A Message from Elinor & Alice on Fighting for Abortion Access

May 5, 2022
Elinor Lockwood Yeo and Alice Verhoeven

We write to you today as Old South members and former directors of women's health centers where early pregnancies were legally terminated - Elinor Yeo in Milwaukee, Alice Verhoeven in Boston.  We witnessed violence against us and our staff, picketing of office and sometimes of home, and personal threats.  We have always described ourselves as "pro-choice" not "pro-abortion" - and meant it!  In addition, in the 1980's, Elinor served for several years as chair of the national board of NARAL, which continues today as a leading pro-choice organization.

We each could relate many stories of difficult decisions to terminate made not by some casual whim but because of personal distress, financial necessity, disappointment, or betrayal.  The issue now before the country in the proposed version of the Supreme Court ruling is correctly phrased as "right to privacy".  This could apply in legal decisions of courts or state legislatures to a wide range of personal choices and the impact should trouble us all.  

Pastor Martin Niemoller, in another era in Germany, made his famous quote about ignoring the persecution of Socialists, trade unionists, and Jews only to recognize that they had been eliminated and weren't around when he was targeted.  Here in a state where Roe is codified, it is also sometimes difficult to grasp the scope of the impact elsewhere of the proposed Court decision.  We seem to be n a continuing dangerous and alarming decline in the political and social fabric of this country.  As confessing Christians, we cannot cede our identity to the so-called "Christian Right".  Each of us needs to find large or small ways through political campaigns and action groups to be more involved in protecting the right to privacy. In this way, we affirm by our actions the strong and inclusive message of our faith.