A story out of Pennsylvania illustrates the tragic and extremely dangerous consequences of laws that restrict abortion access. A Polk Township 13-year-old girl performed a self-induced abortion using a pencil. During the process the girl became horribly sick, began having contractions, and ultimately delivered the baby at home.
But this story gets worse. The girl was apparently in a sexual relationship with Michael James Lisk, a 30-year-old man who has now been charged with rape and concealing the death of a child. Apparently the girl was in contact with Lisk while she was in labor. According to the criminal complain, Lisk came to the girl’s house and removed the baby in a plastic bag and buried it in a wooded area. A state police forensic unit later discovered the body and are planning to conduct an autopsy.
Lisk’s involvement only surfaced thanks to staff at Lehigh Valley Hospital who treated the girl. While at the hospital the girl admitted to conducting a “home abortion” on herself. She apparently told staff that she believed Lisk was the father of the baby and that she had been having a sexual relationship with the girl since June 2009. According to news reports the girl is still receiving medical treatment from the incident.
The ever-brilliant Care2 contributor Robin Marty’s coverage of this story over at rhrealitycheck.org sums up the problem of restricting abortion access to women, and in this case, to girls. As Robin points out, Pennsylvania is a parental consent state, meaning that this girl had no real legal access to abortion. So what happened? Did she take the advice of anti-choice activists and embrace this “gift”? No. She tried to abort the baby with a pencil and nearly killed herself in the process. Because that’s what happens when desperation sets in.
Abortion access would not have changed the tragic nature of a predator impregnating a child, and hopefully the law takes care of Lisk. The fact that this relationship even happened shows a cultural failure that started long before the pregnancy. But when women and girls have open access to reproductive health services it can mean the difference between the loss of one life or two. This girl got lucky, if you can call surviving a DIY abortion and having your sexual victimhood exposed as luck. And a culture that supports open access to abortion care is a culture that has recognized that women and girls have worth, that their lives and their health have independent value, a lesson clearly needed in the case of this young teen.
photo courtesy of erkillian5 via Flickr