Letter to the Editor: Men attempting to force women to carry to term infringes their rights

Anthony Comstock

Anthony Comstock | Photo courtesy of Bettman Collection

The attempt to turn Quincy into a “sanctuary city” may have unintended consequences for its proponents.

Legal abortions in the U.S. were nearly halved from 1990-2017 (Guttmacher Institute) due in part to changes in the 90s to sex education and prophylactic availability (NIH). Since then, a record number of abortion providers have shuttered, and states enacted the most restrictive abortion laws since 1973.

The effect? Abortions have gone up eight percent after three straight decades of decline (Guttmacher).

The National Academy of Medicine concluded that “evidence suggests that legislation and practices that permit women to obtain abortions in proper medical surroundings will lead to fewer deaths and a lower rate of medical complications than will restrictive legislation and practices.” Studies like these support the belief abortions should “be safe, legal and rare.”

It is a partisan issue. It seems a Republican Right to Life staffer who also is an alderman initiated these actions or was the contact person. 

In a 2022 Pew poll, 71 percent of Democrats felt abortion is not a moral issue or morally acceptable in most cases. Seventy percent felt women should have more say than men in lawmaking. Sixty-eight percent of Republicans felt it is morally wrong in most cases, and 41% felt women should have more say than men in lawmaking.

It would be quite entertaining in 2023 to hear an attempt at a rational argument against women having more input on something that occurs entirely within the female body and affects women much more than men. 

Sixty-three percent of all U.S. women feel abortion should be legal in most or all cases. I wonder how many of the city councils Mark Lee Dickson has approached carry a majority of women? Or women at all?

The Comstock Act, from which the actions of Dickson and his lawyer were imagined, is 150 years old. Anthony Comstock said his career was based on the “fire-and-brimstone faith of his childhood.” Interestingly, he was not against birth control. He was against birth control devices, which he termed “lewd.” Comstock also was outspoken against women getting the vote.

In his job as a postal agent, Comstock requested material under the guise of a distraught husband, and when the material was provided, he had the provider arrested. Later in life, he boasted that a total of 15 people had committed suicide waiting for or while in jail due to his reign of terror versus “obscene materials.”

These included anatomy books for schools.

Judge J.C. Ruppenthal in 1919, after reviewing the various laws, called the set of acts “haphazard and capricious” and lacking “any clear, broad, well-defined principle or purpose.”

The restrictions on birth control in the Comstock laws were effectively rendered null and void by Supreme Court decisions Griswold v. Connecticut (1965) and Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972).

We all want healthy babies. Men attempting to force women to carry to term infringes their rights to freedom, self-defense and privacy — all restrictions to which no man would agree.

Sam Middendorf
Quincy, Illinois

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