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Friday, October 15, 2004

About a stain on the steps of Hamilton High....

One day, I think it was some time in the '70s, my mother and I were walking near my grandparents' apartment on Los Angeles' Westside. Suddenly, she pointed something out to me.

"See that brown stain over there?"

I saw something that looked like a very old coffee stain was light and had faded but yeah, it was still there.

"A girl bled to death on these steps when I was in High School."

She then told me the whole story. A girl had gotten pregnant. She couldn't tell her parents, and certainly could not afford a discreet trip to a doctor and the payment of a large sum of money for a clandestine abortion like Beverly Hills upper crust girls could. Her boyfriend had deserted her. Bearing a child out of wedlock in the late '50s, even in cosmopolitan Los Angeles, was enough to destroy one's life forever.

She decided to take matters into her own hands. Mom did not know with what she tried to abort the fetus with, but she had done something and had staggered out of the girl's bathroom bleeding profusely. She managed to get out the doors of the building and down a few stairs when she collapsed, hemorrhaging to death. The fire department got to her way too late to save her.

"This is why I brought you here. I want you to know how important it is you have effective birth control and safe and legal abortions." my mother finished, gravely. "This kind of thing should never happen again."

Guess what, folks. In 30 out of 50 states, this kind of thing is going to start happening again if George W. Bush gets a chance to appoint justices to the Supreme Court. Here is the whole story, but I am going to give you a rundown of what is likely to happen the day after Roe v. Wade is overturned:

Abortion is immediately recriminalized in these states: Alabama, Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Abortion is endangered in these states: Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania.

Abortion is safe, but could be vulnerable to changes in state law in these states: Alaska, California, Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.

I know that California has laws on the books that specifically protect the right to choose, as do Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, Washington and Vermont. But California's penchant to rule by ballot initiative might mean that a confusingly-worded initiative given the right push by the right people with the right amount of money could repeal otherwise strong laws.

It just so happens that a lot of the states currently in play this election year are also states where the repeal of Roe v. Wade will either trigger an immediate return to criminalized abortion or a strong danger of legislative action against the right to choose as soon as the ban is instituted. I would hope that women in these states understand that a vote for W is a vote for Supreme Court justices like the current President's favorite, Antonin Scalia. A vote for W is a vote for the possibility of girls and young women dying long before their time because they cannot obtain a safe and legal abortion and must take matters into their own hands.