I grew up in England. In 1967, when I was 19, the U.K. legalized abortion with an act that has been similar in impact to the 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling in the USA.

I am old enough to have known several young women who had illegal abortions prior to the passage of the 1967 law. If you have not witnessed it firsthand, you cannot truly imagine the anguish underlying these decisions, the anxiety and fear that accompanies the furtive trip to an illegal clinic, the pain of the hasty surgery, the subsequent intense pain as the bloody patient is pushed out the door at best a few hours after the procedure, and the difficult recovery in secrecy without a medical support structure and reliant solely on close friends.

We have a vocal minority in this country that is intent on returning us to the dark days of back-street abortions. We have a president who has pledged to only select Supreme Court justices who will take us there. We have a candidate for the Supreme Court who, when questioned on Roe v. Wade, has made the more-or-less meaningless pledge that he will respect “settled law.” We have a senator who appears to be looking for a fig leaf that will justify, in her mind at least, a vote for this candidate.

For the sake of all those young women who will be irreparably harmed if the right to a safe and legal abortion is rescinded, Sen. Susan Collins needs to find the courage to defend her convictions. If Brett Kavanaugh will not make a cast-iron commitment to uphold Roe v. Wade, and to protect a woman’s right to control her own body, she must not hesitate to vote “no” on his nomination.

Nigel Calder


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