What I’d like to do right now is update a post – rather, re-write a post – that I penned (typed) at the tender age of 19 going on 20. The feel of the post isn’t something that I think is suited to this blog anymore, and I think my views have changed since writing this. So here goes a circa 2012 re-write of the “Jane Doe Conundrum”.
The original essay/blog post (I like to think of these as “essays” because it makes me feel more intelligent, when in actuality it probably just makes me seem pretentious) started off on a very condescending and militant note. Phrases like “abortion is murder” and “your children may be as stupid as you are” came up, and I’m not proud of that. They don’t facilitate healthy discussion and debate. Chalk it up to dating a Republican at the time, or being raised Catholic, or what have you (not that there’s anything inherently wrong with either of those things – I know plenty of fantastic Republicans and Catholics, and I consider myself a centrist to be honest).
Basically, what I want to start out with is that I do believe life starts at conception, and I do think that birth control is morally sound and a fantastic way to prevent abortion from being used as a means of birth control. If you don’t have a plan for what happens if you get pregnant or contract an STD, then you aren’t responsible enough to be having sex. From a fundamental standpoint, I consider myself pro-life. From a political standpoint, I consider myself pro-choice, and I have for many years. And here’s why: last year, while spending time with an old acquaintance, one of her friends mentioned something that I found to be very profound. Roe v. Wade did not result in legalizing abortion because of any moral or political standpoint – it resulted in legalizing abortion because, simply put, it is more dangerous for a woman to be pregnant than it is for her to not be pregnant (this was what was told to me, although Wikipedia cites that “right to privacy” was the reason behind the ruling). Even in a first world country with (relative) access to healthcare, the business of being pregnant is still a very dangerous undertaking. Take, for example, an ectopic pregnancy. This is when the fetus is carried inside the fallopian tubes instead of inside the uterus. An abortion is always medically necessary in this case, because eventually the fallopian tubes will burst and both the mother and baby will die. Sometimes an ectopic pregnancy isn’t detected in time, and this is the unfortunate reality. There are only two cases I know of where a woman survived an ectopic pregnancy. One case took place recently in England (a country with universal health care – it’s unclear if this had taken place in another country if the family would have been able to afford this procedure otherwise), where a mother had an ectopic twin pregnancy. Through an emergency surgery that took place at – I believe it was 5 months pregnant – the woman delivered her twins and everyone survived. Another case was a woman in the 1950’s who lived in a third world country. She managed to carry her ectopic pregnancy to term, and while in labor witnessed another woman die while giving birth. Afraid of what might happen to her if she continued to labor, and distressed by a gut feeling, she stopped pushing and the baby never came out. It wasn’t until this woman was in her 80’s that a surgery was performed to remove the calcified fetus and she was finally able to grieve the loss of her child.
One of the major problems I foresee in the restriction or illegalization of abortion is the red tape that would ensue and the difficulty this would present in women obtaining abortions wherein there is a clear medical need for one. Recently in Ireland, an Indian woman died from blood poisoning that could have been prevented had she received an abortion for a fetus that she had already begun to miscarry. Despite the fact that the doctors were aware that her body was in the process of miscarrying the fetus, they refused to terminate the pregnancy because there was still a fetal heartbeat. Another thing that bothers me about abortion laws in the United States is the lack of freedom given to minors who become pregnant. They’re not given proper access to birth control, which ultimately leads to pregnancy, and in many states you need parents’ permission or even a judge’s permission for a minor to abort (or at least, that’s my understanding of the law). Having children at such a young age increases the risk of pregnancy and birth complications (although part of that is due to the lack of prenatal care that occurs when trying to keep a teen pregnancy secret, and not due to age). In my opinion, age is a valid medical reason to seek an abortion and I think the laws need to be changed to give more autonomy to minors.
The biggest problem I have with the pro-life movement is that nobody seems to want to adopt the unwanted children. I certainly support giving up children for adoption in cases where the mother’s life isn’t in danger, and I can take this stance because I plan on adopting children myself. If you aren’t willing to adopt children who would have otherwise been aborted, and if you aren’t willing to support laws and policies that aid young mothers in raising their children, then you shouldn’t take a pro-life stance. Life is not simply the life of a baby while it is being carried in the mother – life extends to the quality of life that a child is able to have. Overall, I think it’s important to note that bringing the rate of abortions down needs to be a cultural change and not a political one. Better sex education needs to happen, slut shaming needs to stop, adoption needs to become a more affordable and viable option for people, and people need to learn to respect the right to life of the mother, and not just her unborn child. Whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, or somewhere in between (as most Americans are), I think we can agree that nobody wants abortions to happen. Coming together to prevent them instead of making them illegal is something I think most people can get on board with.
Please note that any comments need to be civil and constructive. “Slinging shit”, as it were, will not be permitted.