February 21, 2012

Abortion



I'm as liberal as they come. I will march in the streets for civil rights, subsidized healthcare (aka "socialized healthcare," the last of the great fear-mongering phrases), or just about anything other good old-fashioned bleeding heart cause.
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But not this one.

We have GOT to take a step back and remove religion and gender from the equation. This remains a hot-button topic after decades of debate because both sides are missing the point entirely: When does a fetus become a human being?

Should a woman have the right to change her mind about her pregnancy at 35 weeks? Pop out to the doctor and get an abortion? Of course not. At 35 weeks we're obviously dealing with an infant capable of independent life.

Hmm. Should that be the defining characteristic of "life"? Then after about 20 weeks we're getting into an uncomfortably gray area. That's only 1.3% of the total abortions performed, though, so what about the ≤20 weeks crowd?

An infant can survive outside the womb, pretty reliably, at 24 weeks gestation. Anyone who has been pregnant knows that one. 24 weeks is a sigh of relief when you *want* the baby.

Can we safely say, then, that an abortion after 24 weeks is not okay? So here's the question: when does it become okay? Is it a "blob of tissue" at 16 weeks? 10 weeks?

I lived in Alaska when I was pregnant with my daughter. The doctor did a routine ultrasound at 8 weeks gestation. My husband and I held hands while we gazed at the vaguely circular smudgy area amidst several other smudgy areas.

Because I was an older mom it was important to me that I have what they call a nuchal translucency test at 12 weeks. This screening determines if your child is likely to have Down Syndrome. If there is a genetic problem then you theoretically have time to "take care of it."

I had to fly to Seattle to get the test because they didn't perform it where I lived. I arrived at the hospital and was ushered into the ultrasound room. When the image showed up on the screen I was shocked. I said to myself "Self, sometime during the last four weeks that smudge started sucking its thumb." Much to the dismay of the total stranger performing the exam I began to cry.

I knew in that moment that there was no way I would ever "take care of" the pregnancy. If they had come back into the room and told me the child had no brain and six legs I would have carried her to term. There, on the screen, was my baby and I loved her with all that I was.

There has been much debate in Virginia about legislation requiring women seeking an abortion to get a trans-vaginal ultrasound. It has been called "state-sanctioned rape" because it's so "invasive."

Let me get this straight. Women, 100% of whom recently had their vagina "invaded" by a penis, and who are perfectly comfortable with a doctor scraping the inside of their uterus, are objecting to a medical professional showing them what they are about to remove? If I were having an organ removed I suspect I'd see that on a scan at some point. Why not a "blob of tissue"?

The vast majority of abortions are performed when the "blob" is too small to see with a traditional ultrasound, especially for overweight women. That's why they have to do the trans-vag.

If you have sex, with or without contraception, you are accepting the responsibility of possible pregnancy. At least have the nerve to handle it like an adult.

I'm not comfortable with anti-abortion legislation. There are an infinite number of reasons a woman may be seeking an abortion and I'm not willing to argue all of them. I'm not even willing to say that there's not a time when it's okay. But a law requiring women to be armed with information? What the hell is wrong with that?

Addenda 3/23/12: More on this topic Click Here.     
-Kim

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