Weeks 4 and 5: Who, What, When, Where, Why and VA’s State Delegates

These last two weeks of research have led me down many paths, some of which were exciting and new, and others which were, admittedly, dead ends. I am learning that the pace of research ebbs and flows, but that all progress is good progress.

I spent the last two weeks going beyond what the CDC has to offer in terms of abortion’s epidemiology, and looking at what the Internet at large has to say; if you can believe it, I did this on purpose. When you look at a human rights issue like abortion, and take it out of the context of a courtroom or a doctor’s office, it really is a matter of the heart and mind for the American people. Therefore, I wanted an uncensored, honest look at what the “pro-choice,” the “pro-life,” and the neither-nor Americans had to say about the matter. The truth is, neither “side” of the abortion debate has all the facts, and nobody has all the answers, but it is the goal of many NGOs and grassroots groups to get the information out there. I would really encourage you to watch the following video on the facts of abortion in the U.S., provided by the leading organization for reproductive health research, the Guttmacher Institute:

Alright, PSA over. In terms of the who, what, when, where, and why research I did over the last two weeks, I have tried to compile it into what I think of as Fact Sheets: single-sided documents explaining the basics of abortion to the general reader. I am not yet sure what I plan to do with them, but consolidating the great amount of information I have come across is at least helpful to me in the creative process. The reasons women obtain abortions, at what point in the fetus’s gestation, and the “type” of women who get abortions (hint: there isn’t one), are all important in understanding the legislation surrounding the matter, and how it has developed over time.

Secondly, I spent much of the last two weeks writing up case summaries of Supreme Court abortion decisions. Maureen Harrison and Steve Gilbert co-wrote a great series titledĀ Abortion Decisions of the United States Supreme Court, one book each for the 1970’s, the 1980’s, and the 1990’s. These books translate the “legalese” into common speak, and define many legal terms, which is helpful to a novice like me.

Lastly, I have begun the hunt for new state delegates to interview. I had originally intended to interview Delegates Vivian Watts (D) and Bob Marshall (R), but have had trouble arranging interviews with both of them. I ended up reading the platforms of all 100 VA state delegates, and choosing who to contact from there: while abortion access was not high on many delegates’ agendas, some are very vocal about their stance, and I hope I hear back from them soon on the possibility of an interview.

Until next time!