Laying Down on the Job

Laying Down on the Job
The Santa Monica Easy

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Congress Should Abort H.R. 3962

Abortion is an extremely difficult, private and highly sensitive issue. To some it's an issue used as a political and religious rallying call for fundraising and a flash point for both the sincerest of believers and those who make a living spewing inflammatory rhetoric. This is not a simple black-or-white issue. Even those who've gone through an abortion do not all have the same opinion about whether a woman's right to choose should be governed by powerful lawmaking strangers or if a woman has the inalienable right to govern her own body.

First, despite what any man, religious leader, teacher, media mogul, doctor, social group, family member may say, this is, intrinsically, a woman's issue that must be faced at one of the most vulnerable moments in a woman's life. One might argue that regardless of the woman's situation, the choice is made under medical and/or emotional duress. Other's may be involved but until the day a male can get pregnant, pregnancy and all it's accompanying physical manifestations, conditions and complications are unique to women.  The only sacrifice a man makes to a pregnancy is a teaspoon of wriggly sperm bits. The woman's entire body is sacrificed to the effort of growing a baby. I love men, but for this topic: all men need to shut up and stay out of this issue.

According to a study of mortality rates in pregnant women, every minute across the planet a woman dies during labor or delivery. One abortion detail I've never heard thoroughly discussed is the medical necessity for abortion. All abortions are part of the medical discipline (except the egregious and illegal back alley abortions). Birth control pills and abortion pills (RU 486) -- both pharmaceuticals -- required extensive medical tests and trials as part of the Federal Drug Administration's approval protocols. Abortion is often necessary due to a condition unique to pregnant women called eclampsia where, among other causes, the fetus produces a protein that seriously endangers the mother's life. As of 2008, records show that worldwide, eclampsia is responsible for 12% of deaths in women during labor, delivery or post-delivery. Research also demonstrates that pre-eclampsia, the more dangerous variation of this condition, occurs in as many as 10% if all pregnancies. There's no sure way to predict who will be afflicted although there are some common factors. Eclampsia can occur as early as 20 weeks into pregnancy although it's more common to show up in the second or third trimester of pregnancy.   Even though this condition is as old as Eve, doctors still can only diagnose the condition and treat the symptoms (high blood pressure, blood clots, muscle aches, brain damage, pain, seizures and much more).  Despite that, virtually no significant funding campaign has been dedicated to eclampsia research so this hellacious condition can be prevention or cured. The only cure is for the mother to miscarry or give birth -- which often also kills the mother and/or the child. Other than that, the only other option a doctor has in order to save the mother's life is to remove the fetus via a surgical procedure -- which is an abortion.

With late term abortions outlawed, more women will die. I should say, more women have died because late term abortions have been outlawed. The incendiary prejudice against the procedure shamelessly spouted by religious leaders, "no-choice" groups, lawmakers and political pundits have done so at the cost of women's lives. What about those women? Don't they have any right to life when afflicted with a potentially life-threatening condition? The House health "care-less" bill, H.R. 3962 wants to exclude coverage for abortions. The bill would actually remove rights women have today. If that clause in the bill is not removed, women who are unlucky enough to be afflicted with eclampsia or pre-eclampsia will have to pay for the long term treatment and surgery out of pocket. So on top of enduring the agony of the condition, mourning the loss of a pregnancy, possibly a miscarriage or still birth, women must also cough up the tens of thousands of dollars for a procedure that saved her life.

Another potentially fatal condition during pregnancy is ectopic pregnancy where the fertilized egg imbeds in a Fallopian tube, the cervix, the abdomen, even in an ovary -- anywhere other than where it's supposed to be -- in the uterus. This happens with 1% of pregnancies. The mortality rate for a woman with an ectopic pregnancy is not as high as for a woman with pre-eclampsia or eclampsia. However, the mortality rate for the fetus is 100% because a fetus must be removed. Otherwise it will kill the mother. The removal of a fetus from the Fallopian tube is known as a tubal abortion. Another case where a condition exclusive to women -- pregnancy and all the associated medical complications -- is subject to exclusion in the House's version of the health "care-less" bill.

These are just two of the many complications and conditions unique to pregnancy, several of which require a form of abortion in order to prevent devastating or fatal harm to the mother.

The pro-choice position is to maintain the legality of a woman's right to choose what happens to her body in relation to pregnancy. The anti-abortionists want the legal rights of a fetus to trump those of the woman from whose body the growing fetus is nourished. Where is the equivalent law that trumps the rights of the male, from whose sperm the fetus is forming? The anti-abortionists want to give special legal privilege to both the fetus and the man involved in a pregnancy and remove a fundamental right from the woman who bears the fetus.

Making abortions illegal will not satisfy anti-abortionists. Some of the extremists in their crowd demand that birth control pills (not condoms) should be outlawed because birth control pills prevent sperm access to a ready egg (98% of the time). There will always be that next invasion of privacy and removal of rights over which to campaign.

Having listened to arguments on both sides of the abortion issue, it seems clear that the solution is to make abortions medically unnecessary not to just maintain the status quo or make abortions illegal or blow up abortion clinics and murder doctors while claiming to save babies. These medical conditions have killed women and babies since the first woman gave birth and are still killing our beloved women and babies. Awareness of these pregnancy-related medical conditions should be raised by both camps. Money should be raised to fund research that would cure or prevent all complications related to pregnancy. I would actually respect the "right-to-lifers" and take their message seriously if they made that effort. I would also respect anti-abortionists if they spent their collective energy manifesting an eternal fountain of wise and loving parents who would adopt, love and protect every child born from an unwanted pregnancy. Excluding abortions in the health "care-less" bill will not solve anything. It won't prevent women from needing and obtaining abortions. It won't prevent one abortion. It's likely to cause the death of more women than already die from pregnancy complications.  

Right now the anti-abortion language in H.R. 6920 occurs to me as a transparent manipulation to return women into their earlier second-class, servile chattel status.  It's not that surprising that it took 144 years after the Declaration of Independence for women to get the right to vote in this country's national elections.

But that's just my opinion -- and everybody's got one of those.

No comments:

Post a Comment