Thursday, April 19, 2007

But what about...

the mother's health? What if her life is in danger? I am not crazy about abortion, but I feel it should be safe, legal, and rare. And that it should be an issue for the mother and her partner and her doctor only, not the government.

Of course abortion is a tragedy, for both fetus and parents. It is a matter of huge sorrow and loss, no matter what the reason. Women who have aborted carry that sorrow all their lives. Making the decision is agonizing and always a matter of second-guessing the future.

It seems to me that both pro-life and pro-choice advocates have the same hope in mind-----that all children will be treasured and cared for and that pregnant women are joyfully pregnant, not pregnant because of incest, rape, fear or ignorance.

To achieve this outcome, it seems to me that we must educate both sexes adequately about birth control, whether the preference is for natural methods such as rhythm or medical methods such as contraception. We must end incest and rape. We must teach both sexes to respect their bodies and their sexuality, to say "no" when the time is not right, to not take advantage of a person sexually, to delay sexual activity until they are mature enough to handle the consequences.

Ignorance and fear are a major part of the problem. Let's see what we can do to change that, rather than screaming at each other about the politics.

21 comments:

Joel said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joel said...

That deleted comment wasn't something I wanted to retract; I had accidentally typed my password into the wrong box and didn't want to leave it there. :)

The PBA ban does include an exception for anger to the mother's life.

Joel said...

Ack! I need to trade in my typing fingers! An exception for DANGER to the mother's life.

Mile High Pixie said...

Hear, hear, Ms. Kitty. I have a hard time listening to some pro-life folks because of their resistance to *preventing* abortion. It becomes safe, legal, and rare when we provide in every way to prevent unwanted pregnancy, which includes the un-stigmatization of sex and birth control.

The problem, as I've experienced it, is not abortion. It's everything leading up to it. It's the culture.

LinguistFriend said...

I do not believe that these issues have much to do with the ethics of abortion, on which I am largely in agreement with you. It is, I believe, simply an attempt to draw the authority of the Supreme Court into a ploy of using divisive issues (such as abortion) to pull religious conservatives into an election on the side of those who claim to be with them on this issue. That is no surprise. What is new and hopeful is that many of the religious groups who have been so manipulated in the recent past have realized that there are many other (and many more important) issues at stake in today's politics, such as the Constitution and global warming. I hope that awareness will continue for the future.
LinguistFriend

Joel said...

It is, I believe, simply an attempt to draw the authority of the Supreme Court into a ploy of using divisive issues (such as abortion) to pull religious conservatives into an election on the side of those who claim to be with them on this issue. That is no surprise. What is new and hopeful is that many of the religious groups who have been so manipulated in the recent past have realized that there are many other (and many more important) issues at stake in today's politics...

I didn't want to get into this too far (and I may regret this), but I have to ask. I want to stress that I do so respectfully, not for the sake of riling anybody.

LinguistFriend, do you think that the only reason that religiously conservative people could consider abortion objectively (and universally) wrong is that they have been manipulated to do so? Is there no rational way in which rational people could reach that conclusion? That appears to be the assumption you're starting from here.

Chalicechick said...

hmFWIW, there is no exception to protect the mothers health or to reduce the RISK of dying.

Ever seen "Steel Magnolias," where a lady with severe type 1 diabetes has a baby* and having the baby weakens her kidneys enough that she dies when the kid is a toddler?

I can't see that she would be allowed the exception, going on the text of the bill as passed.

After all, having the baby didn't kill her. It put a lot of strain on her kidneys and kidney failure two years later killed her.

I think rational people can be against abortion.

I think a rational person could even, quite rationally, come to the conclusion that if a woman with health problems is irresponsible enough to get knocked up, perhaps her baby deserves to live more than she does.

But a lot of positions that can be rationally defended are still wrong.

CC


*Admittedly in this case a wanted baby.

Chalicechick said...

Here's a better link.


CC

Christina Martin said...

In the Steel Magnolias case, a partial birth abortion would not have helped her kidneys. This procedure is only done on full term or nearly full term babies; by carrying a baby for 6-9 months before aborting, she would already have had the kidney damage. It's the pregnancy, not the live birth, that works the kidneys.

Joel said...

I think a rational person could even, quite rationally, come to the conclusion that if a woman with health problems is irresponsible enough to get knocked up, perhaps her baby deserves to live more than she does.

Chalicechick, you strike me as reasonable enough to recognize a straw man when you see it. Believing abortion is wrong has nothing to do with a value judgment about a woman becoming pregnant, let alone punishing her for it.

Misfortunes happen to all of us. We all have problems, and oftentimes, killing somebody would solve them. (I can think of a couple off the top of my head; I'm sure you can too.) But we don't do that, because it's understood that that's simply wrong. We either find a solution that doesn't involve murdering anyone, or we live with the problem.

I'm the last person to be passing judgment on an unintentionally pregnant woman. Two of my kids are "Oopses," and one has been used against me as a weapon all his life. But although pushing his mother in front of a bus, for example, would solve many of my problems (and probably his), it's just not an option. It's illegal, and it should be. That's not something a civilized society tolerates.

ms. kitty said...

You can read the whole post at Rev. Debra Haffner's blog "Sexuality and Religion", but here's an excerpt which touches on the need for protection of the woman.


"When I heard the news, I did not move to my usual stance of policy concern. I thought first about December 23, 1998 while Brian, my husband and I waited for Jacob to be born after "induced labor". He had not formed necessary parts of his urinary tract in the 20 weeks of pregnancy thus far. After numerous medical tests putting his and my life in danger - all for the possibility of saving him. It was conclusive that his kidneys had failed and his lungs would never develop - he could never function outside of my body. Our choice to induce labor was medically and politically defined as abortion.

The Supreme Court ruling, if in effect when we had Jacob, would have prevented us from inducing labor. We would have had to wait until he "died" (as in no more heartbeat sustained only by my body serving as a life support machine)- making me carry him potentially to term and putting my health at risk. People don't think about cases like ours when they hear second trimester abortion ban. They just think about "reckless young women" who don't want their babies (don't get me started on issues of class, access, and sexuality education).

Consider the emotional stress and possible life threatening consequences of facing each day not knowing what would happen to Jacob or me as we waited. And pro-life folks say what about the pain of the fetus, IF that is a potential of in utero nervous system development - I can't imagine suffering through days, weeks or months, with no funtioning kidneys, shrunk space, bloated belly, and possible toxicity unknown for days in between check-ups. After he would have "died" - they would have done a D&C to remove him and we never would have had the opportunity to meet him, take pictures, and hold him as a whole-loved son. He would have been in pieces and treated as waste.

Makes me think that folks who stand in one extreme corner or the other do not have a deep enough experience of the complexity of "honoring life."..

In honor of Jacob - I felt compelled to not sit silent today."

ms. kitty said...

I also want to say that I appreciate the measured tone of this conversation. It is far too important to understand each other to let ourselves rage at each other.

Chalicechick said...

Not to belabor the point, but missing periods is a symptom of diabetes. Women who are used to missing periods tend to notice their pregnancies later.

Partial birth abortion was often done to women in their second trimester.

And the kidneys were just one example. But I think you see my general point that the law only allows for abortion if the baby might kill the mother immediately.

Joel, I'm not seeing how this is a straw man. The law you're so happy about as written says that if a sickly woman should accidentally get pregnant and for whatever reason not be able to have an abortion until the second trimester, she must carry the baby to term unless she can prove it directly endangers her life.

If say, having a baby would mean that she would have to go on dialysis, but that she would live, for example, she has to carry it to term.

If the fetus has severe hydrocephalus, is in constant pain and has a brain that will never develop, the mother must have what amounts to a giant ceaserian section, endagering her health to "save" something in constant pain that likely won't live anyway.

Lawmakers could have written the law differently, using language about "endangering the health of the mother." They chose not to. They chose to make the condition "endangering the life."

Given that, I don't see why my example is unreasonable. That the fetus' life is more important than the mother's health seems to be the point.

CC

Joel said...

ChaliceChick, I didn't mean to sound snide about the "straw man." I HAVE seen that phrasing used as one in the past, but I didn't think you were doing it intentionally.

That the fetus' life is more important than the mother's health seems to be the point.

I'm not so sure that's a bad thing. Your life is more important than my health.

That's especially true because "health" is such a vague term. Would you die to save another from, say, a hangnail? Probably not. Would you die to save another from kidney damage? Possibly, if you're a really generous person. How about from emotional strain? All of those are health problems, and if "health" isn't defined, it can be whatever a woman or her doctor want it to be. (Humpty Dumpty was right about that.)

However, in the case of PBA, it's hard for me (a layman, true) to imagine a scenario in which it would be so necessary as to justify allowing the child to be partially born and then killing it. To save the woman's life, yes; it's extreme but understandable. But not for less than that.

The purpose behind fighting the ban, as far as I can see, was strictly a political one. The intent was to gain a "buffer ground" for the abortion industry. If we couldn't even restrict a very rare and unusually barbaric kind of abortion, then obviously we can't slow down the more common kind in the slightest. That, in turn, means that there is no possibility of lessening the profits being made on abortion. It's all about the dollars.

Anonymous said...

Joel,

I think it gets down to the fact that most thinking individuals have strong beliefs about this issue based on fact, feelings, faith, dogma, scientific evidence and personal experience. Thus, each viewpoint is sacred and individual. This is why I passionately believe in the separation of church and state. The best person to make a decision about an abortion is the one carrying the fetus with input from a loving partner if she is in a loving, stable relationship.

It's quite a paradox that the this country bombs the hell out of women and children in Iraq, Afaganistan, etc. and wants control over the bodies of its female citizens. Why? Perhaps the US leadership wants to make sure that American women must produce children to staff its military. I wish all women would "just say no" to pregnancy for two years. And that those pro-choicers wanting children would adopt one or more of the very plentiful children available in this country. (Ah, but there we go again with more bureacratic red tape.)
I pledge to work to keep the US government and Supreme Court out of my body and the bodies of my sisters.

Regular reader in Portand

Joel said...

I wish all women would "just say no" to pregnancy for two years

LOL! You're telling this to a guy with seven kids. (Hey, somebody's got to produce the future tax base.) :)

However, I think I'd better lay off the subject. I think Ms. Kitty's wondering how long it'll be before she has to delete me.

Christina Martin said...

We make so many sad assumptions about unborn offspring (which is the literal meaning of fetus, by the way).

I knew a woman whose unborn child had been diagnosed as anencephalic -- no brain. She did not abort, though even at that time (in the 60's) there are places where she could have. She had the baby, and it turned out he was not anencephalic, but hydrocephalic. The prognosis was that he would be retarded and probably a vegetable. The mom didn't give up on him, but had a shunt inserted to drain the excess fluid. He had to keep the shunt for years. Many people have said he would be better off dead.

Well, today he is in his 40's and is a high level genius. The original diagnosis was wrong... the second diagnosis was correct but the prognosis was not just wrong but emphatically so.

And despite all the voices who have said he'd be better off aborted, he is happy to be alive.

LinguistFriend said...

In response to Joel, I did not suggest that the manipulation I mentioned was the reason that, or point at which, religious conservatives have formed an opinion against abortion. An anti-abortion stance may come rationally from some religious beliefs. Its prior existence is necessary for such tactics to succeed, in fact. [I hate abortion myself, I just think that in some cases it is the best of bad solutions available for a terrible problem.] The manipulation I mentioned was used to create an ethical/political atmosphere in which only one issue was considered. However, the neglect of other issues could be catastrophic. Abortion does not matter if we are all dead, or our lives hopelessly disrupted (e.g. from global warming).
I am very much aware that it is possible to reach an anti-abortion view rationally based on some religious views. However, we might momentarily consider a stance in regard to abortion as observed in the world as comparable to a theory which accounts for a certain set of facts. I recall one of my teachers, the logician Willard Quine, who pointed out that there are always a number of possible theories which account for a given set of facts. That is also true of ethical formulations, which are based partly on observation of the world and partly on traditional wisdom. They are not the only ethics possible based on the same set of facts and traditions, and they are not always applicable in all spheres. The non-violence of Gandhi and Jesus, for instance, cannot cope with a Hitler.
LinguistFriend

Joel said...

In response to Joel, I did not suggest that the manipulation I mentioned was the reason that, or point at which, religious conservatives have formed an opinion against abortion.

Fair enough, LF. I apologize for misconstruing what you said.

I should say that my own reasons aren't religious ones. Many others' reasons are, though, and opinion does tend to divide along religious lines. Given that, your words were quite reasonable.

The non-violence of Gandhi and Jesus, for instance, cannot cope with a Hitler.

That gave me a chuckle, simply because it's so true. I seem to recall that Gandhi said once that the Jews should be grateful to die in the camps, simply to show the power of non-violence. Goes to show that even a great man can be as asinine as anybody else. (Oddly enough, that's a pearl of wisdom from him that doesn't seem to get quoted much.):)

kim said...

What is a non-religious argument against letting a woman decide for herself whether an abortion is appropriate? they all seem to be religious.
Since not all religions agree, then adopting one stance is favoring one religion over another, which is unconstitutional.
Wouldn't it be better if religions just forbade the members of their own religion from doing what they believe is wrong? and leave the government to be neutral.

Joel said...

What is a non-religious argument against letting a woman decide for herself whether an abortion is appropriate?

Maybe you missed it, Kim, but I did link my explanation above in my response to LinguistFriend.