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Thursday, September 1, 2011

I’m often in awe of the strength of women. In my experience, women who seek abortions often exhibit the most strength I’ve witnessed. In awe? Yes. Strengthened myself as a result? Yes. So women who stick their tongues out at abortion stigma and announce to others they’ve had one, and announce loudly and proudly publicly they’ve had an abortion (and to get off their backs), amaze me even more. I’m saddened it must amaze me (stigma, stigma, stigma), but still, I respect the strength.

Jennie Linn McCormack is one of these women. She’s from Idaho. Pocatello, Idaho. And if any of you know much about Idaho, you know just how conservative it is. You may not know this, but, Idaho is one of the states that made it illegal to have an abortion after 20 weeks’ gestation. Jennie was arrested in May for having an abortion (which would’ve required her to go to Salt Lake City, Utah as there aren’t any providers in Idaho that go beyond 14 weeks. She didn't have the financial means to do this, as many women don't.). Allegedly, she performed a self-induced abortion. Get this: her sister’s “friend” called her in to authorities. If you want to read more about Jennie Linn McCormick’s situation, you can read here; but obviously, since we’re abortioneers, we’re supportive of her decision to seek an abortion after 20 weeks, regardless of her reasons. Well, anyway, charges were dropped, but she has now filed a lawsuit challenging the “fetal pain abortion ban.” Jennie is pressing charges against the state saying the ban is unconstitutional as it doesn’t allow for maternal or fetal indications (as reason for abortion later in the pregnancy) as Roe v Wade promises.

I'm incredibly sad that Jennie Linn didn't know about other resources that may have been available to help her obtain a safe, legal abortion. The Justice Fund within the National Abortion Federation is a national abortion fund that can help women in Idaho pay for their abortions (they also help women from any other state where Medicaid doesn't cover abortions). I'm not sure if she ever contacted a clinic, but if she did, I can only hope they tried to connect her to the National Abortion Federation. And hopefully, then, she would've spoken to an individual who would've brainstormed with her and helped with case management in order to get her to a clinic to have an abortion either in Boise, Idaho; Spokane, Washington; Seattle, Washington; Salt Lake City, Utah; or Portland, Oregon. Traveling to such places can place a huge hardship on women, like Jennie; but there are some clinics and abortion funds that will help women pay for the cost of travel, pay for hotels, or set clients up with volunteers so they can stay in their homes.

I think Jennie Linn is a hero for pressing charges against the state and for bringing to light the lack of access to abortion services in Idaho. Whether she realizes it or not, she is facing stigma straight on and telling it to go suck itself. She’s telling the lawmakers in Idaho to do the same. All the while, she’s standing up for all Idaho women – women who are totally undeserved – in hopes of helping pave the way for better rights.

Jennie Linn McCormack. You rock.


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