With birthdays come reflection, looking back and looking ahead. I have been blessed in many ways, but perhaps in none so much as this: the only time I’ve been pregnant, I wanted to be pregnant. I was emotionally and financially secure enough to welcome a child. As for my personal “beliefs” on abortion, I am what I call a pro-life pro-choicer. Personally, I find abortion horrific, and don’t think I could ever make that choice. But I also know that I have absolutely no right (or desire) to substitute my judgment for another woman’s – and that the State is even less qualified to do so.
As I said, I have been blessed never to face that choice. I know several women who’ve had abortions – who had been raped, who were very young, or who were simply not in any position to provide for a child. I also know women who made the other difficult choice – to have a child while still in their teens, or to give birth to child knowing that it had a genetic disorder which meant it would only live for a few days after birth. In every single case, the woman wrestled with her options, and what her choice would mean for herself, her partner, her family. None of them made their choices blithely.
In the current round of state-sponsored misogyny, several states have adopted or are considering “compulsory ultrasounds” for women seeking abortion. I am not going to address the obviously grotesque suggestion that women in their first trimester be forced to undergo “transvaginal” ultrasounds – Rachel Maddow and Garry Trudeau have said all that need be said on the subject – but I want to take a moment to question the basic premise of any ultrasound requirement. The politicians who advocate for it always defend ultrasounds as necessary for “informed consent,” as if a woman seeking an abortion just is too feeble-minded to understand her choice; as if doctors who provide abortions don’t have other means of ensuring that their clients understand the procedure fully without the State writing the script for them. Every woman I know who has grappled with this choice – whether she was a teenager or in her forties – understood intimately exactly what was involved in her specific case, in a way a room full of male legislators never can.
In reality, the Republicans see ultrasounds as a way of rubbing a woman’s face in her difficult decision, as if she were being a bad dog. Why not just require women seeking abortions to initial every page of an Anne Geddes’ calendar? Just as ineffective, almost as humiliating, and far, far cheaper!