AS PART of my theological seminary education, I got an internship on the campus ministry staff at Penn State University beginning in the fall of 1969. Just as I arrived in State College, a local minister was arrested in his home, taken to his church office where his counseling files were confiscated by the local police, and then put in jail for the night. He was bailed out the next day and led the worship service at his church the following Sunday.
The “crime” for which the Reverend was arrested and jailed was that he had helped to arrange an abortion for a Penn State University student. He was part of a network called the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion. The CCS put women who were determined to end their pregnancies in touch with competent physicians who were willing to take the risk of performing abortions, knowing that the women in question might very well seek unsafe — and possibly fatal — alternative abortion procedures otherwise.
The role of this particular minister in the CCS network became known when the young woman confessed about her abortion to her parents, and he was arrested. The arresting officers did him a favor by confiscating his counseling files. This was ruled an illegal search and the charges were dismissed. I never learned the legal consequences of the physician who performed the abortion.
With the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in 1973, the services of the CCS were, by and large, no longer needed.
I thought of this incident from pre-Roe v. Wade days, now that it looks like we may well be headed for a post-Roe v. Wade era.
Post-Roe v. Wade will not be the same as pre-Roe v. Wade. There will not be a nationwide abortion ban. But we may see the need for an updated version of that CCS network in states where abortion could become criminalized.
Consider a woman in post-Roe v. Wade America, living in an illegal abortion state, who wishes to end her pregnancy. If she has the requisite financial resources, she should have little difficulty. With a plane ticket to, say, New York or Boston, and with the proper appointments in place, she’ll get her abortion and be back home in a matter of days.
But what of the woman seeking to end her pregnancy in an illegal abortion state and who does not have such means? Could she seek the services of a successor network to the CCS? I believe that such networks in the illegal abortion states — and they’ll involve far more participants than just members of the liberal clergy — will be put in place. Their role will be to help arrange for women to obtain safe and legal abortions where they are permitted and perhaps arrange for whatever financial assistance they can.
Some women will take advantage of such a network. Others, for various reasons, will not. In the latter case, the services of a “bootleg abortionist” will probably be sought, with possibly harmful, if not fatal, results.
I also wouldn’t put it past legislatures in the illegal-abortion states to enact laws that would criminalize the efforts of those involved in the networks just described. Such laws most likely would not stand up to court challenges, but they would give certain legislators and governors yet another means to tout their “pro-life” cred.
In whatever ways it plays out, abortions will continue to be performed in a post-Roe v. Wade era. Some will be legally obtained, others will not. Some will be safe, others may prove fatal.
This, my dear pro-lifers, is what you have sold your souls to Donald Trump for, to get a Supreme Court that has brought us to the brink of a post-Roe v. Wade America. Is it worth that price?