Bill O'Reilly has a problem with abortion. He has even more of a problem with women who support a woman's right to an abortion such as Sandra Fluke and Caroline Kennedy who "stunned" Bill O'Reilly when, during her speech at the Democratic National Convention, she invoked her religion whilst defending reproductive rights. O'Reilly doesn't think that women should be complaining about the unprecedented laws and policies that make abortion more cumbersome because, according to the uterus free O'Reilly, the right to an abortion remains intact - so abortion restrictions - meh! During his recent rant about Caroline Kennedy's speech, he said this: "And the restrictions aren't you can't have one. It's wait a couple of days and think it over." Really? Just a waiting period? Bill is either sadly misinformed or he is a liar because the restrictions go much farther.
According to the Guttmacher Institute there are many restrictions on abortion, directly affecting women, which go beyond "just waiting a couple of days."17 states have state mandated counseling that includes the purported link (hasn't been proved) between abortion and breast cancer, fetal pain (also an inexact science) and long term mental health consequences such as abortion leads to suicide - an assertion that has not been proven by science. As far as waiting periods, 26 states have waiting periods, usually 24 hours, in between which the woman receives mandatory shaming counseling. In nine of the states, the law necessitates two separate trips to the clinics. For those women who live in rural areas, this is both cumbersome and expensive. Utah has a 72 hour waiting period.
And then there's the ultrasound as the ultimate anti-abortion shaming tool. In Texas, Oklahoma, and North Carolina, the screen must be turned to the woman so she can see the fetus. The doctor is then obliged to describe the fetus in detail. And while ultrasounds are done before abortions, for medical reasons, there is no medical reason why a woman should be required to view the ultrasound or listen to a lecture about the fetus - other than to discourage the woman from having the abortion. When the Pennsylvania legislature was considering a bill that would have required the mandatory ultrasound, they provided a provision that would have allowed women to avert their eyes. But as their GOP Governor Tom Corbett said, even if there was a mandate to watch, the women could always close their eyes. In Louisiana, the fetal heartbeat must be audible to the woman, thus requiring an ultrasound. Progressive (just kidding) Oklahoma only requires that the woman be informed that she can hear a heartbeat.
As abortion restrictions appear to be just another form of slut shaming, it's no surprise that O'Reilly has no problems with them. In his patriarchal and misogynist world view, it's no big deal if those slutty sluts have to wait a couple of days to "think it over." The reality is that these women have already made a decision. As such, the mandatory waiting period, not required for other surgery (guys aren't required to "think" about their vasectomies), is just another obstacle which a woman has to face. But as O'Reilly pontificates - you still have the right to an abortion. But what good is that right when accessing that right is being eroded at a record pace. Oh well, O'Reilly thinks it's all good so quit yer bitching, ladies!
During the late Sixties, before Italy finally decided to recognise the rights of women as individuals in charge of their own bodies, I came into contact with a feminist group that was trying to help women stay out of the clutches of two categories: 1) physicians who did abortions for a price (they were nicknamed the “golden spoons”) and 2) the kitchen-table abortionists. Mortality rates were particularly high for the second category whose prices were more affordable to the poor.
First: very few of the women who came into that clinic had taken the decision to abort lightly. Most of them already had too many children to feed, clothe and school. Others were young girls who knew nothing about reproduction because that sort of information was “dirty”. Not so different from the culture I grew up in, actually.
What I also learned during those years was that those feminists were the strongest battlers against abortion I would ever meet. The women who came in were received with empathy (no pressure to desist) but they did have to listen to a talk on how to avoid pregnancy. The one that touched my heart was a mother of five on her sixth or seventh abortion because her husband refused to use a condom and other forms of contraception were still illegal. He’d give her the money for yet another abortion but otherwise washed his hands of the whole matter. She was on her own and her health was failing. Her distress at the thought of dying before her children were grown was distressing to us all.
I had the privilege to be present at a different sort of talk. In this case, an underaged girl had come in for her third abortion in a year. Contraception had been legalised but “it was a sin”, she said. The trouncing she deserved and got focused on her reckless stupidity. She was told in no uncertain terms that this would be the last time because abortion was not an acceptable method of birth control.
The abortion rate plummeted after contraception was legalised and information on reproductive health became readily available.