Monday, January 21, 2008

Why It's Important to Vote Pro Choice

NARAL is celebrating the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade by asking bloggers to write about why it's important to vote pro choice. This is one of those topics that is so broad that I'm actually having a fairly hard time saying anything that isn't blah, blah, blah on it. It would be like asking the devout to write about why religion is good. Or making Ms. Pac Man explain why she eats the dots. Duh. What's to be said?

Of course, many people out there obviously don't think it is important to vote pro choice. Every single viable GOP presidential candidate right now is officially antichoice. So, I'm going to talk about the small little corner of pro-choicedom that I know very personally, which is termination for medical reasons.

I'm addressing this to all those married, middle-class, suburban, thirty-something Americans who routinely vote Republican because they don't think the abortion issue has anything to do with them. Please, start making this a priority in your voting. I'm appealing to your self interest now, because if abortions are restricted further, you are likely the first people that bans will impact directly. That's because abortion rights are getting chipped away in the second trimester before the first. And contrary to popular belief, the woman who ends a pregnancy in the second trimester isn't a callous bubblehead who forgot to schedule the appointment at the clinic for five whole months. Women who get second-trimester abortions are often married, middle class, suburban, thirty-something mothers who loved the unborn baby they aborted. I am the face of second-trimester abortion. And that means you potentially are, too. This is happening to women with wanted, planned pregnancies all the time.

Wait, you say I'm wrong -- you'd never have an abortion under any circumstances? You say you'd keep your baby, no matter what?

That sentiment is sweet, but also a trifle smug. Oh, the viscous, brutal things that can happen during a pregnancy. Things that no prenatal vitamin is mighty enough to thwart. Unfixable, misery-inducing predicaments for babies. Some of these afflictions are fatal, some not. Many in both categories are entirely devastating, for both the baby and his or her entire family.

Do you know the details of any of these potential problems? I'm guessing not. I didn't either until my unborn baby was diagnosed with one of them. And that's when I discovered that what can sound so correct on a bumper sticker might feel wrong when it comes to your actual child. I'm not saying all will want to have an abortion under my circumstances ... just that you will truly not know what you might do until faced with a real scenario. When staring down a poor prenatal diagnosis, all the easy rhetoric falls away. And wouldn't it be terrible to discover, too late, that abortion was an issue that impacted you directly after all, but was now completely off the table because you voted for people who didn't respect your right to make a choice?

I think that the pro choice agenda is, in many ways, a victim of our wealth and success in America. We live in a magical bubble of comfort and luxury where most of the time, people are healthy and things turn out alright. That kind of prosperity is great in a myriad of ways, but has one big ironic drawback: when people don't experience serious hardships on a regular basis, that can lead to a colossal failure of empathy and imagination among citizens. Many people out there simply cannot understand the challenges facing those who are not lucky or healthy in life. Under these circumstances, it's much easier to buy into the antichoice assertion that anyone who aborts must be completely different, both inside and out, than they are.

Don't buy into that argument. Remember that a pro choice vote is many things to many different people. For you, it is the way to protect your parental rights so you can make a full range of decisions if your wanted pregnancy goes disastrously wrong. So vote pro choice. Not because you want an abortion, but because some day you may discover that you need one.


Sara said...

AMEN. If I could give this post a standing ovation, I would.

Suzanne said...

Thanks for sharing your story and taking up this crucial angle of the pro-choice agenda. I never, ever read about this in as concise a way as you presented it, and you are 100% right.

rella1 said...

Thank-you. You are preaching to the choir here! Now if only I was brave enough to send this to my mother- just to give her something to think about.

Anonymous said...

I am carrying a T18 baby. I hope to make it to term and hold him alive, even if for just five minutes. This will bring me a great amount of joy in what will be several months of sadness at knowing what is to come. 50% of T18 babies make it to term and most times when women decide to 'terminate' or 'say goodbye early' it is not because of medical necessity. There is a 50% chance at a joyful & loved (albeit short) life for these babies & it's just not convenient for mom & dad to wait & see. Then, there's the possibility (5-10%) chance that the child will be cherished and loved beyond the first year of life.

I'm sure you'll delete my comment, but I find your baby killing 'pro-choice' stance disturbing. Why do you think we need to kill babies that aren't perfect? They do have much to contribute to society. Abortion is the slippery slope that eventually leads to infanticide and acceptability of killing others in society whom aren't perfect or are too much of a burden or don't contribute quite enough or just aren't convenient to deal with now. The thing about 'pro-choice' is this: Where is the baby's choice?

AND - when pro-choicers talk about 'choice' - why oh why don't they talk about a more responsible choice - ADOPTION. It's almost never mentioned by pro-choicers.

Wabi said...

Hey Anon, I'm actually not going to delete your comment at the moment. Even though, since this was written anonymously a whole 6 months after I wrote the post, chances are that you are not a bereaved pregnant lady at all, but a 46-year-old dude who types "prochoice" into Google and then trolls whatever pops up.

Because if you actually are who you say, then good lord, my heart goes out to you. You've got a tough road ahead, and I wish both you and your baby much mercy, kindness, and peace. Nobody deserves to face this. I'm so sorry you have to.

Regardless of who you are, I would gently point out that here I am discussing a very particular and personal sort of tragedy and how it relates to one small corner of the whole abortion debate. I did not degrade the choice to carry to term in any way in this piece. Yet there you are, quoting canned, completely general anti-abortion slogans that can be summarized as people who terminate only want perfect babies, babykilling = bad, and adoption is the answer! I think your black-and-white rhetoric is just so out of place in the face of my real story. It falls so flat, and maybe even just bolsters my argument a little bit more by comparison.

Just a little something to consider.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I am a pregnant lady (28 wks now) and my belief is that the majority of the time abortion is not used because the life of the mother is endangered, rather because the baby isn't perfect, or the parent's grim personal finances, or right now isn't convenient, or other personal circumstances unrelated to health (unmarried, too young, etc). I said nothing about degrading the idea of carring to term. I disagree with you, though about terminating. As a society, we should cherish all life. I think our society has gone down the wrong path in not protecting our young and most vulnerable. As a society, we have then started judging what makes a life 'valuable' or not. I, unfortunately, live in ultra-liberal Oregon and had to go through four doctors before I found one that didn't judge me for allowing my son's life to be whatever it will be. I found out the hard way that with a genetic abnormality, pro-choice really means 'we won't judge you just so long as the decision you make is to kill your baby.' The first doctor really pushed us to 'terminate' and the second and third refused to consider a c-section (if the baby was under too much stress). I would say that those first three doctors made their own value judgement about whether a short life was worth living. The doctors only 'known' about T18 babies is that until the baby is born, they have no idea how the baby's genetics will manifest into what difficulties.

And, yes, as a pro-life believer, I am against the death penalty, infanticide, doctor-assisted suicide, eugenics and any war which is not defensive (in the case of Iraq, the US is the aggressor, and not acting morally correctly).

Anonymous said...

Boy ya'll know ya'll are really going at it!

Helen said...

If you ever had an abortion than you know that it stays with you your entire life and its not just a thought once in a while, it really feels like murder. Pro life laws would not take away from if there were problems with the pregnancy. The laws would allow for abortions to be performed if there had to be a choice made. me or the baby.
You guys can not be do dummed down as to beleive that a God as merciful as ours would allow the killing of innocent babies.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wabi,
Thanks for sharing your story about your termination. Yes, it is a terrible and awful decision to make about your life and your baby's life. Although doctors are simply basing their opinion on medical diagnosis and treatment, making recommendations based on evidence of past sick babies with similar diseases, terrible quality of life issues for babies and moms, this debate about whether it is "moral" or "right" always seems to resurface. Morality has nothing to do with what Wabi did. She was trying to save her life and sanity, as well as the terrible thing a baby might face if it had to live with this disease.
Dear "anonymous" - I respect your decision to keep your baby who may have layers of medical problems, affecting you and your baby for the rest of your lives (or his/her short life) but do not judge a woman for not choosing to subject herself to the same.
If you do not believe in "eugenics" as you say, then why would you want to force your ideas of existing day in and day out with a sick and suffering baby on the rest of us?
Wabi had to make a decision based on a medical diagnosis that would do harm to herself and her baby if she kept this baby. Simply because you disagree does not make the choice to terminate wrong, it simply was not your choice.
Similarly if I was forced to give birth to multiples, as was my situation, I was told I could have serious medical issues, face death and/or face the death of all my babies. What kind of decision is that to make? Should I have chosen to give birth to all the babies inside me and possibly die and leave them motherless?
I now have 1 child that I love more than anything and he has a healthy mommy. I find that to be the easiest choice of all.
Signed, Anonymous Pro Choice

Anonymous said...

PS Helen, you should read-up on the abortion laws and get your head out of the bible, each state has its own set of rules and now in states such as Oklahoma and North Dakota even a heartbeat detection means no abortion for any women. It is not only anti-woman, anti teenage girl, anti rape victim, anti human. It is disgusting to me that half the population has to fight to have the right to a medical procedure. Shame on you for judging these poor girls. "God" is not paying for 13 year olds to have multiple babies after being molested by their stepfathers. We all are as a society: