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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7 comments:

  1. Hmmm, I think we'll have to agree to disagree on this one .... Mostly because I am of the opinion that the decision to have an abortion must be an incredibly difficult one to make. Sure there are some women who treat it lightly as a method of birth control but I think that is a tough decision for most women. Once a woman has gone through the myriad of emotions and reached a decision to terminate a pregancy to then "require" them to go through a painful transvaginal procedure and then make them question their decision once again seems punitive. Abortions have been happening with regular ultrasounds ... There is no need for a transvaginal exam in order to make them more successful (for lack of a better word .... Snce obviously abortion is never ideal)

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  2. i also don't think restricting access or making it harder to obtain an abortion does not make abortion go away .... All it does is increase unsafe, unclean back alley abortions. If one of my girls were in the unfortunate circumstance of an unwanted pregnancy and made the decision to terminate, I would want their decision to be respected and for them to have access to a facility. Of course prevention is the best remedy ..... But these personhood definitions threaten preventative methods such as birth control as well.

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  3. You give them a inch and they will take a mile. Starting down the personhood path will lead to things you don't like but it will be too late to turn back the clock. Your stance and your experience with this is a GOP wet dream. That's exactly the reaction they are hoping for. Don't even get me started on the "getting govt out of our lives" stance the GOP takes. This is "less" govt? No.

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  4. I believe that making the decision to abort is already an incredibly tough one. A decision a woman has to live with for the rest of her life. The what ifs and what would have been and could have been. Being forced to have this ultrasound that's not medically necessary would only serve the purpose of making the rest of a woman's life tougher. More guilt, more bad feelings. It wouldn't change the reasons why the woman chose to abort in the first place. I think the money should go into birth control, birth control, birth control, educate, educate, educate, birth control, birth control, birth control. Oh, you're pro life??? Then you should be pro birth control as well. It goes hand in hand. Don't want people to have abortions? Educate them on birth control. It's how you avoid those unwanted abortions. Make it cheap and readily available. Abortion is something nobody should ever have to deal with or take lightly, hence it's best avoided.

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  5. They don't want sex out of wedlock either, that's their issue.

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  6. It's come to my attention that there is also no exceptions in these laws for women who have to have a D&C due to a missed miscarriage. Imagine finding out that the baby that you very much wanted has died, but your body hasn't done it's job yet. So your doctor tells you to have a D&C. Then you must have ANOTHER u/s (which you have to pay for), be given a picture, wait while the nurse tries to find a heartbeat and then go home for 24 hours.

    These laws are not about "informed consent." They are about driving the cost up so women are less likely to have an abortion. Not only are there the new u/s laws, but many places have a 24 hour wait. It adds time and cost. Some states only have a couple of places that you can have an abortion. It means driving a long way home and coming back the next day or finding a hotel room for the night. If you're poor, this could make an abortion unattainable. Between the cost of the procedures and all that travel, it might make a woman resort to other, cheaper means. It's not informed consent at all.

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    Replies
    1. I certainly agree that there are MANY caveats which need to be included in such legislation.

      My concern is that abortion is frequently treated as a "reproductive right" as though it is a form of contraception. Every fiber of my being tells me this is wrong. Not in the "I'm going to judge you and be disgusted" way but in the "We need to make sure we've got all the information" way.

      To some extent I agree with the comments stating that making the decision to have an abortion is a difficult one, but I don't think that's always the case. I'm not sure most women give as much thought to abortion as they would to, say, giving the child up for adoption.

      Maybe the answer isn't trans-vag ultrasounds for all women seeking abortions. I just think that's the best solution I've heard.

      All I want is to stop making it a gender issue or a religious issue or even a political issue. Let's make it a moral issue, based on the morality within us all (religious or not). Is this a moral thing to do?

      And...educate. Educate! EDUCATE! Let's prevent unwanted pregnancies so it doesn't get to that point. (As stated by Anonymous)

      Thanks to all for the thoughtful and insightful comments. Keep the discussion going! That's the road to finding solutions.

      -Kim

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