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Pro-Life Nation – New York Times

April 8, 2006

wow, I heard the author of this article on the Rachel Maddow Show and was petrified. (I initially forgot to seperate the snips, sorry)

More than a dozen countries have liberalized their abortion laws in recent years, including South Africa, Switzerland, Cambodia and Chad. In a handful of others, including Russia and the United States (or parts of it), the movement has been toward criminalizing more and different types of abortions.
Only if an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother is the procedure permitted. A similar though less restrictive bill is now making its way through the Mississippi Legislature.
In this new movement toward criminalization, El Salvador is in the vanguard. The array of exceptions that tend to exist even in countries where abortion is circumscribed — rape, incest, fetal malformation, life of the mother — don’t apply in El Salvador. They were rejected in the late 1990’s, in a period after the country’s long civil war ended. The country’s penal system was revamped and its constitution was amended. Abortion is now absolutely forbidden in every possible circumstance. No exceptions.
Today, Article 1 of El Salvador’s constitution declares that the prime directive of government is to protect life from the “very moment of conception.” The penal code detailing the Crimes Against the Life of Human Beings in the First Stages of Development provides stiff penalties: the abortion provider, whether a medical doctor or a back-alley practitioner, faces 6 to 12 years in prison. The woman herself can get 2 to 8 years. Anyone who helps her can get 2 to 5 years. Additionally, judges have ruled that if the fetus was viable, a charge of aggravated homicide can be brought, and the penalty for the woman can be 30 to 50 years in prison.
In El Salvador, the law is clear: the woman is a felon and must be prosecuted. According to Tópez, after a report comes in from a doctor or a hospital that a woman has arrived who is suspected of having had an abortion, and after the police are dispatched, investigators start procuring evidence of the crime. In that first stage, Tópez has 72 hours to make the case to a justice of the peace that there should be a further investigation. If enough evidence is collected, she presents the case before a magistrate to get authorization for a full criminal trial before a judge.
During the first round of investigations, police officers interview the woman’s family and friends. “The collecting of evidence usually takes place where the events transpired — by visiting the home or by speaking with the doctor at the hospital,” Tópez said. In some cases, the police also interrogate people who work with the woman. Tópez added that that didn’t happen very often because, she said, “these are women who don’t work outside the home.” (Indeed, the evidence suggests that the ban in El Salvador disproportionately affects poor women. The researchers who conducted the Journal of Public Health study found that common occupations listed for women charged with abortion-related crimes were homemaker, student, housekeeper and market vendor. The earlier study by the Center for Reproductive Rights found that the majority were domestic servants, followed by factory workers, ticket takers on buses, housewives, saleswomen and messengers.)
As they do in any investigation, the police collect evidence by interviewing everyone who knows the accused and by seizing her medical records. But they must also visit the scene of the crime, which, following the logic of the law, often means the woman’s vagina.

“Yes, we sometimes call doctors from the Forensic Institute to do a pelvic exam,” Tópez said, referring to the nation’s main forensic lab, “and we ask them to document lacerations or any evidence such as cuts or a perforated uterus.” In other words, if the suspicions of the patient’s doctor are not conclusive enough, then in that initial 72-hour period, a forensic doctor can legally conduct a separate search of the crime scene. Tópez said, however, that vaginal searches can take place only with “a judge’s permission.” Tópez frequently turned the pages of a thick law book she kept at hand. “The prosecutor can order a medical exam on a woman, because that’s within the prosecutor’s authority,” she said.

In the event that the woman’s illegal abortion went badly and the doctors have to perform a hysterectomy, then the uterus is sent to the Forensic Institute, where the government’s doctors analyze it and retain custody of her uterus as evidence against her.

I feel literally sick to my stomach, reading this. The article includes D.C.’s experience, its terrifying.
This is what banning abortion is all about. Women are way more than incubators!
Pro-Life Nation – New York Times

Update: Atrios posts about “pro-life” supporters in South Dakota. The comments are the best part. The majority of the country approves of choice. We just have to take the threat seriously. Before Alito was allowed to get on the bench, would have made it easier, but we have to take advantage of the awareness when its an issue…… In case you hadn’t heard about the SD law, here’s an article about petitions to overturn the law, and details about the law.


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