Reply turned post, yes, I’m worried

I haven’t done a reply turned post in a while. I used to do them quite often, but my blog reader is currently burgeoning at over 1000 unread posts, and I don’t have time to read, much less post, on other sites, as evidenced by my lack of writing on my own blog. But, sometimes I get moved.

Juliaink wrote a wonderful post on Mothers in Medicine called “Anybody Worried?”, in which she says:

Choice about childbearing comes in many forms. In my own case, it was because I came through training at a time when professional women had trouble finding men who valued us–or maybe it was my evil temper. In any case, I married quite late and had my last child at age 39. This is not necessarily the path I recommend, but I do think that if we support women’s professional aspirations, we should be committed to the proposition that all women should have access to reproductive health services. If Congress prevails, many women who might otherwise make up the next generations of mothers in medicine are going to be instead mothers who lack education, income and the privilege of being able to care for others as well as their own children, in the ways we all do.

I was upset but not surprised by the comments that referred to termination of pregnancy as choosing to “end the life of a child”, and said “A child is a blessing and a privilege from the moment of conception. If you had a problem keeping your legs closed or your birth control method actually failed, it is not the child’s fault or problem – it is yours.”

Sigh.

Here are my two replies:

Reply #1, in response to “Kelley”, a mother and an aspiring physician, who kept an unplanned pregnancy and thinks an abortion is choosing to “end the life of a child” for convenience:

I object to calling terminating a pregnancy ending the life of a child. Neither my first trimester abortion nor my miscarriage was killing a living child, and I am not a murderer. 1/3 of women in this country have an abortion at some point in their reproductive years, and we really should watch the tone of our rhetoric. Calling 30% of women murderers is pretty harsh, and out of step with most of America’s attitudes toward abortion and miscarriage.

One of the leading causes of maternal death in the world is complications following illegal abortion. Most of these women were already mothers, and leave behind real living, breathing orphans who are four times more likely to die once their moms are dead. In these countries, where making abortion goes hand in hand with reducing access to contraception, just like it does here, abortion rates actually increase.

I am not sure what these other options are other than Planned Parenthood, especially with the same politicians trying to cut Title X funding for contraception in general, and wanting to cut social programs to pay for these children once they’re really alive. If we are talking about Crisis Pregnancy Centers, most do not provide any health care and are not run with any licensed health care workers. Only 2% of Planned Parenthood’s services involve termination of pregnancy, and they serve poor communities where unplanned pregnancies and STDs are more prevalent.

It’s all fine and dandy to sit in a privileged seat and call yourself pro-life, but there’s rhetoric and then there’s reality. Cutting funding to Planned Parenthood will increase unplanned pregnancy and abortion, and possibly maternal and child death in the long run.

Reply #2, in response to Ernest, who earnestly believes us sluts just have “a problem keeping our legs closed”, and it’s not the child’s fault, it’s ours. How surprising that Ernest, who is presumably male if I can make assumption based on his moniker, makes no mention of the man who pried those legs open as sharing in the blame responsibility. He thinks a “child” is a “blessing and a privilege” from the moment of conception, but doesn’t think any of these comments actually count as getting into a heated debate. Oh, and anyone who gets an abortion is a murderer. Period. But, he’s not getting into the debate or anything.

Saying a child is a blessing and a privilege from the moment of conception ignores the reality of the 50% of pregnancies in this country that are unplanned, the 30% of women who choose termination at some point, and the 50% or more of pregnancies (some say up to 80%) that spontaneously abort in the first trimester.

Villfying women who choose abortion as not being able to keep their legs together and only choosing abortion as a convenience is speaking from a very privileged viewpoint. The man who date raped me in high school did not give me the option of using birth control as I cried and said no to him. I have been in an abusive relationship, and it was hard enough to leave with the one child we had together that I decided to keep when I got pregnant, unplanned, while using contraception. If I got pregnant again, I might be still living with him with a new “blessing”, if I was forced to keep the baby. And before any lovely judgmental people say I shouldn’t have had sex with an abuser in the first place, most abusers don’t start abusing until their partner gets pregnant, and that is what happened with me. He seemed like a fine, upstanding member of society before that point.

Thank goodness I found a midwife who was willing to put in an IUD after the baby, after I was denied one by a physician because I was divorced when I first started the relationship with the abuser. (No I’m not kidding. This is why we need Planned Parenthood, and we need to step back from judging women for not having effective birth contol). Being judgmental has NO PLACE in medicine, especially not in reproductive issues.

Anyone who mistakenly thinks an embryo is a living child can personally choose to keep any unplanned pregnancy. But your rights end where mine begin. The only alternative is forced pregnancy. I believe children are far too sacred, important blessings to be forced on a woman because her rights were taken away by someone who will never, ever have to raise them and will probably vote for politicians who will defund health care and social services for them.

As others have said, I think bombing civilians is murder. I think capital punishment is murder. No one can argue that the victims of these acts are not living, breathing human beings instead of one inch long bundles of cells completely dependent on another human being who has to risk her life for them for the better part of a year. Save the philosophical conversations for church and around the dinner table. Otherwise, you be the physician in Nicaragua who has to stand there while a woman dies with a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, and tell her surviving orphaned children that well, technically, that embryo’s “life” was worth more than the convenience of them having a mother, and she should have just kept her legs together if she didn’t want to take that risk.

6 Comments

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6 responses to “Reply turned post, yes, I’m worried

  1. Just wanted to point out that when you say, “Only 2% of Planned Parenthood’s services involve termination of pregnancy,” that’s not really true… or at least, it’s an accounting trick. It comes down to the way that PP counts its “services.” They dispense a pack of birth control, that’s one service; they dispense 12 packs of birth control to the same woman, it’s 12 services. In short, they “unbundle” all the “family planning services” so that one woman’s visit may count as 12, 15, or 20 “services,” but keep all abortion procedures “bundled” as one, so that it only counts as one “service.” I wonder if they count each individual condom they hand out as a “service” and therefore equal to each abortion they perform.

    [I won’t be subscribing to comments, so won’t get any replies. Good luck with school.]

  2. WithWomanBirth

    Great post! Unfortunately, I think your arguments (as well as those of countless women, including mine) will fall on deaf ears the vast majority of the time. So much of the “pro-life” rhetoric is deeply seated in privilege and ignorance of the facts. I wish more people would go and spend a few weeks in understaffed, underfunded maternal health clinics in rural Sierra Leone, Mali, or Haiti so that they may see first hand that while children are indeed a blessing, the lives of women should never be carelessly jeopardized for the sake of ideology. When people stop focusing on the idea that an embryo/fetus = child = pure, potential chance for humanity’s redemption = more valuable than women, and start actually viewing women and girls as worthy of life, equality, and autonomy, then maybe the arguments can be based more on FACTS instead of ideology. I hope that happens in my lifetime because, yeah, I’m worried, too.

  3. emjaybee

    I’m going to respond to “Kathy” up there by saying, the actual percentage is irrelevant to me; I don’t care if 50% or 99% of PP’s care is abortions. A woman seeking an abortion is by definition, a woman who needs one. No person should be able to force another to go through the rigors and risks of pregnancy (much less parenthood), anymore than one person should be able to point a gun at another person’s head and force them to climb Mount Everest–even if doing so would, somehow, save an orphanage full of children.

    This is what reproductive choice is; the right to choose what risks and burdens you allow to be placed on your body and your life. And removing that choice from another human being is the height of arrogance and a profound violation of their human rights.

  4. Olivia

    I love your responses. I wish I could be so eloquent when I respond to anti-choicers, but I usually just end up spitting with contempt. My stance is Planned Parenthood helped me, you know, plan when I became a parent. PP also diagnosed and treated me for minor STDs and diagnosed/treated a friend for cervical cancer. Defunding title X will not save life, it may very well end it for many women.

    Kathy, I don’t know how an (1) abortion can be counted as more than one service. Twelve packs of pills is 12 individual packs, whereas one abortion is one abortion.

  5. Jayn

    The ‘children are a blessing’ line always burns me because blessings are inherently subjective. Some women do see children as a blessing and privilege–others see them as a curse and burden. I suspect a lot of women feel a bit of both, and neither view is wrong. What one person might see as being the best thing that ever happened to them, another person might see as a personal tragedy, and it is not up to us to try and correct either one of them. One of the worst things our society does is ignore the realities of others, especially where emotions are concerned, and that is a great source of hardship. We need to learn to listen to one another better.

  6. MomTFH

    I have been super, duper busy with my ob/gyn rotation. I just wanted to say thanks! to everyone for replying on this post.

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