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Abortion Task Force: Who We Are

(From Womankind July 1973)

(Editor's Note: The Abortion Task Force was organized as a workgroup of the CWLU after Roe v. Wade effectively legalized abortion.)

The “problem” with abortion used to be that abortions were dangerous and illegal. Now the “problem” is that abortions are hard to get and expensive.

The Abortion Task Force has been challenging those institutions supposedly providing quality health care. In the process of our questioning, the Abortion Task Force has learned a lot about the health care system in Chicago and Illinois.

Health care is given for profit, not the patients, for the profit of the doctors, hospitals and related industries (drug companies, medical equipment suppliers, etc.). If one type of heath care is not profitable or “interesting” to the professionals, then the service is not provided.

The Abortion Task Force is one program of the Chicago Women’s Liberation Union we formed in order to collectively fight for the right of all women to easily obtain an abortion upon request. Abortions are becoming an extremely common operation, for doctors and medical institutions. Some say that abortions are “more common than tonsillectomies”. We are more concerned with the quality of the procedure than with the moral questions surrounding abortions. We understand that there are MORAL questions around the issue of abortion and we feel women should make the decision to have an abortion with her feelings on those questions in mind.

When women find themselves pregnant, we often must decide (1) if we can afford the child on our income, (2) if we would still have enough time for our lives, (3) whether we, our husbands and our family can handle the addition of another person, a time-consuming one at that (4) if the child will cause our lives to go in a direction that we don’t want.

Since the Supreme Court has upheld our right to make this decision, clinics and hospitals in Chicago are available to perform an abortion in the first three months. However, these places are overcrowded, often make us feel alone and awful and finally are too expensive.

But we have as much trouble getting good health care as we do abortions. Abortions could be avoided if safe and effective birth control were available for all women. Like all powerless groups of people, we must continuously force the health industry to understand and have concern for our medical needs. Who understands better our needs and share’s concern for our well being than other women? We need to insure that enough public health facilities are available to meet the demand for abortions adequately, that any regulations made are to protect or heath interests and that the cost, if any, is based on the cost of the operation (abortions are very inexpensive to do) and the they be flexible based on the individual woman’s income. Why should anyone be denied good heath care because they can’t pay? Good heath care is a human right that we all must fight for.

Many times we must handle all the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy for which she is obviously not the only one responsible. It is important that we give her the support that she needs and see that she gets the medical care that she needs.

Where To Go From Here

Hospitals are not now meeting the demands of their communities in providing adequate abortion services. We want to change that situation. We plan to work with women in communities who feel this lack of service and together demand that from their hospitals. We will be speaking to groups of women and to women in the neighborhoods. We will also distribute what information we have on abortion and on the hospitals.

We have continued our investigations into various abortion clinics around the city in order to determine their quality. We will be developing an effective referral service. Women are now working to set up this service and to find women who want to give some time. We also are continuing to investigate the medical power structure in Chicago and to plan the most effective strategy for winning our demands. Women interested in any of these projects can call us at the CWLU office, 348-4300.

What’s Happening With Legislation

State: Three pro-abortion bills introduced by the Public Health Department have been passed by the legislature and sent to the governor for signing. The bills weren’t passed until after July 1, which according to the state constitution would delay the effective date for a year. However, the governor will amend the bills so that they can take effect immediately.

Federal: Three constitutional amendments have been introduced in Congress which pose a threat to women’s rights to abortion.

One bill in the House of Representatives would establish that life begins at conception, therefore, making abortions illegal.

Another bill before the house would return jurisdiction on the abortion to the states and probably would result in a repeal of pro-abortion laws.

A Senate bill would make abortions legal only when performed to save the life of the women.

The Illinois legislature has passed a resolution supporting the three federal amendments but the resolution has no power of law. Since abortion became legal, pro-abortion forces have been working to facilitate access to abortions and encourage the creation of facilities to provide inexpensive, quality abortions. The more facilities operation, the quicker abortions become established medical practice, and the more public support for women for abortions, the more difficult it will be to reverse the Supreme Court decision with other legislation.


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