Remember the Woman

Women Deserve Better®

Members of Congress Briefing
Rayburn Gold Room
July 17, 2002


Thank you, Serrin.

It is a special honor for me to be with you here to talk directly to those who have a huge impact on the lives of women and speak on a subject I am passionate about and have been involved with since my mother helped to form the New York State Right to Life Party. We marched here to support all women and protest the violence against them, legislated by Roe v. Wade.

In just 6 short months we will mark the 30th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. And while many will remember the 40 million American children that were never born, I want us to also remember the 25 million women and girls in America today who have personally experienced an abortion.

I want you to remember a 13-year-old African-American named Dawn Ravenell, who skipped junior high one January day in 1985 to have an abortion. She died 3 weeks later having never regained consciousness from this legal procedure. Which part of safe, legal and rare would this be?

I want you to put yourself in the shoes of Marion Syverson, who was raised in a very abusive environment. At age 15, she sought assistance from a local church when she found herself pregnant. Instead of help, Marion was handed $250, so she thought that God wanted her to have an abortion. She wanted to have her baby – where were the resources to rescue her from that abusive family? We let her down. We didn’t give her a place to go, a phone number to call, a safe haven. We could have saved her from the abusive situation and helped her to make choices about her pregnancy. Is abortion the best we could do for her??

I want you to remember Guadalupe Negron, who sought an abortion at age 33 because she thought her husband would not be able to afford another child. After infection set in, one limb after another was amputated until she died leaving her husband and 4 children motherless. Didn’t she have a right to know assistance is available for women in exactly this situation?

And as you revisit the issue of partial birth abortion, I want you to put yourself in the place of a woman who hoped that if she hid the pregnancy long enough she would have been have protected from abortion legally and found the support she needed. But instead she experiences three days of forced labor, risks her future fertility, and while she is awake, fully realizes what is happening to her baby. How does this help her?

Imagine the desperation of a woman so terrified of what her boyfriend, parents, employer, or school will do or not do to support her and is willing to swallow poison, RU486. And after 3-4 visits to a clinic, comes face to face with a recognizable fetus as she aborts at home, at work, in her dorm or doubles over in a grocery store. How is this good medicine?

We mourn our missing children with these women. And we remember the women who have been rendered infertile or died from legal but lethal abortion.

This is violence against women. This is the failure of medicine to help and heal. This is the failure of our American society to help and protect women. We need to address the reasons that women seek abortions and help them find the resources that are available to ease their situations. To coordinate the resources nationwide. Politically women have always sought to address the root causes. This isn’t news. The early American feminists who fought for our right to vote, fought for the rights of pregnant women – for society to change to accept them, not for them to change to be accepted by society.

As my friend, Emmy winner and honorary chair of Feminists for Life, Patricia Heaton has said, “Women who are experiencing an unplanned pregnancy also deserve to experience unplanned joy.”

This year, remember the woman. Become her voice. And help us redirect this debate by focusing on solutions — because women deserve better. Thank you.