I managed to get through my child-bearing years without bearing children or becoming pregnant. I did not want children, and now in the years when I might be enjoying grandchildren, I will have to settle for only the vicarious experiences of grandparents of my acquaintance.
Before it was legal, I had friends who flew to England or drove to Mexico to get abortions. I have friends who boarded buses alone and traveled to distant towns or cities where sympathetic doctors performed illegal abortions and friends who met strangers on corners, cash in hand and were driven blindfolded to (illegal) “abortion factories.”
Wendy Davis and women (and men) in Texas and North Dakota and North Carolina and other places across the country have stood up against the arbitrary and authoritarian dictates of those who oppose all abortion and want to chip away at the choices women (and men) make together or alone to end pregnancies using legal and safe methods.
The latest chipping away has come down now to counting weeks, 20 to be specific, and this new and arbitrary number has a lot of people agreeing that really, we should draw a line, and that seems like a “viable” number.
No One should interfere in a medical decision that has to remain between a woman (or a couple) and her/their doctor.
A pregnancy that medically ends at 20 or whatever number of weeks beyond that is not common. Only 1.5% of abortions are performed at this stage. It is expensive, thousands of dollars. So it is not done casually. It is dangerous, if not done by well-practiced medical professionals.
I have now personally experienced, in my vicarious grandmotherly way, the tragic end to a wanted pregnancy, expectant joy that turned to the deepest sorrow, at 23 weeks.
Even with (and because of) all the medical equipment and diagnostic methodologies, it can be late in a pregnancy when terrible fetal abnormalities are discovered. Fatal ones. At this point, there are no good “choices.”
Should the pregnancy continue until the fetus dies in utero? Should the woman’s life be put at risk? Should a family be forced to continue a pregnancy so there is a birth certificate followed by a death certificate? So there can be a funeral and a gravestone? Who outside those concerned should decide what pain and suffering should be borne?
The termination of pregnancy at this stage, whether it occurs “naturally” or medically is an immense loss, the very thought almost unbearable. It is real, but also intangible lacking both a birth certificate and a death certificate. How does one measure the love that was not born and the grief that was?
Zealots, political and religious, care little for real mothers and fathers who face these unexpected tragedies. They care less for the doctors and other medical professionals who deliver the terrible news, the second opinions and the final results. A cruel and calculating state has no role to play.
Operation Rescue and their like are collecting signatures in Albuquerque as we speak, to put a restrictive abortion measure on our City ballot in October. It appears they will gather sufficient petitions to create another case for a SCOTUS challenge.
There is no end to it. We’ll fight back because we will Never Give Up.
Photo by Kit O’Connell, released under a Creative Commons license.