Abortion

Abortion

For many years, the anti-abortion movement, in particular the radical group “Lambs of Christ,” vowed to try to close the only clinic in North Dakota, the Fargo Women’s Health Organization.  The clinic was owned by my good friend, Susan Hill, who passed away last year and was run by another good friend, Jane Bovard.  In addition, their primary doctor was Susan Wicklund, who was actually the first abortion doctor to talk publicly about anti-abortion terrorism in an interview on “Sixty Minutes.”

Hoping to make North Dakota an “abortion free state,” the anti-abortion groups were merciless.  This little clinic, which looked like an old house, was truly the last bastion on the lone prairie. At times, there were literally thousands of protestors at their front door, the clinic was the target of numerous physical attacks and the staff was terrorized on a regular basis.  Ms. Bovard, who lived right in Fargo, was the target of incessant stalking, death threats and protests at her home.   Still, the clinic survived.  And, ultimately, Ms. Bovard went off on her own and opened up the Red River Women’s Clinic.  Because of the small population base, the town could not handle two clinics and the FWHO closed.  So, today there is still one clinic in North Dakota and, knock on wood, things seemed to have quieted down considerably in that state.

Abortion

Abortion

Over the years, the effort to save or close the only abortion clinic in North Dakota was a cause célèbre for activists on both sides of the issue.  Whenever anything of interest happened out there, the fundraising letters started flying.  Remember, when things are quiet, it’s very difficult to raise money.

And now we have Jackson, Mississippi.  For many years, there has been only one clinic in the state, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and it was owned by, you guessed it, Susan Hill.  It was (and is) an absolutely beautiful clinic and it has been serving women in that state for many years.  But it is now in danger of closing – and not because of anti-abortion terrorism.

Phil Bryant Abortion

Phil Bryant Abortion

No, it seems that the Governor of the state, Phil Bryant, is ready to sign a bill into law that would require doctors who work in abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital and to be board certified in obstetrics and gynecology.  Diane Derzis, the new owner of the clinic, said its physicians are OB-GYN certified but only one has admitting privileges. That’s because most of her doctors live out of state because they have been stalked and threatened and most hospitals will not grant such privileges to out-of-state physicians.

Of course, anti-abortion advocates are saying these laws are necessary to insure the “safety” of the women.  How kind of them!  And then they discover that – oh look – I didn’t know that getting privileges was so difficult.  Gee whiz, I guess that means the clinic will have to close.  What a surprise!

This is

Susan Hill

Susan Hill

not about making abortion safer.  It’s about politics – once again – and it’s about claiming bragging rights for having the first state in the nation to have no abortion clinics.  But, of course, we all know that the women in Mississippi will continue to get abortions because the desire to NOT bear a child is so strong that a woman will go to extraordinary lengths to terminate her pregnancy.  Oh, yes, for some women, especially poor ones, this will be yet another obstacle to overcome.  But as history has shown, that woman will scrounge up a little more money for the bus trip to Louisiana or Alabama.  They will find an abortion provider and do what they have to do.

Meanwhile, however, the legislators in Mississippi thump their chests and crow about how they are now an “abortion free state.”  Abortions may no longer be performed in Mississippi, but women in Mississippi will continue to get abortions.