Archive for the ‘Ultrasounds’ Category

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Personhood

October 25, 2012

I received a reader request (!) to address the hateful theology of Richard Mourdock. Praisewhore that I am, how could I say no?

Mourdock, of course, is the Republican Congressional Hopeful (and Tea Party Wingnut) who recently explained in a debate why he believes abortion should be illegal even in cases of rape: “And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.” The Onion already responded perfectly to the idea of a god so hateful he would will that women be raped to make babies to the Glory of His Name; I can’t do any better at addressing his twisted theology. But I can say this:

I haven’t seen the question Mourdock was asked, but even if he was specifically asked about his faith, this is the wrong answer. The right answer to that question is always, “While I  try to live my own life in accordance with my faith, I recognize that the First Amendment specifically prohibits me from making laws to impose my (weird, misogynistic, uncharitable) faith on the people I represent.” (See Biden, Joe, in the Veep Debate). It doesn’t matter how violent or rapey or baby-lovin’ Mourdock’s – or any politician’s – god is; that’s a moot point when you’re talking about policy. Any time a politician talks about what God ordains, the proper response is, “Fascinating – but what does that have to do with the Constitution and laws of the United States?” It’s right there in our Bill of Rights – no one gets to make their own God’s Law the law of the land.

Honestly, I’m stunned that Republicans haven’t realized they need to shut up about rape. The more they talk about rape, or abortion for that matter, the more I realize they simply have no empathy for the women involved. This first hit me during the bizarre conversation over requiring ultrasounds before an abortion. It occurred to me that the whole purpose of requiring an ultrasound was to try to force empathy from the woman – LOOK AT THE BABY! LISTEN TO HER HEARTBEAT! – as if she had no concept of what abortion is. As insulting as that was, it was even more jarring when I realized that the entire debate happened because these lawmakers have absolutely no comprehension of what this debate means to women. NONE. Exceptions for rape are the easy part. Republicans can’t even get this right, and they think we should trust them to handle the larger issue?

So Mr. Mourdock, Mr. Ryan, Mr. Akin, and all the other Republican Mr.’s out there, Right Honorable and otherwise, listen up:

Not everyone believes that a fertilized egg is a person. Not everyone believes that an implanted embryo has any rights, let alone the full rights of a person. Women – and their families – come in all different shades of faith or atheism, agnosticism or narcissism. Your faith and your god do not usurp that, cannot usurp that. But putting that all aside, even if we all agreed that an embryo is a person, that doesn’t end the discussion. Because you know who else is a person?

THE WOMAN.

Every time you open your fool mouths to talk about abortion, you completely fail to recognize this. The woman is a person, whose rights are every damn bit as sacred as the rights you want to grant the fetus. When a woman is raped, it is a fundamental violation of her person beyond anything the Santorums of this world can comprehend. If she gets pregnant as a result of that rape, that pregnancy is a continuation of that violation; her body is being used against her will. Even if we all agree that this will be the cutest, sweetest, most blessedest rape-baby ever, we have no right to ask that of the woman. Whatever rights you ascribe to the fetus, THERE’S A WOMAN, an honest-to-god fully-formed human being, involved too. Making the embryo a person doesn’t make the woman NOT a person, and if you cannot conceive of how wrong it would be to force a rape victim to continue to carry her rapist’s child, then there is something fundamentally broken in you – so broken that it should disqualify you from office.

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It’s my birthday! Let’s talk about abortion!

March 16, 2012

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!