For starters, this is NOT my position on this issue.
But after reading righteousbabe’s diary from Monday as well as the news of Bush appointing a foaming at the mouth lunatic to oversee the Office of Family Planning, I felt that it was time to tell my story. And I have generally stayed out of these discussions, even though I have been personally in a situation where I had to make these decisions not once but twice. Frankly, I don’t think that I ever told my story to anyone, so maybe this will be therapeutic to me as well.
I bring this up now, mainly because of the absolute hypocrisy of the “life begins at conception and should never be terminated, except when we think that it should” mentality that has become more pervasive as laws restricting a woman’s right to choose are being debated and placed on ballots. And no doubt, this will be ratcheted up over the next year or two, as the Supreme Court is set to weigh in again on whether it is ok to tell a woman what she can or can’t do with respect to medical decisions, even though there are cuts in fundings and programs for much of the country, and a sick twisted focus on “abstinence only” programs – as if burying your head in the sand will magically make abortions, rape, abuse and unprotected sex disappear.
While both of the times were unexpected, the fact that there were serious medical considerations took a huge role in the ultimate decision that we made. One of the two times I was faced with this decision was with my ex-wife, and we were engaged at the time. I wouldn’t otherwise mention who it was, but she sadly has succumbed to a lifelong eating disorder, so giving some background won’t invade her privacy. The identity of the other party isn’t necessary, but suffice to say that it wasn’t back when I was in high school….
We were engaged at the time, and she was taking some serious medication for anxiety (and most likely early stages of a recurring eating disorder) and the medication would have had serious adverse health effects on the fetus. Most likely, her health would have been affected as well, regardless of whether or not she carried to full term. The fact that we were not yet married, or that she wasn’t too good at holding down a full time job didn’t really factor into the decision that we made though.
The other time that I was faced with this decision also had serious health consequences come into the equation. We were told very early on that there would most definitely be brain damage, birth defects and possible complications – that is if there was no miscarriage, which was a distinct possibility.
These were not easy decisions to make - not by a long shot. Now, not that it matters much, but I was firmly pro-choice before these experiences, and am certainly still in that camp today. However, that is very different from me being ”pro-abortion”. I think that really summed up my feelings the best when he was on Meet the Press back in May 2005. I remember watching him make the following statement, and I can still recite it verbatim as it hit me like a ton of bricks:
MR. RUSSERT: One issue where the Democrats seem to be changing their thinking is abortion. Here's Howard Dean on April 17: "I think we need to talk about abortion differently... Republicans have forced us into a corner to defend abortion..." And then, April 21: "If I could strike the words `choice' and `abortion' out of the lexicon of our party, I would."
DR. DEAN: Absolutely. I'm not advocating we change our position. I believe that a woman has a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets, and I think Democrats believe that in general. Here's the problem--and we were outmanipulated by the Republicans; there's no question about it. We have been forced into the idea of "We're going to defend abortion." I don't know anybody who thinks abortion is a good thing. I don't know anybody in either party who is pro-abortion. The issue is not whether we think abortion is a good thing. The issue is whether a woman has a right to make up her own mind about her health care, or a family has a right to make up their own mind about how their loved ones leave this world. I think the Republicans are intrusive and they invade people's personal privacy, and they don't have a right to do that.
Let me tell you why I think we ought to--why I want to strike the words "abortion" and "choice." When I campaigned for this job, I talked to lots of Democrats. And there are significant numbers of pro-life Democrats in the South. And one lady said to me, you know, "I'm pro-life. I don't like abortion. I would never have one. I would hope my daughter would never have one. But, you know, if the lady next door got herself in a fix, I'm not sure I should be the one to tell her what to do." Now, we call that woman pro-choice, but she thinks of herself as pro-life. The minute we start with the "pro-choice, pro- choice, pro-choice," she says, "Well, that's not me."
But when you talk about framing this debate the way it ought to be framed, which is "Do you want Tom DeLay and the boys to make up your mind about this, or does a woman have a right to make up her own mind about what kind of health care she gets," then that pro-life woman says "Well, now, you know, I've had people try to make up my mind for me and I don't think that's right." This is an issue about who gets to make up their minds: the politicians or the individual. Democrats are for the individual. We believe in individual rights. We believe in personal freedom and personal responsibility. And that debate is one that we didn't win, because we kept being forced into the idea of defending the idea of abortion.
And there is the issue exactly. I don’t want anyone telling me what decisions that I (and my wife/girlfriend/fiancée/etc.) have to make. What makes this worse (or more of a hypocrisy) is the debate about “exceptions” to making abortions completely illegal. If you are against a woman’s right to choose, or if you are against terminating the “life” of a fetus, cluster of cells or whatever else the anti-choicers are calling it, then there should be no exceptions. To carve out an exception for any situation is to compromise the position that you have. Period. To have any other position ( do you hear that, Senator McCain?) is disingenuous, hypocritical and flat out pandering. And while I certainly don’t agree one iota with the “no abortions ever” crowd, at least they are consistent in their obsession with controlling other people’s decisions.
Would the decisions that we made have been different if there weren’t serious health issues at play? For my ex-wife, I don’t know, but maybe. For the other situation, probably not, but hindsight is 20/20, so I really have no clue.
But I can tell you this – these were not cases of rape or incest or even “life threatening” to the mother (at least to the extent that it would fit the prescribed “exemption”). And you can bet that there would be no assistance for all of the health care costs associated with the major health issues that were laid out to us.
And therein lies another big hypocrisy of the “pro-life” movement – they are only “pro-life” until birth. Then it is “screw you – you’re on your own”.