communities where religion, family, and reputation are invaluable guidelines to live by, deception is, to many, the only way to wiggle outside those guidelines. Like the seemingly endless list of Larry Craigs and Ted Haggards who exist in communities that oppose homosexuality and rail against it themselves who have secret, intensely private means of practicing acts of which they disapprove, the pressure to obtain an abortion illegally in order to make it look like an accident is as hypocritical as it is emotionally crippling to the person involved. Not to mention dangerous.

Though Row v. Wade seems safe for now, abortion remains one of the most highly regulated medical procedures. Even in communities where the procedure carries less of a stigma, women are met with expense, difficulty and, undoubtedly, a certain level of shame; the situation is not an ideal one to be in. So it’s not hard to imagine that obtaining a legal abortion for women in socially conservative communities may seem impossible, especially if others know about the pregnancy. Regulating policy based on social views will only perpetuate and irritate practices like illegal, slipshod abortions. Desperation, whether it’s for “illicit” sex or the end of an unwanted pregnancy, will always win.

Author: Cherchez La Femme

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