On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade…reflections

On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I was reminded of a post that I wrote a few years back.

Several weeks ago I received a number of angry emails in response to an enewsletter that referenced the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to de-fund Planned Parenthood.

Following is my response:

Thank you for your heartfelt email regarding my support of Planned Parenthood. Those who disagreed with me thought that I should not view my opinion. Frankly, when it comes to Komen, I’ve always carried a strong instinctual distrust of their ulterior motives, particularly after they partnered with KFC in the “Buckets for the Cure” program.

Throughout the years they have been neither mission-focused or donor-focused.

And, while the Komen controversy supposedly had nothing whatsoever to do with abortion, it is clear that it did.

And abortion is yet another issue that keeps us stuck in this country.

I am not pro-abortion. No one is. I am pro-choice and that stance was formed in my early 20′s when I was blessed to become good friends with a woman, then 42, who had nearly died from an illegal abortion years earlier.

She told me her story one night over dinner and wine. She spoke of being only 20 and pregnant with her fifth child with a husband who was an abusive alcoholic. She’d married at 16. She spoke of seeing no way out and how, hours after the procedure was performed in a tiny room above a theatre in downtown Detroit, she had begun to hemorrhage. She spoke of how she later left her husband and raised her four children alone. She spoke of her pride in her children, all four college graduates, every one of them uniquely successful in their own right.

To meet her you never would have guessed her story. She was a soft-spoken woman of impeccable grace, dignity and elegance. I knew her to be one of the kindest, gentlest, bravest women I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. Over the years we lost touch but hardly a week goes by when I don’t remember her with gratitude.

It was because of her that I began my lifelong love of running.

For all of our talk about “life,” the issue of a woman’s right to choose has always struck me as being about about money and control. For haven’t abortions been going on since the beginning of time? Indeed, there are many never discussed illegal abortions in the pasts of more than one United States President. Even a Republican. Or two or three.

And haven’t the wealthy always had access to a safe medical procedure, even prior to Roe v Wade?

If the real issue was “life,” wouldn’t we be ensuring that the safety net was there for our seniors, for those with disabilities and others in need?

Wouldn’t we would be supporting programs like Head Start and food stamps, and adequately funding public education?

Wouldn’t we as a nation be ensuring that all have access to quality health care?

Wouldn’t we as a nation oppose the death penalty with every fiber of our being?

And lastly wouldn’t we stop dreaming up senseless wars that do nothing but line the coffers of a select few, and sending our best and brightest off to die?

My regular readers know that my daughter may well be one of them.

To show respect for all, regardless of their race, religion, sexual orientation or gender, and to allow people to live with dignity is what it truly means to be ‘pro-life’.

Being both “pro-life” and pro-choice means recognizing the inherent value and potential in every living human being. In recognizing the people make mistakes, that contraception doesn’t always work, that the decision to have an abortion is not one that comes lightly, ever, but that people make mistakes and accidents do happen.

Thank you for writing.

3 Responses to “On the anniversary of Roe v. Wade…reflections”

  1. Mazarine says:

    Dear Pam,

    Thank you for standing up for a woman’s right to choose what she does with her body. I appreciate you. And this issue is very near and dear to my heart. I fully believe in people’s right to have abortions, even though I’ve never had one.

    For me, all of my friendships are predicated on similar values, one of which is,

    “We believe women have the right to equality, and the right to do what they wish with their bodies, no matter their age, religion, sexual preference, or where they are in the world.”

    Whoever doesn’t like your stance on abortion is not committed to women’s rights anyway. And there are fewer and fewer of these people.

    I loved your enewsletter last year, and I wrote a response here:



  2. Ellen Murphy says:

    Pamela, I am a new subscriber to your newsletter and happened upon this entry. I am against abortion. I sympathize with your story about illegal abortion and the effect it had on you. Please understand that for many of us, the stories of late term abortions, abortion as birth control, abortion for sex selection, abortion for birth defects, and forced abortion have the opposite effect. Roe v. Wade made abortion legal, saving some lives, but extinguishing many more. Ellen

  3. Pamela Grow says:

    Thank you for writing. I understand. We are all shaped by our own personal experiences and I appreciate and accept yours.

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