It Should Not Be A Felony For A Mother To Get Her Teenage Daughter An Abortion

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mom-jailed-for-giving-abortion-pillI keep hoping that things are going to get better with the whole reproductive rights and not forcing women to stay pregnant when they don’t want to be pregnant thing, and I keep being let down. Tighter and tighter restrictions continue to be passed, and then when someone crowd funds an abortion or secures online abortion pills, everyone acts all surprised and scandalized.

A mother in Pennsylvania was charged with a felony, sentenced to up to 18 months in prison and must pay a $1,000 fine for giving her 16-year-old daughter some abortion pills that she purchased online, and not only am I not surprised, I’m actually more taken aback by the fact that it took this long.

According to Think Progress, Jennifer Ann Whalen, a nursing home aide and single mother, purchased a cocktail of abortion pills from on online pharmacy and administered them to her daughter in order to help her end her pregnancy:

Whalen’s teenaged daughter had sought an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy, Whalen says she couldn’t find any abortion clinics nearby that could have provided safe access. Instead, Whalen purchased a drug cocktail consisting of Misoprostol and Mifepristone, two drugs commonly used in the United States to induce abortions, from an online drugstore overseas for $45, she said. Using those drugs requires the care of a doctor and a prescription. Whalen had neither.

Her daughter wound up in the hospital with severe abdominal pain. At the time of her arrest, Whalen told police she didn’t know she needed a prescription for the drugs.

I’m not condoning what Whalen did, but I’m not that quick to condemn her either. She lives in Washingtonville, Pennsylvania, which means that, thanks to the more stringent abortion laws on the books in the state, the closest abortion clinic was 75 miles away in Harrisburg.

She isn’t alone, either. Over 87% of counties in Pennsylvania are without any abortion providers, which means that the women and in this case, girls, who want and need the procedure have to turn to avenues like this one to secure their abortions.

If my daughter, at 16, became pregnant and wanted to not be pregnant anymore, I would move heaven and Earth to ensure that she didn’t have to be. But then, I’m not a single mom. I have the money to get her where she needs to go, whether that’s in-state or out of state or wherever. I know I’m fortunate in this regard, and I know that others aren’t.

The thing is, abortion shouldn’t be a luxury, or a procedure only privileged women can access. It is not an illegal procedure, but it is quickly becoming an unsafe one for poor women all over the country.

I would love it if anti-choice proponents would stop concern-trolling American women by pretending that these restrictions are good for women’s health. That’s bullshit. If you cared at all about women’s health, you would understand that by removing options for safe care, you put them in the position of hitting up unsafe internet pharmacies and butchers like Kermit Gosnell, who, in case we all forgot, was only able to do what he did for so long because Pennsylvania women didn’t exactly have a cornucopia of reproductive health care choices.

I guess what I’m saying is have some ‘nads, please. Admit that you want to punish women for having sexy sex and stop pretending that you give any amount of craps about women’s well-being. Understand that by shutting down clinics you drive women into internet back alleys or into shady dealings that can result in their injury or death.

If it helps, imagine women as fetuses. Then you can at least pretend to care about them.

(Image: Johan Larson/Shutterstock)