Sunday, October 26, 2008

Hot Topic

My husband has watched all the political debates, while I only watched a few (and honestly, got bored within 20 minutes and kind of zoned out). It's surprising, though, that neither of us had heard about this until now.

I'm going to try to be politically correct, but I will express my opinion here: I am pro-choice. I do not like abortion. I do not like that there are some women who have multiple abortions because they cannot be bothered with birth control.

But neither do I like that so many women are so incredibly ignorant of their options or about sex in general. And I really don't like the idea of criminalizing a procedure which can actually be performed to save a woman's life.

John McCain has an opinion on this, apparently. He said in the third presidential debate that "health for the mother" has been stretched to mean "almost anything" by the pro-abortion movement in this country.

Is this true?

I not only believe that there are situations when abortion is clinically advised, but I have witnessed situations where a surgical abortion had to be performed for the health of the mother. I am making no statement about how often this occurs, and it is totally possible that this gets exaggerated by some in the pro-choice crowd. McCain may not be totally wrong there.

However, to just write off "health of the mother" as simply a "pro-abortion" tactic is to deny that this procedure exists for a reason.

I watched a woman have to undergo a surgical abortion because she had anhydramnios and a fever at 19 weeks gestation. It was a baby she and her husband really wanted, and she was devastated. To protect her health, wait, to protect her life, she needed the procedure. She had chorioamnionitis and the pregnancy was no longer viable without amniotic fluid. At 16 weeks, there was no way to try to save the fetus (which was not yet deceased), and she could not wait 2 months to viability. A horrible situation with a horrible solution, unfortunately.

Of course, being truly "pro-choice" means that had she chosen to refuse the procedure, we would have had to respect her wishes, even if it meant potential death from sepsis and hemorrhage. Some women would make this choice, and though I don't agree with it I understand why they would make it.

Am I exaggerating this case? No. I didn't make it up for the sake of making a point. Is this a rare case? I certainly hope so--I only saw this one. There are other scenarios where the mother's health would be placed in jeopardy by becoming pregnant, of course; renal failure is one, heart failure another, diabetes, etc. These cases all must be judged on a one-by-one basis between the woman and her doctor (and her partner, ideally). To make a sweeping statement that "all of these cases require abortion" is (to me) as ridiculous as saying "none of these cases could ever require abortion."

Of course, the best way to prevent abortion is to prevent unwanted pregnancy, or to prevent pregnancy in a woman who is at such high risk from becoming pregnant. Still, even wanted, planned pregnancies can have a terrible outcome. To mandate across the board that "health of the mother" doesn't matter (as by leaving it out of the partial-birth abortion ban) is to mandate at a legal level the choice some women are forced to make. Even if this is an extremely rare condition (and I think it is, although I do not have stats on this), it seems to me grossly unfair to have a law which makes the decision that a woman whose health is jeopardized and whose life may be in danger must not terminate her pregnancy.

And if Senator McCain thinks so little of the "health of the mother" then I think I know what side he will ultimately choose to vote for.

No comments on this post, please.