It’s 4am. Patient advocate, Jackie Casteel and I are sitting at the airport awaiting our flight to Washington DC. (A cup of coffee never tasted so good.)
It’s the eve of a Supreme Court hearing regarding abortion TRAP Laws, the single biggest abortion related case in over a decade in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt.
The past 24 hours have been filled with media interviews to raise awareness about this landmark case that could make the difference in a woman’s ability to get a safe and legal medical procedure. So, we thought it appropriate to share a story from before Roe v. Wade.
Dr. Harry Jonas shared some media spotlight with Jackie yesterday. He started his practice in the 1950’s, nearly two decades before Roe v. Wade. Dr. Jonas was still a resident when he encountered a patient that set a powerful tone for the rest of his career.
“She had 10 pregnancies. She was very poor. By the time she got to me, she was severely hemorrhaging and in shock and she told us that she was desperate because she had a husband that was gone most of the time and a troublemaker. And she could not raise another child. She could not feed another child. She had not been able to find any doctor that would help her. I’ll never forget that,” Dr. Jonas recalled.
The woman had attempted to self induce an abortion. She died that day.
You can still see it in Dr. Jonas’ eyes, the memory is quite vivid six decades later. Dr. Jonas went on to become a highly successful career as an OB/GYN – serving as President of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), Dean of UMKC Medical School, Assistant Vice President of the American Medical Association and a past Planned Parenthood provider. He’s remained outspoken for abortion rights because he says “many don’t realize just how close we are to going back to the days of back alley abortions”.
“I would argue, we are the pro-lifers. We are out there saving women’s lives, not ‘those people’,” Dr. Jonas said.
He’ll be 90 in December. Still sharp as a tack and uses every opportunity to encourage the next generation of advocates to keep passionately fighting for reproductive justice because turning back the clock is not an option.