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Illegal Abortionists

by Ethan Thompson

[commentary by Kayley Monn]

The clip I chose is from a special called; For Women Only: Abortion. The special features a panel of people ranging in careers, and each offers a unique viewpoint on the issues surrounding abortion. The panel members are: Dr. Kleegman, a professor, Father Granfield, a professor of criminal law at a Catholic university, Harriet Pilpel, an attorney, and Dr. Nathan Rappaport, an abortionist.
I chose to use a clip from this special because I think it adequately demonstrates the viewpoint towards women’s health issues during this time period. This segment aired in 1969, and through my research I have noticed that many programs shot during this time look at women’s health issues through everyone’s perspective- except the woman herself. Instead of talking about how the woman is impacted by certain advances and choices made regarding women’s health issues, it seems as though people steered the conversation towards the impact on everyone but the woman herself. This is clearly demonstrated when Dr. Rappaport says, “I as an illegal abortionist, I’m the scape goat for a situation that you people are responsible for!” This statement completely shocked me. He insinuates deserving the audience’s pity, as opposed to the woman who has to undergo the abortion herself and deal with both the physical and mental effects afterwards. Not only that, but he insinuates that a pregnancy is a negative “situation”, and he is the thankless illegal- abortionist-hero saving a woman from her unwanted pregnancy.
Throughout the entire segment, many opinions were given on the matter of abortion. But none seemed to be directed towards the average woman: the person who actually undergoes an abortion. The issue of abortions was analyzed from the legal, medical, and financial perspective. But no one took the time to talk about why women need the right to choose what is best for their body, and how abortions directly correlate and effect women’s health. I chose this clip because I think that Dr. Rappaport’s behavior exemplifies the overall view of women’s health in the media during this time: it effects everyone else before it effects women.

Illegal Abortionists: Unethical, inhumane, yet still a scapegoat?

An illegal abortionist and an OBGYN argue over their practices.

from For Women Only, Abortion (1969)
Creator: NBC
Distributor: Peabody Archive
Posted by Ethan Thompson
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