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Pro-choice hysteria

I saw Wendy Davis’s filibuster the other night and was ecstatic to see someone from the left, besides Hillary, actually forcefully defending a woman’s right to choose.  And then I witnessed all of the hysterical, emotional responses from the left blogosphere about just how incredibly awful it would be if we can’t get abortions at any point in time during a pregnancy, and despaired.

Both the right and the left seem to be hung up on something and it took me awhile to pin it down.  Here it is:

Pregnancy is a temporary condition. Motherhood is FOREVER.  

Neither side can get past the first part.  Pregnancy is temporary.  It has a finite duration.  There is definitely an endpoint and you pretty much know when that endpoint is coming so you can prepare for it in advance.

The right would like to extend that period indefinitely and insists that women become instant mothers from the moment of conception.  Women are supposed to love and feel nurturing feelings towards a temporary visitor.  Of course, that works for the right politically and economically on several levels.  Mostly, abortion is a political football and a defining issue for the right.  If the other side is for it, they’re agin it.  But they are agin it for economic reasons as well.  More women staying at home being mothers frees up more of the shrinking pie for the menfolk.  Amiright?  You know I am.  So all this romanticization of the fetus is designed to make mothers stay out of the workforce.  Let’s just be honest about that up front, OK?

The left seems to believe that pregnancy is forever.  It is not. It’s also not punitive or a death sentence.  It is what it is- a temporary condition, like many other temporary physical conditions. And no one can make you be a mother if you don’t want to be.  It is true that labor and delivery is painful, somewhat dangerous, time consuming and recovery can take awhile.  But putting your body through that pain and inconvenience does not make you a mother.  Sure, there are a lot of conservative assholes who would like to shame women for getting pregnant and if women are forced to endure shame for getting pregnant but not wanting to be mothers, that’s something we can definitely work on.  Think of it as a Gay Straight Alliance type activity.  If the state insists that women carry a pregnancy past the 20th week, it really should pick up the tab for that and forcefully prohibit employers from terminating employment of pregnant employees.  Where is that legislation?  Why aren’t women insisting on it?  Where is Wendy Davis when we need that kind of bill?

Don’t get me wrong.  I am strongly pro-choice.  I don’t think the state has an interest in what you do with your womb.  But I do kinda draw the line when the fetus is viable.  I’m not talking about when the fetus is compromised or has a genetic abnormality or when the woman’s health or life is in danger or in cases of rape or incest or when the person carrying the fetus is only a little girl or in cases where a previous legal abortion was unsuccessful. (let me see, have I covered all exceptions?  I think I have)  In those cases, I don’t have a problem with abortions extending beyond the 20th week.  And as for fetuses experiencing pain, I’d be very surprised if TEXAS can’t figure out a way of lethally injecting a human being without pain prior to removal from a uterus.  Please.  Governor Perry has done it 261 times.

BUT…

What one person may consider an unacceptable infringement of their time and persons may be a premature infant worth lifesaving measures to another.  At the point of viability, I have to apply my Good Samaritan test.  If I found a premature infant at 21 weeks gasping for breath at the side of the road, what would I do?  I think most of us would pick up that infant and rush it to the nearest neonatal intensive care unit.  I think I would have the same concern for the fetus who can survive on its own but is not yet gasping for breath.  The difference between an aborted fetus and a premature infant mandating special care is extremely thin at the age of viability.

For every infant, the dividing line between viability and non-viability is different and the call should probably go to a group of physicians.  The danger in that is that you might get a group of rightwing crackpots with an agenda.  But oddly enough, this is how they do it in some of the world’s most progressive countries and I’m assuming they’ve managed to avoid that scenario.  Sweden, for example, allows abortions only until the 18th week.  After that, you need to appeal to a panel of doctors who will make the call and they usually only do it in cases when the fetus or the woman carrying the fetus have some kind of health complication or abnormality.  Otherwise, I suppose, you’re denied an abortion and are back on that train until you reach your destination a few months later.

I don’t hear Swedish women or Norwegian women or Danish women screaming bloody murder or telling sob stories about how hard it is to carry a baby to term or whining that the state is not treating them as fully human simply because it makes them wait out a temporary condition and make some hard choices afterwards. Yes, adoption is a hard choice.  I’m not sure that it is a harder choice than aborting a fetus after 20 weeks though. Yes, they have a lot of social safety net options that we don’t, including socialized medicine.  Maybe we should focus on that instead.  Women who are forced to endure a temporary condition should be given all the support and medical services that women in Scandinavian countries get.  If they don’t want to continue on with motherhood, right wingers should be forced to stuff a sock in it.

But I don’t think there is any really good excuse for someone to wait until the 20th week to get an elective abortion.  Yep, I’ve heard that some ditzy women don’t know they’re pregnant until then.  For some reason, American women seem particularly prone to not knowing they’re pregnant until the fifth month.  The rest of the world seems to have gotten the memo but we haven’t.  I don’t hear any bloggers on the left attempting to explain that disparity.  There MUST be a good reason for why American women wait so fricking long to take a pregnancy test but no one has come forward to tell us why that is.

That’s not to say it doesn’t happen. It’s unfortunate but probably a lot more rare than we would like to admit.  I don’t know how those unfortunate who miss the deadline would react to a Good Samaritan test.  Probably not well.  But it is a temporary condition and if other countries have limits, especially countries with higher gender equality cultures, then imposing a 20 week viability test is probably not going to kill what little gender equality we have here in the US.

What WILL kill gender equality here is all the proscriptions and obstacles women face before that 20 week limit.  And I stand with Wendy on fighting that.  There’s no good reason why we are still living with bronze age tribal morality in the twentieth century.  That’s what is preventing women from being fully human and getting on with their lives after a temporary physical condition.

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26 Responses

  1. Wasn’t Hillary chastised for saying abortion should be safe legal and rare?

    The unthinking Obama-bots were told that meant she was pro-life and therefore not fit for the nomination.

    I have a theory why American women wait so long to confirm their pregnancy, they are taught sex is dirty and buying a test kit is an admission that so are they. They fear that the check out clerk will look down on them.

    In reporting on the pro/anti arguments why doesn’t the media make comparisons to how it’s handled in non-church dominated countries?

    Have they been told by their corporate masters (or their parish molester) to keep shut and not put single payer ideas in viewer’s heads?

    • Not sure the pregnancy test thing is what’s doing it but I could be wrong about that. Maybe it’s just that we have such a messed up country with bible belt nutcases making it harder for the rest of the country to evolve. But in a way, I can’t let the left off the hook on this one. I get it that some women genuinely do not know they’re pregnant until they deliver but let’s not let people off the hook for suspecting but not doing anything until it’s almost too late. I don’t think the left is requiring enough pro-active responsibility from women in this regard.

  2. Could it be that the women don’t “get pregnant,” but, rather, as the result of an ill-considered relationship that involved sex, they discover they’re not in a relationship at all, but are on their own, up a creek and s-l-o-w-l-y coming out of shock over sizing up a previous “choice” to have sex with a, now questionable-not-so-partnery-partner proving that temporary means “disposable” and if the woman is disposable from the male’s perspective,then shouldn’t his progeny be as well? Keep in mind that a leading cause of death in pregnant women is the murderous FOB.

    • Friends of Bill? Why does Clinton get blamed for this?? (JK)

      I don’t know if it’s a bad relationship gone bad situation or not but I’m beginning to think having a firmer deadline might be good for women. You’ll know a lot sooner who is going to stick around.

  3. I like the temporary condition idea. The viability thing never impressed me much because that would imply induced labor or something, and that’s not really an alternative to abortion at 20 weeks. Definitely something to think about.

    I continue to be stumped by the people who would keep Plan B and other methods of emergency pregnancy control difficult and hard to access. Children deserved to be loved and cherished. They shouldn’t be a anyones punishment.

    • All I’m suggesting is that other civilized nations are not ripping themselves to pieces over abortion. In some countries with much better gender equity scores, the abortion cut off is much more stringent than ours. We need to find out how they do it because this unending battle is pointless and destructive and the right wingers will never ever win it.

  4. Unsubscribe me

  5. I too believe there has to be a cut off point. Having worked in an OB clinic and seen so many repeat customers who not only don’t get the memo on birth control but wait until the absolute last second to have the procedure, it completely sickened me. What I saw, most of the time in my opinion, was complete lack of care and total laziness. These women knew they had the option up until a specific point and simply couldn’t be bothered with the “decision” until the last minute.

    I understand nothing is completely fool proof and a woman should not have to pay her entire life for a momentary lapse of good sense. But going to an abortion clinic 3,4,5 times all within a week of the legal limit is disgusting. No wonder pro lifers get so worked up about it…I believe in a woman’s right to choose and this makes me angry as well.

  6. Thank you. Those of us who agree with this point of view are a larger group than people at either end of the spectrum. Maybe more of us than all of them combined. If we would just talk to each other instead of dismissing each other because our views on other things differ, we could get this done. Take away the sword of Damocles every 4 years so we could move onto other issues that affect us all.

    • Except there are some people on the right who will never give up on outlawing abortion completely. With those people, negotiation is not possible and there is no middle ground.

      • Hell, they didn’t want to give up slavery either.

        • Not a happy reference. With a population of just 37 million, the US suffered 626,000 dead soldiers from the Civil War, more than 10 times the number from Vietnam and considerably more than in World War II.

          Abortion exists as a permanent issue because Republicans can’t get enough voters to be competitive on their economic platform so they sell out to the religious right. If banned, there would be no reason for working class southerners and midwesterners to vote for the people oppressing them economically.

          We currently recognize pregnancy as a temporary disability when it comes to work. The family and medical Leave Act also confers a similar status.The problem is that the economic conservatives have no interest in conferring living wages and the religious right does not seem to care.

          Maybe 30 or 40 years ago, a man named Henry Howell was Lt. Governor of Virginia. Howell described himself as a “southern liberal” and said he believed in “life after birth.” the obvious, unstated, reference was that every southerner believed in “life after death” but the right didn’t care about what happened between birth and death. They still don’t.

          • Yep. That’s why I gotta wonder why it is that pro-choice Democrats aren’t pushing for full medical insurance and social services support for women who are forced to carry to term. I can’t imagine any bible thumper who wouldn’t support that. Women who do not want to become mothers who are just over the 20 week limit should be treated exceptionally well and get all the pre and post natal care the state can provide. Their jobs should be protected and any argument AGAINST those remedies would expose the right’s true agenda. It’s not even parenthood for adoptive parents. Abortion is just a political missile to them.

      • And there are some people on the left who won’t agree to any restrictions on abortion whatsoever. With those people, negotiation is also not possible and there is no middle ground. The unwillingness to negotiate is not restricted to the right. See Lauren Coodley above.

        But those of us who support some abortion but not wholesale abortion really do outnumber them. You just have to ignore both ends of the spectrum and not worry about them. But if you won’t talk to me, someone who is more conservative than you are but in complete agreement with you on the abortion issue, we will be political slaves to our uteri and abused by the politicians on other issues that we also might very well agree on. My “choice” is that abortion be limited to the first 18-20 weeks except in cases where the health of the mother or the baby is an issue with pregnancy support for the mother if she misses the window of opportunity for having an abortion. I believe that meshes with what you want, yes? The difference between us is that if I can’t have those restrictions, I would choose not to have abortion legal, and correct me if I’m wrong, but you’d rather have late term abortions legal rather than have no legal abortions. Which at first glance makes us opponents, but we really aren’t. We are in complete agreement as long as we both get our way. But we spend so much time demonizing each other for coming at this issue from different directions that we don’t recognize we actually want exactly the same thing. And there are many more of us than them if we just seek each other out instead of calling each other names.

  7. Well-reasoned. I’d say I have been at your point of view for a while, as is my B.S.N. wife. But I also get a lot more flack for it– from both the Left and the Right– than she does. I may not get pregnant but I came from one and I do have an opinion and a vote. SOS Clinton’s statement perfectly encapsulates that sentiment, I believe.

  8. Aren’t there states like N. Dakota and Mississippi that have one or two clinics that provide abortions and, then only, if you’ve spent the first day, there listening for a fetal heatbeat and getting molested (vaginal probe)?
    Maybe, women would get earlier abortions if it wasn’t so damned hard to book an appointment.
    It’s fine for abortions to be rare, as long as it’s because women of all relevant ages have access to cheap, effective birth control.
    Me? I had an abortion so early, it was called a “menstrual extraction” but that was in the late seventies in NYC and I was treated like a patient, not a deviant or a criminal.

    • And THERE is probably one of the places where you’ve hit on that doesn’t make us Sweden. Sweden has a universal health care system. The US does not.

  9. Thank you RD for bringing the egregious hypocrisy of the Texas GOP and our rulers at large.
    *Life is sacred but its right for the state to execute hundreds of men and women, some of whom are innocent.
    *Government should be limited, except when it comes to regulating the private moral and sexual lives of citizens.
    *Abortion is evil, but homeless, hungry children are simply unavoidable; millions of uninsured are acceptable, but people dying from poverty or inadequate access to healthcare and education is just their own fault.
    *Profiling and wrongful conviction due to racial prejudice is “justice”.
    *They are christian but idolize war, guns and the NRA, even though Jesus of Nazareth taught peace and non violence.
    *They love their grandchildren, but is their prerogative to plunder and destroy the Earth.

  10. And then, the State of Texas -GOP- does not want to fund Parenthood Planning?
    WTF??? Hypocrites!

    • It cost them 2.5 times what that funding would have been in unplanned pregnancies. ($250,000,000) I hear the brain trust in Texas was working on trying to figure out how to fix that. Whoopsie.

      I wonder if anyone is going to share with them that their 20 week moratorium is going to force more women carrying a fetus with birth defects to end up giving birth. Ultrasounds to ensure the fetus is growing properly usually are not effective before the 11-14 week window and they usually want to repeat it between 16-18 weeks. Amnios are usually done between 14-18 weeks with the results not coming back for a week or two. With this being the case you are talking about an extremely small window to make plans, obtain funding and deal with things at a time where you are probably overwhelmed with emotions.

      Here’s to hoping they have plenty of money for oxygen, whellchairs, special needs teachers, assisted living facilities and everything else in Texas. A healthy child is not unexpensive, one with special needs is going to have additional costs way beyond that though.

      • It won’t. The reality is that Republicans don’t consider pregnancy a permanent condition. It ends at birth. At that point, yeeeer on yer own.

  11. Texas appears to be full of idiots though. I don’t exactly see them doing anything about the fact that 1.2 million children already living and breathing don’t have access to health care in Texas or that Texas has the highest child abuse and neglect fatality numbers in the country.

    If you are going to force people to have children then you ought to at least care about how those children are going to be raised. The path to happy and productive adult is a precarious one if you are growing up in a household where your basic needs won’t be met because there’s poverty and dysfunction standing in your way. Shame on Texas for putting the cart before the horse.

  12. “If I found a premature infant at 21 weeks gasping for breath at the side of the road, what would I do? ” The difference is that the fetus/infant is not at the side of the road. It is inside another person’s body.You can make a moral/ethical statement about getting an abortion at that stage for no good reason, and I will agree with you. However, giving the state control over that decision, over balancing the bodily integrity of the woman against the life/pain of the fetus? That’s the stuff of human rights violations. And most people are able to recognize that when it comes to the state forcing people to donate blood, bone marrow, body parts to save lives. But only women get pregnant.

    So, here’s the question. If you found a premature infant at 21 weeks gasping for breath at the side of the road, would you donate blood (or whatever else) is needed to save its life? Probably yes. That is the ethical thing to do. Should you be legally forced to?

    • Sorry, I just disagree with you. When the fetus reaches the age where it can survive outside the body with some medical support, that’s not different than the same things we do for very premature infants.
      Women have five months to make a decision. Up to five months, there should be no restrictions on abortion. But once that five month point is reached, an abortion, to me, is not a whole lot different than abandoning an infant to the wild. Show me a state that allows you to abandon an infant like they used to centuries ago. There isn’t one because we consider it inhumane.
      Apparently, this is how some of the world’s most progressive countries see it as well.
      One thing abortion activists seem to have gotten totally wrong is that abortion equals gender equality. It does not. If anything, Roe prematurely terminated the struggle for equal rights in this country because once we got abortion, the activists went home and the right wing noise machine revved up. We did NOTHING on equality and now we are paying for it because everything seems to hinge on this one supreme court ruling. It’s not even that secure as a ruling. There are already 5 votes on the court to overturn it. They could do it at any point and there’s not a damn thing Obama could (or seems to want to) do about it.
      Yielding on the 5 month viability test will do nothing to placate the old, grouchy, vindictive, selfish, jealous conservative women who romanticize the fetus. But at some point, the lefties start sounding completely out of their minds when it comes to abortion. Where do you draw the line? Is elective abortion at 7 months ok? Then it just starts to feel barbaric. For some of us, 20 weeks is already starting to feel over the line.

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