America finds itself in the throes of abortion furore again – in real life and virtually.
In a case that could potentially have long term consequences (whatever the result) in the same way as the Roe v Wade landmark legal decision did in 1973 Jennie McCormack’s fight is set to make its way up through the US justice system. As a financially struggling, single mother of three she found herself in an impossible situation when she became pregnant last year. What marks her case out particularly, among the many other tragic tales, is that she lives in Idaho and the only solution she could find to her dilemma was to try and terminate the pregnancy herself when she heard about mifepristone being available via the internet. Many women find themselves in similar difficult situations, particularly in conservative, ‘bible-belt’ states in America, of trying to acquire a legal abortion with the many hoops required to achieve this and the costs involved. The added problem in Idaho is that it has a law which bans women from carrying out their own abortion, though this has never been enforced before. Though the case was dropped for lack of evidence she could still be prosecuted and her lawyer has taken the decision to try and prevent this by bringing a suit on her behalf claiming the law is unconstitutional. As well as hoping to protect Jennie, herself, from prosecution they hope to set a precedent so that other women in Idaho and other conservative states will be free to access treatment via the internet and not have to suffer the additional anguish inflicted on them by the current situation in the US. Not that this will stop the persecution she is experiencing at the hands of her neighbours in small town Pocatello where she has been ostracised and subjected to all kinds of abuse so that she has become virtually a prisoner in her own home.
In an strange twist of art imitating life it seems that she may have found an unexpected ally in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and for the uninitiated – mostly those who don’t have children – this is an award-winning, cult US TV series/feature film/computer game/comic strip phenomenen). She too finds herself pregnant and needing to access an abortion. As the Guardian newspaper highlighted last week: The new issue of the weekly Buffy comics sees Buffy taking some time off from staking vampires through the heart to deal with what publisher Dark Horse called “a rather personal problem”. The creator, Joss Whedon is quoted as saying he doesn’t usually get soapboxy but feels strongly the need to support the debate which is eroding a woman’s right to choose. This will bring home the dilemmas many women face in real life to a whole new audience and may facilitate some interesting parent/child TV dinner conversations.