In the book Abortion is a Woman's Right! The authors Pat Grogan and Evelyn Reed write about why the subject of abortion is of such importance both in discussions of the rights of women but in the concept of Feminism and the place of women throughout society. Before the Roe v. Wade case made abortion lawful in this country, abortions were illegal in the United States. Anyone who desired or required the abortion procedure for any reason, physical or emotional, would have to go to back alley abortionists who would be working with unsafe tools and in squalid and unsterile conditions which would be a breeding ground for bacteria and germs. Many women died during these procedures, or from the later infections directly related to the abortions. Other women were left permanently sterile or even more cripplingly debilitated by their experiences. Grogan and Reed write that: "In 1969, the year before New York State adopted liberalized abortion laws -- a step that laid the basis for the later Supreme Court victory -- approximately 210,000 women entered city hospitals due to abortion complications."[footnoteRef:1] Since legalization, there have still been a few cases of post-abortion complications, but the number is nowhere near the 200,000+ of olden times. Grogan and Reed utilize these traumatic statistics to prove the point that the legalization of abortion is not only the lesser of two evils (for those who perceive abortion as an evil action), ensuring that women who do want abortions will not have to do so in unsafe conditions, but that also the right to decide if children are wanted is part of a woman's civil liberties. The major working thesis of Abortion is a Woman's Right! is that not only is abortion an important right of all women, but it is indicative of all ways in which men have tried to impose their will on women, even to the point where the male has the option to control the body of that woman. [1: Pat Grogan and Evelyn Reed, Abortion is a Woman's Right (Pathfinder, 1985).]
The issue of abortion has a polarizing effect even in the current day. Those who support the rights of women to choose point to the articles in this collection as evidence of the importance both as a procedure itself and its implications in the feminist movement. People who are pro-life look at texts like this which make ardent claims in favor of choice with far more skepticism, even to the point where they would dismiss the statistical evidence provided by Grogan and Reed. With the subject of abortion, it seems that no consensus will ever be reached. Those who argue in favor of choice will never see from the perspective of the pro-lifers and vice versa. The major difference is that those who are pro-choice have never been responsible for the deaths of the opposition. Those who are opposed to abortion not only object to Grogan and Reed's work, but have been known to perpetrate acts of extreme violence, even murder against abortion centers and doctors. Grogan and Reed equate feminism and being pro-choice, but many feminists argue this point, looking to the fact that the original suffragettes like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony opposed abortion. The reason for this was that they deemed it hypocritical to be able to finally voice opinions only to snuff out other voices because they were inconvenient.
The book is a historical account of the subject of abortion in the United States of America both preceding and following the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. "For the first time the right of women to decide whether or not to bear children -- not the state, church, husband, father, or priest -- was recognized."[footnoteRef:2] Part of the abortion debate was the religious implications of ending a pregnancy. The decision of whether or not to begin a family was usually placed upon the male of society, the United States being a patriarchal country. Such laws were leftover remnants of the times in the pre-feminist years when women had little or few rights. Consequently, the wife in a marriage would be legally obligated to follow her husband's order in most things. A daughter would have to similarly obey her father. The American woman, stemming from the beginning of the nation when even a woman's property became that of her husband after marriage, had no say in what happened to her own body. Even in cases where a fetus was expected to have major birth defects or the continuation of the pregnancy was dangerous to the life of the mother, she still had no say in whether or not she wished to continue with the pregnancy. [2: Pat Grogan and Evelyn Reed, Abortion is a Woman's Right ]
Besides the rights of women, other arguments in favor of legalized abortion have been made historically. Before the feminist movement took off, some of the pro-choice activists argued in favor of legalization based on the concept of population control.[footnoteRef:3] By being allowed to have abortions women who would otherwise produce larger numbers of children, usually these would be low-income or minority areas of the country, would not then give birth to as many offspring. This would then help the country economically because these unnecessary and uncared for children would not be a drain on welfare and other social services. The decrease in population of minority citizens would also appeal to the indoctrinated racism of the much of the country by ensuring a Caucasian majority population. This was both racist and unethical, not to mention completely unrelated to the true point of abortion rights, which is the right of every woman to make a choice regarding her body, her future, and whether or not she chose to be a mother despite biology. Just because a sperm meets and egg which then produces a fetus does not mean that the woman is emotionally or financially prepared to have the responsibility of motherhood. [3: Pat Grogan and Evelyn Reed, Abortion is a Woman's Right ]
In 1976, the American government passed the Hyde Amendment. This law, which did not make abortion illegal again, did put restrictions on who could afford the procedure. For example, Medicaid funding could no longer be applied towards abortions, except in cases of pregnancies resulting from acts of incest or rape. By May of 1981, the law was further amended so that Medicaid could not be used for incest or rape pregnancies either.[footnoteRef:4] This is treated as something incomprehensibly distasteful. Particularly in cases of rape or incest, a woman should not be forced to carry out a pregnancy and then give birth to a child that was created through an act of violation in the first place. Additionally, under the original provisions of Roe v. Wade, pregnancies which would result in sever harm to the mother could be terminated in a hospital and covered by Medicaid. This has been less restricted than the issues of rape or incest, but the potential for death of the mother must be extremely likely in order to be covered, such as in the cases of an ectopic pregnancy where the child will most likely not survive either. The subliminal implication of these restrictions is that the moral, physical, and psychological health of the mother is secondary to the fetus in her body. [4: Pat Grogan and Evelyn Reed, Abortion is a Woman's Right]
In the book, Grogan and Reed make a passionate plea about the rights of women and how abortion is one of these inalienable rights. Their words are strongest when they utilize statistical information to back up certain assertions. When they illustrated the dangers of illegal abortions with numbers which prove how dangerous life was before Roe v. Wade, the reader wholeheartedly agrees with their point-of-view. However, some of the assertions about racist policies in the restriction of abortion laws seem less convincing. Instead, these portions of the book seem to be more desperate attempts by the writers to ensure that the reader sides with the pro-choicers. Pro-life people are then lumped together with those who have racist opinions and would only want abortion to restrict populations of members of the minority. Another problem with the text is when the authors' personal views and emotions take over the unbiased tone of the researcher. An example of this emotionality is: "Forcing a woman to bear a child against her will is a brutal denial of a woman's humanity and dignity."[footnoteRef:5] By putting their opinion in such an emotional context, it takes away some of the authenticity of their perspective. Not only are they making a pro-choice stance, but stating that those who do not agree with them are less than human in their desire to see women denigrated undignified by having to give birth to unwanted children. [5: Pat Grogan and Evelyn Reed, Abortion is a Woman's Right]
Pat Grogan and Evelyn Reed's book Abortion is a Woman's Right! makes a strong point about the importance of abortion…