Updated: Jul 17
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The recent decision by the Supreme Court has put the “abortion issue” into state’s hands. August 2 is the primary election and included on the ballot is a question regarding giving the legislature power to make abortion in Kansas illegal.
No one LIKES abortion. But do we like accessible healthcare for women and children? Do we like having the option to use the contraceptive that works best for us in order to prevent an unplanned pregnancy? Who’s to say if one “option” is taken away, the powers that be won’t continue to take away other pregnancy prevention options?
Responsible sexual behavior is the way to reduce the number of abortions. Before engaging in sexual intercourse a couple should say to each other, “What will we do if a pregnancy occurs?” Each partner should be clear on their responsibilities and expectations for each other. Today there are quite a number of effective contraceptives. They must be used consistently and correctly. None are 100 percent effective. “Hope” and crossing fingers are not effective methods of birth control.
Several years ago while delivering Meals on Wheels, I came to the house of a man in his 90s. He had been watching something on TV about abortions. When he came to the door to get his meal he said, “When I was a kid, all the kids knew that you could go down to (he named a town in SE Kansas) and for $50 Feather Mary would do an abortion. My wife and I went down there. We’d had more kids than we could afford. We asked a gas station attendant how to find Mary and he gave us directions. We only did that once. I got fixed.”
I graduated from high school in 1962. At that time if a girl was pregnant she could not go to school. Frequently she would be sent to stay with an “aunt” during her pregnancy. However, the father of the baby could continue in school, participate in all activities and sports, and graduate with his class. Thankfully, at least now our society has recognized the importance of education for the young women.
In nursing school we students were aware that wealthy women could hop on a plane and fly somewhere, I guess out of the U.S., get an abortion using sterile techniques, come home and resume their lives. The less affluent had to resort to the Feather Mary types of places. One physician with whom I worked said “All you have to do is watch a 45 year old woman die of sepsis after an illegal abortion to believe that abortion needs to be legal, done with sterile technique, and available.” One of our past Presidents said abortion should be legal, done early, and rarely.
Over the 30 years I worked as a nurse practitioner I gave girls/women the news of a positive pregnancy test many times. In some situations this was wonderful joyous news, other times not so much. The bottom line for the unwed woman, she could get married and have the baby, have the baby and raise it as a single mother, have the baby and place it for adoption, or have an abortion.
When the girl said “I could never have an abortion,” I could celebrate with her saying, “I’m so glad you are willing to make the commitment to put this baby’s welfare first as you make decisions in your life for the next nine months and years to come.
“Let’s get you an appointment with a doctor who delivers babies and get you started on prenatal vitamins. It is very important that you take good care of yourself. Eat a well-balanced diet, allow time to get a good night’s rest, exercise, no alcohol or drugs. Your doctor will give you more information. If you smoke, this would be a good time to quit, or get in the habit of only smoking outdoors so you can bring your baby back to a smoke free home.”
Guys, what is your role? As half of the combination that will make that baby, are you willing to put in half the time? Half or more of the money? Half of the responsibility for the safety, wellness, and development of the child?
Google "Fetal Alcohol Syndrome;" see what can happen to a baby who’s momma drinks through the pregnancy. DNA testing shows paternity, which means you’re responsible for child support for that baby for the next 18 years. Whether you are in a committed relationship with the mom or it was a “one night at a party” thing, you’re still responsible.
I have had women tell me that they want the father of the baby to what is right and pay child support, but how often are men delinquent on payments? How long does it take to start garnishing wages?
I don’t want anyone to be in a situation where they are considering an abortion. Act responsibly. Use contraception. When you have had as many children as you can afford (financially, emotionally, etc.) get fixed (vasectomy or tubal ligation). Do not make a decision to have unprotected sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs, or in the heat of passion. The pleasure derived from such an act lasts but a short time. A baby is a lifelong commitment.
Pregnancy is not a benign affliction. There are risks to every situation. According to the CDC, 100 out of every 100,000 pregnant women in Kansas die due to pregnancy complications. The U.S. has the highest pregnancy mortality rate in the developed world. Babies born preterm face multiple obstacles and can suffer lifelong complications as a result of their prematurity.
On August 2 all registered voters will have the opportunity to vote on an amendment to the Kansas Constitution which will allow our Kansas Legislature to make laws regarding abortion. I would like to remind you that our Kansas Legislature has chosen not to expand Medicaid, which if it had been expanded might have given some women easier access to health care and contraception.
One cannot believe everything one hears or reads, but it has been said that some legislators want to outlaw abortion with no exceptions for pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when the mother’s life is at risk. Some are even said to want to outlaw contraceptives.
All registered voters may vote on the amendment. Those who have declared a party may vote in their party’s primary, too.
I encourage you to vote “No” on the amendment.
Loretta Teagarden, La Cygne
Loretta Teagarden has worked in Family Practice clinics in Louisburg and Paola, an OB-GYN office in Overland Park, Osawatomie State Hospital, and Topeka-Shawnee Health Department. None of these health care groups provided abortions.
The Linn County Journal accepts letters to the editor from a variety of viewpoints. The Journal reserves the right to make editorial decisions on letters submitted for publication.