Saturday, July 02, 2005

Unusually political post....

Fuck you, so-called "liberals".

Let me lay two things out for all of you right here and now.

1. Abortion is not a "devisive" or "minority" issue. It is a normative fact of women's lives. Forty percent of women under the age of 45 have had abortions. It is *routine* for women in this country to terminate pregnancies. It is a basic part of women's health care.

Whether or not you agree with whether a woman has an abortion is not the issue. This is the issue: Would you support criminalizing, in what's likely to be 21 or 22 states, a procedure that many women have during their lifetimes? Would you be willing to accept the morbidity and mortality that would certainly result from women too poor or too desperate to travel to a different state for a legal procedure?

Which brings me to the second point:

2. Criminalizing abortion criminalizes all aspects of pregnancy loss. If a woman in a non-choice state has a late miscarriage, chances are she will be quizzed prior to or during the delivery of services to determine whether or not she had help in ending the pregnancy. Those people who wish to help women terminate pregnancies safely will be prosecuted, and will likely lose whatever licenses they have. Those who don't care--the kitchen-table idiots--don't have anything to lose.

Consider for a moment what your life would be like if you, or your partner or wife, had a miscarriage and needed medical help. Would you be willing to have that pregnancy loss investigated as a possible crime?

Think it can't happen? One of the women I worked with at PP got into women's health after watching her first patient ever die. Of tetanus. From an illegal abortion. In 1980. She lived in a place where abortion services weren't available.

After the institution of parental consent laws in my home state several years ago, I saw two young women during my emergency department rotations, a year apart, who had both tried to self-abort. One is now sterile. Both were afraid to tell their parents.

I met a woman who, in 1968 in Texas, was denied emergency care during a hemorrhagic miscarriage until she provided the name of her abortionist. The fact that she hadn't *had* an abortion didn't matter to the cops. Her hematocrit got to 15 before a doctor intervened and saved her life. She ended up in the septic ward anyhow, and lost a kidney.

Probably things won't be as bad now as they were from the 1930's onward, when women had to go to literal back alleys to terminate pregnancies. The advent of cheap airfare and better medical technology, along with a generation of medical providers who grew up with legal abortion, will probably prevent too many horror stories. Probably there will be a new Jane Collective, dedicated to helping women get safe illegal abortions. Probably we won't see the return of septic wards, thanks to better antibiotics and better practice.

But I am not willing to rely on probably.

Edited to add this addendum, which I only just remembered:

Several years ago, I was cleaning out the cabinets at our local Planned Parenthood. I came across a file box full of index cards that had come from the women's health clinic that PP had taken over. On one of those cards was the name and phone number of a doctor who performed illegal and safe abortions in the town's only hospital prior to 1973. The police apparently gave him a pass, given that this is a liberal college city.

The doc was my mom's obstetrician. He would've delivered me back in 1970, but he was going under for an emergency root canal at the time. I asked Mom if she knew then that her doctor did illegal abortions. She said she knew. I asked why she chose him.

"Because I knew my life would be important to him, just as my pregnancy was important to him."

8 comments:

EmJC said...

Well said, Head Nurse. What a great story about your mother's OB.

marjorie said...

A very thought-provoking post. Thanks!

Kelly said...

Forty percent? Where do you get those stats?

Abortion is not a "devisive" or "minority" issue. It is a normative fact of women's lives. Forty percent of women under the age of 45 have had abortions. It is *routine* for women in this country to terminate pregnancies. It is a basic part of women's health care.

Well...Yes, it is devisive...whether you want it to be or not. I would really differ with you on the "routine" or "normative" part.

Jo said...

Kell--the stats come from the World Health Organization. Other sources put the number at anywhere from 47% to just over 30%, depending on how you crunch the numbers.

The CDC estimates that the rate of Caesarean delivery, by contrast, was 26.1 percent in 2003.

*That's* what I mean by "normative". We all know somebody who's had a C-section, right? Then why not recognize that, even if we don't talk about it, we all know somebody who's had an abortion?

Eliza said...

You rule.
That is all.

Third Degree Nurse said...

Jo,
My sentiments exactly. I applaud you for offering a valid, professional perspective.

Third Degree Nurse said...

By the way, Kelly, I hope you never get raped by some creepo who watches you through your window every day, as my friend in Texas did.

After she was raped in front of her roommate, the 2 bastards peeping tom rapists, proceeded to rape her roomie. It was then that my friend rallied and was seen by the neighbors running naked after the pair with a kitchen knife in her hand. They jumped her fence and got out of the yard, but the police caught them later.

She was impregnated as a result of the rape and thank God, had a legal, safe abortion. If some radicals in this country have their way, that wouldn't happen and she would have been forced to have the baby, deliver, and go through even more pain.

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