Monday, January 22, 2007

Pro-Choice Day

In commemoration of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I agreed (along with a gazillion other people) to do a post about why I am pro-choice.

At first glance, it may seem strange to talk about the right to intentionally end a pregnancy on a blog documenting my pregnancy losses and obsessive attempts to start a pregnancy. And, given my fertility issues, one might think that reproductive rights are not something that will have any impact on my life going forward. But one would be wrong.

First of all, my age and egg quality issues present the very real possibility that I will conceive a fetus with severe genetic abnormalities. After all of this heartache, we could conceive and then find out that I am carrying a fetus that would not survive, or that would be horribly disabled. And we might find that out relatively late in a pregnancy. That possibility haunts me. I honestly don't know what decision we would make in that situation, but the important thing is that it would be our decision, and ours alone. We are the ones who would have to live with the consequences, either way. The thought that some government regulation could prevent us from making that decision, or require us to travel to a different state, or require us to sit through some horrid video and lecture while our hearts and spirits are utterly broken, or dictate how the procedure should be done, is nightmarish in the extreme.

Second, we are going to have children, one way or another. And I want them to have the opportunity to make decisions for themselves. I got to finish college, join the Peace Corps, go to law school, move across the country and have a wonderful life and a great career. I got to make all of those decisions for myself, and now I am reaping both the benefits and the consequences of those decisions. I am a more responsible and empathetic person because I got to make those decisions for myself. I want my children to have that, too.

Decisions about becoming a parent are the most difficult, and consequential, that most people ever make. I have shed more tears over these issues than I have over anything else in my life. And even though I have been increasingly open about discussing our fertility issues, it is essentially a very private matter. It is an area where goverment intrusion simply does not belong.

Third, limits on reproductive rights affect women who are struggling to have children as well as those who are struggling not to. I know of a woman who has suffered many miscarriages who discovered, once again, that her fetus had stopped growing. Her doctor told her that the pregnancy was not viable. However, the only hospital in town was a Catholic hospital, and they would not perform the D&C because the fetus still had a heartbeat. She had to go to a Planned Parenthood clinic in a nearby city, run a gauntlet of wackos and dead fetus pictures, and sit through a state-mandated lecture on how fetuses feel pain and how adoption is great, only to discover that by the time the D&C was performed there was no heartbeat after all.

The medical profession calls every pregnancy that ends before 20 weeks an abortion. I have to admit, it was jarring to see my 10-week miscarriage labeled on medical forms as a "missed abortion." But the uniformity of that term underscores an important point. Every abortion is a sad event, and it doesn't matter whether it happened spontaneously, or because the fetus was not viable, or because of the circumstances of its conception, or simply because the parents were not yet ready to be parents. Every pregnancy loss has its own story. There cannot be a one size fits all resolution.

This life is hard enough. I am grateful for the freedom to struggle honestly, to make mistakes, and to try again. Let's not allow anything to interfere with that.


Anonymous said...

Of course I agree with you on all points.
-But I certainly wouldn't have been able to put my thoughts across as well as you!


Tiara said...

Right on, Binky!

(I'm with what Atomic said)

Trish said...

Very well said.