Viewpoint: Turning back the clocks on women’s rights

By Beth Ellen Warner 

When leaving the Jesup Memorial Library today, I noticed the ladies next door are speaking up with a wonderful sign for all to see, right there on Mt. Desert Street in downtown Bar Harbor, which says, “Dear SCOTUS, Please consider carefully.” 

Nobody likes abortion. Unfortunately, only men in our nation have choice. Men are free of pregnancy, but the only reason women become pregnant is because their eggs are fertilized by men.  

The sad reality about abortion is this: Wealthy white women have always been able to and always will be able to safely terminate unwanted or unplanned or unhealthy pregnancies. It’s just the way it is. 

Roe v. Wade is mostly about and for poor women and often women of color so that they too can safely terminate unwanted or unplanned or unhealthy pregnancies. 

As much as “Right to Lifers” like to spout and bluster about “A baby is not a choice,” this is an ignorant agenda to promote and forward. All children are indeed choices. My mother taught me this. She had wisdom and love for children, all children, for all people, and she embraced Christian values. She was born in 1914, admired Aunt Gertrude, my gramma’s much younger sister who my mom said was “a flapper who fought for women to get their right to vote in 1920.” 

“There is only so much water and food and shelter and air and land on our planet where people can live,” my mom would say and then add, “Overpopulation, Bethie, is the major threat to our well-being as a society. It’s irresponsible and ignorant to bring children into the world and be unable to care for them properly,” she said, shaking her head, looking sad and serious. 

As the years passed, my mom’s feelings never changed on this subject, but she developed additional thoughts.  

“Limiting family size is important and couples really should have only two children, if they have any. We shouldn’t add to our overpopulation problems. We didn’t know this back when you came along, our third child, about limiting family size,” and she would look at me a little ruefully but with love. 

I well remember what it was like before Roe v. Wade protected women. I have distinct, horrible memories of friends who were too young to be moms. I recall a freshman in my dormitory in college who had a botched abortion and tried to recover off campus in a dirty mill town apartment alongside a polluted river, three stories high, and in winter these places used kerosene stoves for heat. They all had a stench to them, a combination of odors from the fuel, rodents and mildew from being damp by the river.  

I remember the social disdain dished out to young high school friends who were unable to terminate unwanted pregnancies. Some mysteriously disappeared, were sent away to give birth elsewhere, often with relatives in another part of the country. Others simply had their babies and suffered horrible embarrassment as they attempted to finish out their high school educations by leaving their babies with their moms and going to school for half days. We women had no choice then. 

Condoms break and diaphragms fail. Often birth control doesn’t work. This means unintended, unplanned and unwanted pregnancies occur. The decision to go forward with a pregnancy or to terminate one is strictly between a woman and her physician/health care provider. The decision should never involve any state or federal government.  

If the freedom of choice is robbed from women in the United States and if Roe v. Wade is overturned, we will also turn back the clock to times when the rights of women were reduced and women were relegated to the same category as toasters and other household appliances.  

It’s time for American men to support American women, to recognize how Roe v. Wade is critical and necessary. Women must have choice the same way men have choice. Women are victims of their biology without Roe v. Wade.   


Beth Ellen Warner resides in Salsbury Cove.



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