A little something to get your blood boiling on a Monday morning:
A Pennsylvania woman has been sentenced to up to 18 months in prison for obtaining so-called abortion pills online and providing them to her teenage daughter to end her pregnancy. Jennifer Ann Whalen, 39, of Washingtonville, a single mother who works as a nursing home aide, pleaded guilty in August to obtaining the miscarriage-inducing pills from an online site in Europe for her daughter, 16, who did not want to have the child. Whalen was sentenced on Friday by Montour County Court of Common Pleas Judge Gary Norton to serve 12 months to 18 months in prison for violating a state law that requires abortions to be performed by physicians.... Whalen told authorities there was no local clinic available to perform an abortion and her daughter did not have health insurance to cover a hospital abortion, the Press Enterprise newspaper of Bloomsburg reported.
The authorities learned about the abortion after Whalen wound up having to take her daughter to a hospital after all—the girl was suffering from severe side effects. But Whalen shouldn't be in jail. The politicians and anti-choice activists who've done all they can to make safe and legal abortions harder and harder to obtain—by shutting down clinics, scaring women away from clinics, regulating clinics out of existence—are the ones who should be headed to jail, not this working mom.
Reuters notes that there was an abortion clinic 74 miles away, in Harrisburg, implying that a safe and legal abortion was a 90-minute drive away. Not true:
Restrictions on Abortion
In Pennsylvania, the following restrictions on abortion were in effect as of July 1, 2014:
• A woman must receive state-directed counseling that includes information designed to discourage her from having an abortion and then wait 24 hours before the procedure is provided.
Jennifer Whalen is a single mom who works full time as a nursing home aide; she most likely makes minimum wage or close to it. Whalen couldn't afford to take two days off work to drive back and forth to Harrisburg to get her daughter the abortion she needed; Whalen certainly couldn't afford to spend the night in a hotel in Harrisburg. So Whalen did the best she could for her daughter under very difficult circumstances—and make no mistake: Those circumstances are difficult by design. Anti-choice politicians have worked to make safe and legal abortions harder and harder to obtain. They make getting a safe-and-legal-abortion-clinic-abortion financially and logistically impossible for families like Whalen's and then those same politicians turn around and punish Whalen for getting her daughter the only abortion she could get her. And there's this: Whalen doesn't have health insurance and she is paid poverty-level wages for the important work she does. Our economic system impoverishes working people like Whalen and then persecutes them for the choices they make under duress.
If pro-choice activists created an online fundraiser for Jennifer Whalen and her daughter—to cover the costs of an appeal, to pay for their living expenses while Whalen isn't working—I would donate. And I bet I'm not the only one who would.