Why, Yes, I Would Help My Daughter Get an Abortion

Worried mom and daughterIn a few years, my daughter will be the age I was when I first breathed a sigh of relief that I lived in an era where birth control was, finally, readily available, and, if needed, that I could get a safe, legal abortion.

I never envisioned then that in the 21st century, I would have to worry about whether my daughter will have fewer reproductive choices than I did. But that’s where we are headed, especially in light of the news of a Pennsylvania mom who assisted her then-16-year-old daughter with a medical abortion.

38-year-old Jennifer Whalen, who is a nurse, wasn’t able to find a place to take her teen daughter for a surgical abortion.  Since the options were few, Whalen purchased a combination of medications on the internet to help her daughter end her pregnancy — drugs that other women around the globe also use for this purpose.

According to a local news report, Whalen has been charged with “a felony count of medical consultation and judgment and misdemeanor charges of unlawful acts – not licensed as a pharmacist, endangering the welfare of a child and simple assault.”

While I hope my now-14-year-old daughter is never in a position to have to worry about whether having an abortion is something she has to consider, I know that as we are living in world where powerful political conservatives want to take away so many of our rights — including the ability to obtain the birth control we need — that there is a mother/daughter talk in the offing about why abortion rights are important and that I will do anything in my power, as her mother, to help her with whatever reproductive decisions she feels she must make in the years to come.

I know there are many steps in the discussions before talking about ending a pregnancy, but that has to be a part of the conversation we have with our daughters — and sons. But I do know that my daughter’s well-being will always be my first priority. And if that means having to risk going to jail for her because our country has become an incredibly hostile place to girls and women, then I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

Joanne Bamberger is an independent journalist who is also the author of the book Mothers of Intention: How Women and Social Media are Revolutionizing Politics in America. She is also the publisher of the The Broad Side. You can find her on Twitter at @jlcbamberger.

Image via iStockphoto

  • Joanne, I think about this all the time. I grew up in a household that supported Planned Parenthood and my dad was on the local board for awhile. He even got me a volunteer job at the San Diego HQ when I finished high school where I helped create marketing materials. Back then there were plenty of clinics and I’m sure my parents weren’t worried about the lack of abortion services just in case my birth control failed. But now I live in the south and wonder if my daughter needed an abortion, would we have to hop on a plane to California or Colorado – places where we have ties – so we would have a “back story” just in case we were questioned why we were there. Is there some sort of Mann Act when it comes to moving minors across state lines when it comes to abortion?

    • Marti Teitelbaum

      I’m no lawyer (Joanne is), but if it’s your own daughter and you’re her legal guardian, how could they get you on crossing state lines?
      Then again, we’re talking about extremists who will do just about anything.

      • Marti, if you read about the PA mom, they’ve charged her with assault and all sorts of things TWO YEARS after she ordered the pills for her daughter. It took them that long to figure out how to charge her. So yes, I really do think they could use the Mann Act’s “immoral purposes” clause (which is for sex not abortion) and turn it around to mean abortion, too.

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