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Submitted by: Sandy Iredale
When I was young (read: naïve) about 35 years ago, I had internalized a set of faith-based instructions about how the world worked and how I was to conduct myself in it.
Exposure to the well-written, well-researched articles in “Our Bodies, Ourselves” caused a paradigm shift in my thinking, in my soul, to the core of me. Empowered by the (then) radical idea that my body was my own, with all the rights and responsibilities that come with ownership, there was no way I could defer automatically to the ‘authority’ of my family doctor, priest, husband. “Our Bodies, Ourselves” provided the raw materials from which I would establish in my psyche, soul and spirit a boundary between myself and others who might lay claim to my corporeal geography.
Most important, though, was the reading I did on the topic of abortion. Alongside the article on abortion was a photograph of a woman who died due to an ‘illegal’ procedure. Suddenly, I was face to face with reality. This was no longer merely a philosophical, religious, political argument for me. This woman died, alone, in agony.
Newly accepting ‘person-hood’ for myself, how could I deny her? If I cherished my right to choose to continue a pregnancy, how could I deny her the right to end hers? By denying her access to proper medical care, was I not complicit in her death? From that day forward, I knew that while my own personal choice might not be to abort, I could not deny another woman’s right to choose it and be provided a safe medical procedure and aftercare.
The woman in that photograph haunts me still. Access to proper medical care would have saved her life.