January 29, 2014

Why #abortion exemptions after viability shouldn't be lightly dismissed

Saying "I'm not a political person," Nicole Stewart describes why she chose to have an abortion with a pregnancy at 22 weeks:
She and her husband went in for the routine first sonogram at 20 weeks of pregnancy. “We went just to find out the sex of the baby,” she said, “and we found out so much more.”

The sonogram revealed a number of abnormalities in the baby boy. More tests followed. Doctors brought up termination of the pregnancy. And Nicole was devastated. “This was the hardest thing I ever dealt with in my whole life,” she said.

Ultimately, an MRI confirmed the worst. “The entire brain was abnormal,” she said. Another sonogram showed that fluid was building up in the brain and lungs. “The baby was going to stop being able to swallow and essentially drown.”

After much conversation and consultation, the couple decided on an abortion. Nicole was about 22 weeks along.
Problem? The state's new abortion law doesn't allow that. Fortunately for Stewart, it wasn't in effect yet, though she worried it would be.

And she sees that such exemptions are still needed:
“The main reason I have told my story is that I don’t think a majority of people understand why a woman would want to or need to have an abortion after 20 weeks,” she said.

“That’s really all I care about getting out there — that this is not an irresponsible decision. It’s not a decision against life. It’s a decision that is medically driven and really should be between a doctor, her patient and the husband — period.”
Note those words in the second paragraph: "This is not an irresponsible decision."

The Erick Ericksons of the world want to try to make the rest of the world believe that the Nicole Stewarts of the world are all salivating over "unlimited abortions."

Simply not true.

And, there's this:
The new Texas law does create an exemption to the 20-week ban for “severe fetal abnormality,” but Nicole is concerned that the government gets to define that rather than doctors and patients.
The Texas ban is based on the argument that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks. That’s an issue still at play in federal courts — including the U.S. Supreme Court last week. But it’s a settled matter in Nicole’s mind.
Given that the people arguing in favor of this idea are the same people whose idea of "science" is teaching creationism in public schools, we ought to look askance at this, too. That's especially true since best research says that fetal pain isn't likely until 24 weeks, and at least some pro-lifers are hypocritical on this, as I've blogged.

Viability advances will continue to be made, yes. But, many of these same conservatives oppose health care that will help would-be mothers pay for the medical care of those viability advances. And, they stridently oppose things like expanded Medicaid, that might help a few poor women with enough additional prenatal care that might prevent a few abnormal births.

At the same time, incremental as it may be, viability advances are going to continue to happen. A viable pro-choice movement that wants to be sure of reaching out, and reaching out well, to the American center on one of the few political issues where there are a lot of "centrists," will want to make sure to continue to incorporate medical advances while also noting that good reproductive choice support includes all the things I mentioned above.

On this issue, I consider myself somewhere in that center. I probably favor more post-viability restrictions on abortion than some. I certainly don't favor unrestricted abortion all nine months of a term, let alone having nuttier views yet, like Gnu Atheist P.Z. Myers.

But, I'm certainly not in the Greg Abbott camp.

At the same time, having once walked in a pro-life march or two, I can say there is vitriol on both ends at times. And, that not every pro-lifer is a patriarchial male, or a woman married to one.

Nat Hentoff of Village Voice fame is a pro-lifer, for example.

And, Ted Rall, who's even more left-liberal than I am, says the pro-choice movement needs to communicate better, including avoiding demonization.

Indeed, Rall is blunt on one observation:
Abortion is murder. In my view women have--and ought to continue to have--the right to murder their unborn babies. Each abortion is a tragedy, some necessary and others not, and all of them are murder.
I'm not sure I'd use the word "murder." But, I do get where he is coming from. And, that's part of why he says pro-choicers shouldn't demonize pro-lifers.

Unfortunately, such things don't always happen, and there is demonization by both sides. That's why I don't blog about this issue a lot. And, it's why I don't use the word pro-choice about myself. This isn't like not liking the word "atheist" because of Gnu Atheism. I'm still OK with that. This is deeper. And, per what I see Rall getting at, there's simply not "one correct side" on this issue. That's even with knowing that one-fifth or more of human conceptions are spontaneously aborted. Or animal abortions. Or other things, like teratomas (graphic photo).

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