In 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.