April 08, 2006

What would it be like if abortion were illegal in the US?

Really illegal?

That's the situation in the Central American nation of El Salvador, where all abortions have been illegal since 1998. And where a constitutional amendment protecting the right of fetuses from conception was adopted in 1999. In El Salvador, the term 'forensic vagina specialist' describes a job that actually exists.

What pro-life means in El Salvador

D.C. had a back-alley abortion in El Salvador. It put her in the hospital— and sent her to court.
[Photo: Donna Ferrato/NYT]

In this coming Sunday's New York Times Magazine, reporter Jack Hitt has a cover story called 'Pro-Life Nation,' about how abortion has been criminalized in El Salvador. Hitt was interviewed on Thursday morning's Rachel Maddow Show on Air America Radio. Transcribing part of that interview for this post gave me chills.

Maddow: El Salvador, you say, is the only country that has an active law enforcement apparatus around this stuff. Prosecutors actually employ people to do things like take womens' uteruses into evidence if they've been removed after hysterectomies in botched abortions. There's a whole system set up within prosecution ... within prosecutors' offices to follow up these crimes.

Hitt: Yeah. I interviewed a prosecutor and a judge who are involved in the routine, you know, process of handling abortion cases. And yes, when a doctor does a pelvic exam on a woman and sees any sign of an abortion, police are called and then, if there's any ambiguity in the doctor's assertions, the state has the right to essentially get a search warrant for the vagina, and to have a state-sponsored forensic gynecologist come and essentially examine the scene of the crime.

Maddow: By force if necessary?

Hitt: Well, it's not by force. There's a judicial — it's like a search warrant that has to be procured first, and then ... I have not heard of any woman resisting the search warrant.

Maddow: But if the woman doesn't consent and there's a search warrant. I mean ... In American law, right, if you don't consent to a search of your house and there's a search warrant, your house is gonna get searched.

Hitt: Right. There, I think the culture has not yet produced a woman in the hospital who would resist the search warrant. At least as not as far as I found when I was talking to people.

But, but that role exists. The country has a national forensic institute. It's like their national sort of CSI institute that does all their genetic testing and forensic studies and DNA collection, that kind of thing. And it's doctors from that forensic institute who are called in to do a separate examination of the woman for—

Maddow: Of the crime scene.

Hitt: Of the crime scene.

Maddow: The vagina or the uterus.

Hitt: Right.

AlterNet has posted the audio of Rachel Maddow's interview with Jack Hitt here. I'm sure I don't need to tell you to go listen to the whole thing. Pay special attention to Maddow's last couple of sentences.

You'll find Hitt's story on abortion in El Salvador here.

Posted by Magpie at April 8, 2006 06:51 PM | Human Rights | TrackBack(1) | Technorati links |

First off, I'm a pro-choice atheist. Really.

If women weren't the unprincipled whores they are, abortion wouldn't be an issue in this country.

Posted by: Don Long at April 11, 2006 05:39 PM

I don't care what you believe. You're disgusting.

It would be fun to retort that if men weren't the conscienceless, irresponsible sluts with two heads and half a brain that everyone knows they are, abortion wouldn't be an issue in this country. But really, it's just the sort of man that projects his own (usually well-deserved) self-loathing onto women that's like that. The rest of them are often lovely people and I'd hate to lump them in with a useless sod like yourself.

Takes two to make a baby and everyone has their moments of weakness. Though women usually end up with the greater part of the bill. And don't get me started on child support, because only for the super-rich can it begin to make up for the lost wages incurred by just being a woman with a child.

Posted by: natasha at April 12, 2006 02:28 AM