The Last Abortion Clinic
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Join the Dicussion: What are your thoughts on the ever-increasing number of laws and regulations being passed at the state level that limit access to abortion?  Do you believe it is changing the face of abortion politics in this country?

Dear FRONTLINE,

My job title is "Abortion Specialist" and I support women in making this very difficult decision everyday. One thing that has proven true over and over again is the decision to terminate a pregnancy almost always comes from a place of the woman wanting to be a good mother. Either she knows she isn't in a stable place financially or emotionally and wants the opportunity to provide a good home for her child or she wants to be a better parent to the child/children she already has.

So many of the women in our society have very low self esteem that comes from inherent sexism, abuse, neglect and lack of opportunity; this prevents them from advocating for themselves - eg:saying no to unwanted sex, seeking out appropriate medical care and birth control. Pair that with the fact that no perfect method of birth control has been invented and that many are unreliable even if used as directed and it shouldn't be a mystery to anyone why women continue to get pregnant when they don't intend to. ...

I continually see patients who are caring, compassionate women who have found themselves in a position they never intended to be in but at least trust themselves enough to know that for what ever reason, they cannot take on what is the most important role a woman can attempt.

Nikole Anon
Seattle, WA

Dear FRONTLINE,

I really appreciated your program. It's interesting how public opinion has shifted on this issue, and I was even more intrigued by the conversation you posted on this website between young women in New England universities. I am a 22 year old just graduated from university, and I feel conflicted about the issue of abortion.

On the one hand, I don't think that we educate youth well enough about sex and the responsibilities that go along with it. No matter how much birth control you use, there is always the chance that you can get pregnant. Abstinence is the only sure fire way to protect yourself, and if you chose to have sex, then you should be willing to take on the responsibilities that go along with sex. Protecting the life of unborn children is important.

At the same time, I feel for the women who live in poorer areas of the country who don't have good support systems, live on Medicare, and do not get the education and opportunities they deserve. I find that the pro-life movement is too concerned with saving the life of babies and is not concerned enough with providing a decent life and options for people that live on lower incomes. Both unborn babies and women deserve a life worth living.

As a young women, no, I am not willing to picket for my right for an abortion, but at the same time, I am not willing to picket outside abortion clinics, either. Young women who face life changing choices deserve more respect, love, and compassion than people singing, "Jesus loves the little children." I resent older feminists suggesting that my generation is not willing to stand up for the rights of women. I am, but in other ways. I want to support the people that have to make life altering decisions so they do not feel they must have abortion. I want to insist that people receive good education, opportunities, economic assistance, and sex education so that they do not have to face these choices. I do not purport to have all the answers to the issue, but I do appreciate the service Frontline is providing by starting the discussion. Thank you.

Ginny Wilmhoff

Dear FRONTLINE,

What really saddened me about this program was the Abortion Clinic Owner's belief that Pro-Life clinics give a pregnant women a few things and then abandon her and that the Pro-Choice side would have taken care of her. Besides the fact that that isn't true, let me tell you that my best friend in high school decided to have an abortion her senior year... 11 years later she is now finally at peace (as much as she can be) that she killed her first child. Where were the Pro-Choice people for all those years she suffered from guilt and depression, besides the medical complications? ...

Kimberly Siepmann
Springfield, VA

Dear FRONTLINE,

What amazing coverage! Frontline has successfully opened dialog in a controversy that has become so polarized as to stifle productive discussion. The battle clearly rages on under the radar of most US citizens. We all spend so much time and effort furious at each other rather than productively improving womens health and bolstering supportive communities. Inequities abound in our great democracy. We must all work together to protect basic human rights and freedoms both here and abroad. Personally, I am for both life and choice. I subscribe to the 'get your laws off my body' mentality. Human life is sacred. Liberty for self-determination is likewise precious. Let us support eachother with a healthful conversation of human intimacy, sexuality, and family planning. These are intensely personal and powerful issues that must be treated with respect and kindness. Thank you for reopening the dialog and encouraging transparency.

Ben Brennan

Dear FRONTLINE,

Let me say that I really enjoyed the program. A viewer could, however, come away with the cynical impression that pro-life people only bring up "women's health" as a sneaky way to restrict abortion. In point of fact there is a significant body of scientific data showing that abortion is very destructive to women's health -- from studies on infertility to increases in stress and depression following the procedure, to the controversy over whether abortion leads to an increased risk of breast cancer (the so-called ABC link). And as a result, most pro-life people are motivated by concern & compassion rather than intolerance. That said, it would be well for the pro-life movement to pay attention to their critics, and pay more attention to women after the child is born.

Bo Helmich
Glenwood Springs, Colorado

Dear FRONTLINE,

Just so you know. It is not just people in Mississippi who are opposed to abortion. You seem disappointed that Roe-Wade is being undermined by state laws which do not force some hospitals and doctors to perform abortions. They have a right not to kill fetuses. They have a right to stand up for life.

ken wall

Dear FRONTLINE,

I watched the Frontline abortion program last night and was saddened. I then went to your site to read the discussion with Ivy League girls ages 19-24. I am shocked about how their views on abortion differ from how things were in the 80's (when I was their age). There seems to be such a stigma today, even among the liberal elite of their generation, about the right to control your reproductive freedoms and your future. Most, if not all, of the girls seem slightly condescending toward abortion as a viable alternative. When I was in college, that was the overwhelming decision that girls made, and there really was not a stigma to it.

I think that the shift in opinion revealed by these girls speaks more to the pro-choice movement losing its battle than any Mississippi pro-lifer on your program did.

Lisa Dobbs
Atlanta, GA

Dear FRONTLINE,

Thank you for covering this subject in a comprehensive manner. However, I do have a concern about the images you used to suggest that previously the Pro-Life movement encouraged bombing of abortion clinics and violent protests. The Pro-Life movement never supported, encouraged, or sponsored either of these activities.

Most violent acts were performed by misguided individuals or small fringe groups that were never accepted, and always condemned, by the Pro-Life community. Earlier activities of the Pro-Life movement did include non-violent protests and blockades of abortion clinic entrances. Your footage on violence was not a valid reflection of the facts and did not contribute to your otherwise professional effort to cover this subject.

William Beckman
Chicago, IL

Dear FRONTLINE,

Two sides missing each other.

Clearly, LIFE is defined as an entity with minimal/developing brain waves, a heart beat, and unique DNA. Anyway you slice it, a fetus is a human life, part of the "human life-cycle" and nothing else. It does deserve the same rights you and I have. "Birthing" does not by itself convey rights to you as an American. It is a right to Life, not a right after birth. The Pro abortion side is silent on the fetus as life because it understands that it is in the wrong.

Women should have certain rights to their bodies and their reproductive systems (the same rights as fetuses). The Pro Abortion side argues those womens points well and should continue.

The middle ground in this argument is - no abortions ever and complete control over your reproductive systems or - NOT GETTING PREGNANT when you don't want to get pregnant. That happy medium will occur when medical research can provide women 100% successful pregnancy protection before fertilization. That is where the pro-abortion resources should focus and spend there efforts. But until then, only abstinence works at 100%.

Please set your priorities. And stop killing.

erie lind
Ann Arbor, MI

Dear FRONTLINE,

I am thrilled that we are finally starting to limit the access we have for abortions. This will make people think before engaging in unprotected sex. I feel that there should be restrictions on abortions. Abortions should be available for women who are raped, involved in incest, or for the safety of the mother. I know too many girls who have used abortion as a form of birth control.

Tasha Bailey
Colchester, Vermont

Dear FRONTLINE,

As a woman who has received an abortion, I too, get caught in the moral web of abortion. My thoughts go back and forth between whether I killed a child, or made decision about my life that was my right to make - the moral consequences being my own, and to no one elses concern. I belief spiritually that we are all accountable for our decisions, and they are ours to make, and if we make decisions that other's Gods or spirits wouldn't advise, it is still my decision to make. I am grateful for the freedom to make decisions about my own life's fate, whatever the consequences are. They are mine to make, and that is what is fundamentally at risk - taking away peoples fundamental rights to choose what they want for their life.

Melissa Murphy
Portland, Maine

Dear FRONTLINE,

After reading many of the posts on the discussion board, I found myself often agreeing with them and often feeling sadness. I am extremely pro-choice. I have a 5 year old son, and I have also had an abortion. Luckly I was 28 when I had to make that decision. It wasn't an easy decision. I prayed, talked with my friends, and realized that it was the best decision for me. I have no emotional problems stemming from that decision, but I also received wonderful support and counseling from the people at the clinic. They talked with me to make sure this was the right decision for me. I have since volunteered for them and can tell you that they often turn away girls and women who are not sure of what they want to do. They don't force women into something that will cause them more emotional harm then they have already had to deal with.

I can tell you that the best way to prevent and even stop abortion is to allow comprehensive sexuality education in schools like in Europe where the teen preg. rate is minimal and the abortion rate is low as well. If people are given the correct tools to make responsible decisions, they will and then abortion will not be needed except in emergencies.

Tanya Medley
Burlington, Iowa

Dear FRONTLINE,

What are those who favor abortion doing to help women deal with the grief that can come on them even 20 years later? What does that do for the "health of the woman"? They keep talking about health, and yes, they include emotional health, but many times the smoking or do-nuts can create ill health later in life.I'd like to see this aspect of the problem covered.

HOney Vickery
Jackson, Ms

Dear FRONTLINE,

... Roe v. Wade somehow morphed a previously-criminal act (murder of an innocent human child) into an acceptable practice. We have a generation of Americans who have been born since Roe v. Wade, and who have been led to believe that "the Supreme Court says that abortion is OK, and it's not against the law, so it must be OK and moral..." These young Americans wince at the thought of the raising of calves to make veal, the clubbing to death of baby seals to make fur coats and other "injustices" to animals, but have been raised on a steady diet from the media, schools, some activists, etc that an abortion "choice" is somehow similar to deciding, "do I get a tattoo, which is permanent, or do I pierce my navel, which is not necessarily a permanent thing?" ...

We must return our nation to the pre-Roe v. Wade times - the horror stories of "back-alley abortions" should not dissuade us from attaining this needed change. ...

Tom Griffith

Dear FRONTLINE,

Ms. Litzinger's comments above are a sobering reminder that one group's voice was not heard at all in this documentary: women who have benefited from informed consent or spousal/parental notification laws:

"Having had the experience of "easy" access to an abortion I can say that I welcome the restrictions that are being put in place by legislatures all over the country...Because abortion access was "easy" I made the biggest mistake of my life."

Some women may -- especially in retrospect -- be quite grateful for the additional information and/or time to consider their choice and not act rashly, as in: "I'm so glad I didn't rush into the abortion choice, even though I was scared and overwhelmed."

Without their perspective, the implication is that only abortion serves woman's best interests...that doesn't seem empowering to women at all.

Deirdre McQuade
Washington, DC

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posted nov. 8, 2006

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