Mr. Kelly, I read your opinion in the paper and my question for you is what do you know about women’s lives and experience? What is your goal by restricting abortion? When you have a vagina and uterus, when your body can be violated and impregnated, when your future and autonomy can be compromised by the actions of another human being, then your voice is valid.
Mr. Kelly, I will honor your opinion if you are a man who supports universal access to contraception to prevent abortion, if you are a champion of impoverished or abandoned children, if you are working to prosecute sexual predators and fighting against sexual harassment and assault.
If you are taking it upon yourself to care 24/7 for a child or adult with a severe disability and trying to live on the meager scraps our society provides for single mothers, then your voice is valid.
If you are the father or husband of a woman who decides she cannot give birth and seeks out an illegal abortion and dies in your arms, then your voice is valid.
As a health care provider for more than 30 years, I have cared for thousands of women, yet have never sat across from a woman who did not struggle with her decision about an unplanned pregnancy. It is always one of the hardest decisions a woman will have to make and I trust her with that decision. It is her life and her future.
The only thing that stops abortion is the ability of women to choose when and how many children to have. Studies have repeatedly found that making abortion illegal never stops abortion; it just increases the number of injuries and deaths from unsafe abortion. Effective, affordable contraception makes abortion rare.
The two initiatives currently in the Vermont Legislature will protect women from the self-righteous, callous actions of misguided people who will protect a fetus at the cost of a woman’s life. We obviously need that protection.
If you really care about stopping abortion, preventing pregnancy is the only path. If you care about women’s lives, we need to protect every woman’s right to safe, effective abortion for those rare occasions when it becomes necessary.
August Burns lives in Middlesex.