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ON BEING 11
15 May 2019
Brianna is 11 years old. You probably know that.
A happy little girl, small for her age.
It's a terrible thing to even contemplate, but if she lived in Georgia and were to be raped and become pregnant, the government would make her bear the child and give birth to it.
The newly signed bill, which goes into effect in 2020, forbids all abortion past the time of heartbeat, a time when most women don't even realize they are pregnant. There are no exceptions for rape or incest. If she were to go to another state for an abortion, that is also illegal.
If Laurel were to become pregnant again in Georgia or Alabama, and should she miscarry, she could be forced to undergo questioning to prove she did nothing to abort the baby. Miscarriage is painful enough but to have to go through an interrogation to prove that you did nothing yourself to cause the loss of the pregnancy is rubbing salt in an already raw wound.
Abortion is always going to be a controversial, emotional issue. Since Roe v. Wade (which I heard this morning is now in jeopardy, as some legal eagles are saying that there are issues which can be challenged to revoke it), the number of women killed trying to get a illegal abortion has declined significantly. Since Roe v. Wade, women have had a say over what happens to their own bodies, and the government is trying to take back that choice. Death rates will rise again.
There has even been talk (by our great and glorious leader) that there must be punishment for a woman who has an abortion -- 99 years in prison has been suggested -- though nobody seems to want to bring punishment to any of the men who father these unwanted babies. Punish the men? Pfft. Surely you jest.
I worked for 12 years in an ob/gyn office where abortions were performed on Tuesday nights. It was not strictly an "abortion clinic" because it also did women's health and obstetrical care.
I started as a part time transcriptionist and when I was offered to become full time, I had to do a lot of soul searching. Until then I would not work on Tuesdays and considered that I was "wishy washy" on abortion. If I was going to work full time, I had to come to peace with whatever my opinion was. I finally decided, along with the Supreme Court, that the decision to abort or not should be between the woman and her doctor. That if it was OK to end the pregnancy for a little girl who had been raped, could we say that her next door neighbor with six children who couldn't handle another one, but whose religion forbad the use of contraception, could not choose to end the pregnancy?
I finally decided that I was pro-choice.
I did not always agree with the choice that some women made. I always think of the woman who had an abortion because she didn't want to be pregnant in the summertime, who returned a year later for help in getting pregnant because she was ready and was having difficulty.
I hated the high school kids who showed up with their friends for their pre-abortion appointments in the morning as if they were going to a social event.
But I also saw so many women for whom abortion was a serious decision, who had good reasons. The doctors and staff were never judgmental, unlike the protesters outside the office who would beg me not to kill my baby (I guess because I was fat they assumed I was going into the office for an abortion, not to type).
It always amazes me how uninformed the men (and yeah, there are some women, but mostly men...middle aged to older men) are who makes the decisions about women's bodies. Does Trump really think that doctors will deliver a baby, then wrap it up and, with the mother, decide whether to kill it or not? He has described that gruesome scene many times. Does that idiotic senator really think that you can just remove an ectopic pregnancy and move it from wherever it has imbedded into the uterus? Even if you could (and nobody has ever done it) it would be major surgery, and life-threatening for the woman.
There is no good answer to abortion, but given the choice between back alley abortions that often kill women, and abortions done by trained doctors in sterile environments I go for legalizing it and letting women decide what works for them. If our legislators put half as much work into taking care of the children of the world now, homeless, suffering starvation, rejected by parents, as they do the life of a fetus, this would be a much better world
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