We hear that in Pennsylvania, in America, there is an abortion clinic so dangerous that the investigative team had to don Hazmat suits to tour it for evidence. “Really?” we think. We live in “the First World.” This is absurd. We ask, “Are the charges trumped up? They must be. That doesn’t happen here.”
And then we read on and learn that many of the charges are probably true. We learn that this doctor had been suspected of such practices for a long time. He was not a member of a professional organization for abortion providers and instead operated on the fringes where desperation and medicine meet. The majority of the patients who had come to this clinic to receive his substandard care were uninsured and many were undocumented immigrants…women for whom the language of “choice” might as well be a cruel joke.
Now we realize that we know how it happened. We see ourselves. This is our story.
Because this is not really a story about abortion. This is a story about what happens when as a nation we fail to honor the tenets of the Hippocratic oath in favor of a profit-driven system. This story should not just shame the negligent provider but should cause us all to reflect on our culpability in a national crisis.
Collectively we tolerate a shockingly large number of uninsured Americans. We allow a health care system in which all sorts of abuses flourish in the shadow of poverty. Beyond the 44 million uninsured, there are countless more who are underinsured. Those who are insured must often fight tooth and nail with their insurance companies in order to get their care covered. “Preexisting conditions,” the very conditions that most need monitoring, may not be covered at all. Insurance companies may discriminate against women. They may arbitrarily cover certain types of contraception and not others, charge extremely high prices for “pregnancy riders,” and refuse to cover abortion. And then when Congress needs a bargaining chip to pass health care legislation, they will attempt to outlaw nearly all insurance coverage for abortion.
Economic justice is an essential element of reproductive freedom. At Faith Aloud we work for “Reproductive Justice” because we recognize that there are so many injustices to right before we can make truly free choices. May the events in Pennsylvania remind us of our obligations and may we find ourselves energized for equalities of all kinds.