Stand up and fight

Stand up and fight

Republicans now want to make a woman’s right to choose a capital offense

By Ellen Snortland 03/03/2011

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Startled awake at 3 a.m. by the smell of fresh blood, I groped around the warmth of the bed, now sopping wet, I shared with my first husband. I was not in pain at all. Imagine my horror when I switched on the light and discovered that it was I who was bleeding profusely. We went to the emergency room and discovered that I miscarried a fetus which was wrapped around an obviously failed IUD. Ordinarily, I would not share this very private information, but these are not ordinary times. You and people you know are now at a crossroads regarding personal privacy and choice. I hope you get really angry and take action as a result of reading this column. Please stand with me and Planned Parenthood.
If it were up to the rabid, maniacal, anti-choice numbskull of the Georgia Legislature, Bobby Franklin, I’d be investigated for attempted murder of a fetus if my miscarriage had happened today. If, in Rep. Franklin’s world, they determined that I was in any way responsible, I could be arrested for homicide. Outrageous! So is Franklin just a lone nut job, a mental anomaly? No!
My home state, South Dakota, just shelved a bill (phew!) that would have granted an accused murderer of an abortion provider a “justifiable homicide” defense. This would be tantamount to “hunting season” for abortion providers, coinciding possibly with the fame that South Dakota currently has for being the pheasant hunting mecca of the world. Thank goodness the proposed bill by Rep. Phil Jensen was … shot down as unjustifiable lunacy. But it still lurks in the wings, because apparently South Dakota wants to be the anti-choice capital of the developed world.
As if that wasn’t bad enough, in case you haven’t heard Planned Parenthood’s funding has been gutted by the Pence Amendment, which passed the House and will now go to the Senate. Unbelievable! If you were to take a poll of people you know, you might be surprised to find out that as many as one in three of your loved ones have at one time or another used the services of Planned Parenthood. If it weren’t for Planned Parenthood, I would never have had the life that is mine; child-free and devoted to my social justice writing and activism. Early on, most likely for the first time in world history, I was able to decide my own fate as a woman. I chose to be an untraditional mother, one of causes and projects that would benefit many children. Before the 1960s advent of oral contraception, my destiny would have been entirely different.
How apt it is that I should write about this in March, Women’s History Month ( Historically, family planning has done more for more families — not just women — than almost any institution I can think of. The size of your family, the scope and use of your resources, time and money, has been impacted by your decision with you and your God, or you and your spouse, as to just how many kids you can handle — or not.
Reminder: if you’re not speaking to teen boys about their role in family planning and contraception, would you be willing to include that as part of their life lessons? Unplanned pregnancy and disease impacts THEM too. We often still leave it up to girls to be responsible for contraception of some sort, or for protecting themselves from sexually transmitted diseases. The movement for gender equality really requires not only equality for females but equality for males in stepping up and taking EQUAL responsibility for safe and conscious sex.
This column is basically a clarion call to pick up your phones, mail your checks, send your PayPal dollars to Planned Parenthood and pro-choice organizations right now! Do it in honor of March, Women’s History Month. Do it for your kids. Do it to honor your parents. Just do it. Or earmark your donation as a response to Reps. Bobby Franklin, Phil Jensen or Mike Pence.
My mother paid for her sister’s abortion procedure in the early 1930s. It was an illegal operation, and we almost lost my aunt. That’s why my parents always supported Planned Parenthood, because their own beloved sister and sister-in-law almost died from a botched one.
I’ve been warning people for years to never take their reproductive rights for granted; that the religious extremists in this country are standing by to not only criminalize abortion but to attack contraception too. Those days are here, my friends. Fight back! I wish I had a dollar for all the times I was told in the ’80s and ’90s that I was being too alarmist about the anti-choice people! So get up, go to the Internet and donate to Planned Parenthood of Pasadena (, or the national organization (

PS: There is still time to register for the Fifty-Fifty Leadership and the UNA co-sponsored Annual Women of the World luncheon on March 12. For more information and to register, visit

Ellen Snortland teaches writing in Altadena. Contact her at


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