Opinion: The danger of older men’s silence on abortion

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    Derenda Hancock, co-organizer of the "Pinkhouse Defenders," a group of volunteers that shield and escort patients entering the Women's Health Organization (JWHO), Mississippi's last remaining abortion clinic, called the "Pinkhouse", stands watch Tuesday, May 3, 2022 in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) Rogelio V. Solis

Published: 5/18/2022 6:02:00 AM
Modified: 5/18/2022 6:00:14 AM

Nancy Greenwood of Concord is a clinic escort and member of the board of directors of the Equality Health Center. These opinions are her own.

When I’m wearing my rainbow-colored clinic escort vest, women voluntarily share their abortion stories with me. Bill was different.

A recent Friday afternoon, I was chatting with five pro-choice strangers at a rally in front of the New Hampshire State House. All of them were younger than me (68) and did not know life before Roe.

I shared the story about being a high school sophomore in 1970 and helping a 16-year-old friend get to New York City for a back-alley abortion. I pointed out to them that teen boys and young men didn’t want to be fathers just because they had unprotected sex.

Before Roe, boys/ men who impregnated a girl/woman could lie, deny and walk away. Often his parents would protect him. They had dreams of college, travel and careers for their sons, not fatherhood. Sometimes there were ‘shot-gun’ weddings. I also pointed out that today we have access to cheap DNA tests so denial will not be possible and child support will become a long-term financial responsibility.

As I was sharing this, a man with gray hair like mine started to pass by. Although we don’t know each other, I recognized him from a local business. I impulsively called out “Bill,” (which is not his real name, because I don’t want to identify him) and as he turned towards me, I said, “may I ask you a question?” 

He thought for a second, then walked over to me. I started by pointing out that his gray hair matched mine, so he was probably around back in my day, before Roe. I repeated to him what I had explained about young men not wanting to be fathers just because they had sex. I told him I was frustrated that older men don’t speak up about what it was like. I asked, “Don’t you remember”?

He paused for a moment, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “we went out of state.” That was the last thing I expected him to say! As he nodded and turned to walk off, I said, “that’s why you have to support us.” I was wearing my rainbow clinic escort vest.

My other story was from about five years ago. After my husband Ronnie had golfed with some friends, I met up with them at the club. They were bantering about the course, the shots, etc. when one of them turned to me and said, “you know, I had a shot-gun wedding back in the 60s. I was 18. Lucky for us it worked out OK. We still live together and we like each other.”

That was an unsolicited, startling revelation.

One fact that anti-abortion folks also conveniently ignore is the danger a pregnant woman faces from her unhappy partner. “Murder is A Leading Cause of Death in Pregnancy in USA” was a report from BuzzFeed back in November 2021.

“Pregnant people are more than twice as likely to be murdered during pregnancy and immediately after giving birth than to die from any other cause, according to a nationwide death certificate study. Homicide far exceeds obstetric causes of death during pregnancy.”

It continues, “pregnant women face a risk of being murdered 16% higher than women the same age who are not pregnant, the recently released Obstetrics & Gynecology journal study concludes.”

Based on these different, factual abortion stories, it is apparent that reproductive choices should be left up to the individuals involved, and not the government.  Desperate 16-year old girls will get on a bus alone and travel 250 miles to obtain an illegal abortion; unmarried young couples, unprepared to be young parents, will travel outside of their state to obtain an illegal abortion; some young couples, unable to obtain a legal abortion will be forced into early marriages. 

When the government can force a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy, the government puts her very life in danger from an angry partner who does not want to become a father.  For 49 years the government has allowed women to make their reproductive choices, and that should not change now.  Trust women!




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