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As the Supreme Court ponders abortion restrictions, a look back at pro-choice priests and suicide girls

Since the American Supreme Court seems to be about to take America back in time, at least as far as abortion is concerned, we should reconsider where it is headed. Get the location of the country, so to speak.

And no, I’m not going to scare you with horror stories of botched backyard abortions. Not even the “Million Dollar Abortion Ring”, which sent tragic waves through the corrupt Chicago medical and legal circles. I know already.

Rather, I’m here to calm down. To remind you that Roe v. Wade has not instituted a legal abortion, so if she does, the door will not slam all the way down.

The 1973 Roe decision did not mark the start of legal abortion in the United States. In 1971 there were 500,000 illegal abortions, but there were also 500,000 legal abortions in the 31 states that allowed the procedure to preserve the mother’s “life and health”. Four states – New York, Washington, Hawaii, and Alaska – offered abortions just because a pregnant woman wanted them, as if in control of her own body.

“Health” is a rather generic term that is vague enough for many doctors to refer to abortions. Even in Illinois, where our dusty 1872 law allowed abortions “only when necessary to sustain a woman’s life.”

There is still enough leeway to bring about a “therapeutic termination of pregnancy”.

What kind of a circus was that. Spend a few minutes rummaging through 1972 newspapers and you’ll come across situations like that of the 15-year-old, dubbed “Suicide Girl” by a headline writer. Signed to the Audy Home by her mother, who could not afford psychiatric care, the teen ran away, became pregnant, and then vowed to kill herself if she were forced to have the baby.

She was again an Illinois ward that refused to admit her to any of the several Chicago hospitals that volunteered to have an abortion. It all ended in court and on the news.

“I have performed abortions on Michael Reese on similar occasions,” said Dr. Alex Tulsky, a gynecologist there. “It’s done every day, if not at Michael Reese’s, then in other major hospitals in Chicago.”

He stated that, regardless of whether the girl died due to an illness or a psychiatric one, “she is always dead.”

Around 100 abortion rights activists gathered in Federal Plaza on Wednesday. The US Supreme Court had previously heard oral arguments in a case relating to a restrictive abortion law in Mississippi. Tyler LaRiviere / Sun-Times

Meanwhile, assistant prosecutor Robert Novelle argued that the girl was suicidal before pregnancy. “So where is the causal connection between the two?” The Illinois Supreme Court agreed, ruling that her psychiatric condition was not relevant to whether or not a 15-year-old was forced by the state to have a child.

The stories include many comments from lawyers and judges, but not a word from the teenager or her mother, a reminder that while abortion does not end completely, it puts control back in the hands of men where certain religious species insist that it belongs.

After Roe allegedly legalized abortion in the United States, men still found a way to block it. Even in Illinois. Recall that Cook County Chairman George Dunne personally banned abortions at Cook County Hospital in 1980. However, that did not mean that abortions in the county ceased entirely. They were still carried out “ad hoc” at Dunne’s discretion. His reputation.

“Sometimes he said yes and sometimes he said no,” a source told the Sun-Times in 1992 when Dunne admitted he never really had authority to stop the trials and they were resumed.

Sounds good? This is the world we slide back into.

To end it on a positive note, Illinois Suicide Girl finally had an abortion performed. The $ 650 for her trip to New York was paid for by … so I don’t write novels … the Chicago Area Consultation Service on Problem Pregnancies, chaired by Rev. Harold Quigley, who called the girl a “farmer” referred to in the ideology of the Catholic Church. “The mistakes of illegal abortion were so obvious that even priests were sometimes against it. Quigley’s group had produced 8,000 abortions in the past 30 months. The demand for abortions, which women with money in their wallets always have at their disposal, has never been and is never in short supply.

“The effect of the law is to discriminate against the poor and blacks,” Quigley wrote in a letter to John Cardinal Cody.

People complain that society is changing, but some things really stay the same.

A supporter holds a sign during a rally for abortion rights outside the Federal Plaza in Chicago, Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021. The US Supreme Court on Wednesday heard a case in Mississippi that directly affects the constitutional right to abortion, established nearly 50 years ago questions.

A supporter holds up a sign during a rally for the right to abortion outside the Federal Plaza in Chicago on Wednesday.Name Y. Huh / Associated Press

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