This will be a long one…..
Ok, let me say it clearly right from the start…I have NO IDEA where I stand on this issue. After a week or so of digesting all the internet material on abortion I can find, I have to say that I am very, very, torn. Is it possible to be both pro-choice and pro-life?
This is what I know for sure…no matter how you slice it, abortion is ugly, and disturbing. While “pro-life” sites tend to describe the various methods used in abortion with the most heinous language possible, even the “pro-choice” and “neutral” sites I discovered had no choice but to describe the various methods used in almost equally gruesome terms. It seems there is just no ‘nice’ way to detail what happens during abortion procedures.
When I was talking with my husband (Shaun) about the gruesome nature of procedures such as D&E and D&X (better known as partial birth), he looked at me skeptically and said “you didn’t know this?” Honestly, what I knew of abortion was based in political jargon-I knew little to nothing about how the pregnancy was actually terminated.
MY PRO-CHOICE SIDE:
I feel strongly that partial birth abortion is wrong and should be out-lawed today. The first time I read that a baby (in the third trimester) is partially delivered, has scissors injected into it’s skull, and has its brains sucked out so that the skull could collapse, I thought it was a “pro-life” exaggeration and couldn’t possibly be true. But the more I read, the more this was confirmed by all sources. This to me is unbelievable!!!
All that having been said, however, the fact is that this heinous practice is a third trimester procedure, and over 90% of abortions take place during the first trimester. The first trimester lasts until week 12. At this point the fetus is unquestionably not able to live outside of the womb and is only about 2 inches in size. For some people this still constitutes a living, human being. I understand that. It does for me personally as well. But I must admit, when Shaun and I had our scare at around this same time, I was not nearly as upset about the prospect of losing the pregnancy as I would be at this point. As a matter of fact, when the doctor thought I had passed what he figured was “the product of conception” it didn’t look like anything more than a large clot of blood. I’m saying all this to say that a fetus at 12 weeks gestation is not the same in appearance and functionality as a fetus at 20 weeks, and so on.
Besides feeling that there is no actual harm done to a fetus at 12 weeks gestation (I read that a growing fetus does not possess the neurological development to experience pain until about 20 weeks gestation), the feminist in me also cannot wrap my mind around the idea that a man can impregnate a woman, and then bail out with no consequence while the woman has no recourse but to carry the child and shoulder the burden on her own. Nothing about this is equitable. I also still believe strongly that bringing a child into the world that you cannot care for may be doing them more harm than good. Not in all cases, of course, but in a good many of them. I see it every day in the faces of some of my most neglected students.
I think there is space for compromise on this issue. Many civilized European nations have very strict laws on legalized abortion. I think I could support similar legislation here in the United States. Many of these countries allow abortions only up to week 12. After that point, it must be a medical emergency in order to abort. I see this as a very reasonable half-way point between basic human decency and not infringing on an individual’s right to be in control of their own life and body.
MY PRO-LIFE SIDE:
The fact of the matter is that while I believe there is an agreed upon medium we could come to, we haven’t. Abortion laws as they stand in this country are some of the most unregulated in the world. I learned that many doctors ignore the restrictions put on late term abortions and perform them illegally with little to no oversight by any agency. I also learned that the requirement that late term abortions be performed only in the case of the pregnancy posing a serious health risk to the mother can be as vague as the mother being severely depressed. This to me is unacceptable!! It is unthinkable that a baby who at this point (late second and third trimester) could survive on its own outside the womb, and who now has the ability to experience pain, could have its brain sucked out and skull collapsed simply because the mother is depressed!!!!!
I previously thought that partial birth abortions had been made illegal. Instead I see that George Bush signed legislation in 2003 banning the practice, but because three different courts issued restraining orders on the enforcement of the ban, these types of abortions are still happening today.
And while I do believe that women should have the choice to abort up to a certain point, I do not support the idea that any woman can have as many abortions as they want. At some point it becomes a form of birth control instead of a one-time solution for a woman in a tough situation who has made a mistake.
All of this that I am saying (tighter regulation, restrictions on the term of the pregnancy, and on how many abortions a woman can have) is at this point hypothetical. As I stated, none of this represents our country’s actual policy on abortion. As such, I just don’t think I can support it. I cannot call myself “pro-choice” with the laws as they are.
There are circumstances under which I could support a woman’s right to choose, but these aren’t it. So am I ready to pick up my poster board and march before the Supreme Court in a picket line? No. I think there are more productive, less divisive ways to address the issue. Am I ready to call myself a “pro-lifer” and vote based only on this one issue? Absolutely not! I think this would be unintelligent and irresponsible.
So where do we go from here? Do we continue to argue about it amongst ourselves? What good has that done so far? Do we continue to point the finger and call women evil baby killers while doing nothing to assist them in making a different decision? I hope not. Do we focus so intensely on this issue at the expense of others that affect far more people than abortion does (poverty, slavery, child pornography and exploitation)? Who knows? Really, who the heck knows?
*The numbers and statements I make here come from such sources as Planned Parenthood and Georgia Right to Life. If there are other stats, or untruths in what I have stated, feel free to use the comments section to say so.