November
10th 2009
HCR, the Stupak amendment, and the complex reality of abortion

Posted under: American history, Gender, the body, unhappy endings, wankers, women's history

Eucharius Roesslin 1545Jeralyn Merritt at TalkLeft has done some exemplary analysis of Health Care Reform and the Stupak amendment added this weekend to the  health insurance reform bill passed in the U.S. House of Representatives Saturday night.  Examples:  see here, here, and then she asks, “How About Pre-Natal and Birth Care for Pregnant Undocumented Women” in the U.S. who will necessarily give birth to U.S. citizens?  She links to a Mother Jones story that explains exactly how odious this particular poison pill is in “Stupak is a Radical Change:”

Mother Jones: Why Stupak is more radical than you think.

The two parts to the Stupak amendment:

The Stupak amendment mandates that no federal funds can be used to pay for an abortion or “cover any part of any health plan” that includes coverage of an abortion, except in cases where the mother’s life is in danger or the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

Part 1 is just the Hyde Amendment. But, part 2?

Where pro-lifers won big was on the second part, which could significantly limit the availability of private insurance plans that cover the procedure. That’s because Stupak’s amendment doesn’t just apply to the public option—the lower-cost plan to be offered by the government.

The House health care bill will also provide subsidies to help people and small businesses purchase plans on an exchange. This represents a lucrative new market for insurers: anyone earning less than $88,000 for a family of four qualifies for assistance, as well as certain small companies. But to gain access to these new customers, insurers will have to drop abortion coverage from their plans.

That’s A-OK with the forced pregnancy crowd, who are apparently unfamiliar with how private health insurance works now:  we all pay into a big pot, and then we make claims–and yes, those claims are sometimes to cover abortions and all sorts of other medical procedures of which you may or may not approve.  There’s lots of money from premiums paid by people of all political persuasions–pro-choice, pro-life, anti-immigrant, pro-immigrant, etc.–and it all goes to cover services provided to everyone.  It’s stupid for people get all excited when it comes to their pooled tax dollars, as opposed to their pooled private insurance dollars.  What’s next?  So-called “pro-lifers” will demand that their municipal and state taxes not pay for roads driven on or library books checked out by citizens who differ in their political views? 

Oh, and the Stupak amendment contains one of those “life, rape, or incest” qualifiers, which is the biggest load of hot, steaming B.S. ever.  If fetal life is so sacred (an opinion I respect, by the way, although I think it should remain an opinion and not a matter of law), why permit the elective abortion of fetuses who are the result of rape or incest?  They have no part in their own conception, unless you’re of the mindest of the Mather boys and believe in original sin.  Rapists are criminals, but the fetuses they may create are as innocent as any fetuses who are the result of a consensual sex act.  The conditions of conception and/or consent of the woman or girl involved shouldn’t make a difference if you’re really “pro-life” and not just against elective abortions of which you personally disapprove.

But, grasping the complexity of what we like to call “reality” has never been the strong suit of the forced pregnancy brigade.  Anyone who has had an appointment with an OB/GYN knows that the medical term “abortion” is more plastic than the term “abortion” is in political discourse.  We are asked to document the number of “abortions” we’ve had–and medically speaking, “abortions” are any pregnancy that didn’t result either in a stillbirth or birth of a live child.  (“Spontaneous abortion” is the more refined term for what’s popularly called a miscarriage.)  Politically speaking, “abortion” is an elective procedure that selfish and/or evil women procure to terminate a pregnancy that’s the result of their sluttly, slutty behavior.

A good friend of mine has had two “abortions” in the past two years.  The first time she was informed about 12 weeks into her pregnancy by her physician that the very much wanted fetus she was carrying had actually died at about 8 weeks’ gestation.  The second time, she was informed again at about 10 weeks’ gestation that the fetus she was carrying was so small and had such a weak and sporadic heartbeat that it was extremely unlikely to live.  In both cases, she had “abortions” to remove the fetal tissue, and to attempt to get her uterus back to normal as soon as possible so that it would be prepared to host a very-much-wanted pregnancy she hoped would lead to a live birth.  In both cases, the idea of waiting for a “spontaneous abortion” was unpleasant and disturbing to her–some women undoubtedly choose differently, but that was her choice.  The removal of either live or dead fetal tissue calls for the same procedure–only when you check into a hospital, it’s usually called by the clinical and less political term “D & C” (“Dilation and Curettage” of the uterus.)  Here’s a similar story, if you want more of the details–h/t Susie at Suburban Guerrilla.

monstrousbirthWhen we peel back the mysteries of gynecology and obstetrics, we find that it’s a world of shades of gray, and that “abortions” happen all of the time–sometimes they’re “spontaneous,” sometime elective, and sometimes like my friend’s abortions, they’re in-between.  And all of these mysteries happen to all kinds of women, whether or not they’re happy, sad, or ambivalent about their pregnancies.  Women’s bodies are apparently just too complicated, disgusting, and leaky, with all of their alluring and yet disturbing apertures that blur the boundaries between the self and others, to fit neatly into the categories that posturing politicians devise for them.  So-called “pro-life” women who have experienced any kind of abortion know this, as do their pro-choice sisters.  Who among us can say what’s right for someone else’s body, someone else’s life, and someone else’s family?  How can crude laws serve people’s most intimate medical needs well, unless they affirm each woman’s Fourth Amendment right to privacy and bodily sovereignty?

Hooray for Diana DeGette and at least 40 other Dems who say they’ll kill health insurance reform unless the Stupak amendment is stripped.  Fie on all those Dems who don’t get it.  If this doesn’t get fixed, we Dems who favor little things like equal protection under the law had better think seriously about registering as independents and staying home or casting only protest votes next year.

35 Comments »

35 Responses to “HCR, the Stupak amendment, and the complex reality of abortion”

  1. squadratomagico on 10 Nov 2009 at 10:53 am #

    You nailed it right on the head with the logical incoherence of the rape and incest exemption. If you truly believe that an individual life begins at conception, then “murder” of such a life does not appear to be justified by the circumstances of conception. Beyond this, of course, it strikes me that the pro-life political position would also be a great deal more tenable, non-hypocritical, and consistent if it were a general position that one should not end a human life before it’s natural time. I likely would have a great deal more respect for a pro-lifer who linked hir opposition to abortion in to a broader position that also included agitation for ending the death penalty and for complete pacifism in international relations. While there may be those who hold those positions and link them up conceptually, there does not appear to be a movement that truly is centered around the position of being pro-life in all it’s manifestations.

  2. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 10:59 am #

    There are a lot of American Catholics who hold the kind of “seamless garment” view of being pro-life that you describe, Squadrato. When I taught at a Catholic university, I worked with a lot of them and came to really appreciate their point of view–we agreed on everything but abortion. Unfortunately, the lobbying organization known as the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops only makes ultimata about abortion, not illegal wars, hunger, poverty, disease, or the death penalty.

  3. ej on 10 Nov 2009 at 11:10 am #

    I’d also like to know what they would do if a fetus was diagnosed early on with a condition that meant it wouldn’t survive more than an hour after the birth. Would they really force a woman to carry that child to term without giving her any say? More than anything, this seems to me like an amendment that wasn’t carefully considered by anyone in their rush to pass the bill-except maybe by those women in the House that were shouted down.

  4. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 11:29 am #

    ej–good questions. It seems like the idea behind the Stupak-Pitts amendment (now isn’t that a great name?) is to privatize all of the risks of pregnancy and make them all a woman’s problem/fault. Ladies, I hope you’re listening: Stupak-Pitts isn’t giving you any assistance or options in the event you have a spontaneous abortion that doesn’t discharge from your uterus, and it won’t give you anywhere to go in the event you find out that your fetus or baby has a genetic condition that is incompatible with life outside the uterus. (Not to mention those who know they can’t or don’t want to risk having a child with trisomy, spina bifida, or any other serious disabilities. I admire people who take care of their children with these conditions, but it’s not something absolutely everybody can do.)

    So for those of you who are thinking about getting pregnant, I’d reconsider, because pregnancy is getting riskier and more dangerous all of the time. Apparently anything that happens will be all your problem to fix.

  5. ej on 10 Nov 2009 at 11:41 am #

    I was encouraged by Barbara Boxer’s statements today on this issue. And glad that someone finally had the moxie to point out that the men making policy in the senate don’t seem to trust women to make these decisions, further reinforcing the need for more women in politics.

  6. quixote on 10 Nov 2009 at 12:18 pm #

    What keeps getting lost in the abortion controversy is that it hinges on who’s human enough to have rights, not just on who’s human. Science can tell us if an organism or a mass of cells are part of Homo sapiens.

    But there is no cell marker that lights up when that mass of organized tissue is due to get legal rights. That’s true of an embryo, a newborn, a 21 year-old, or a 60 year-old.

    There is no objective fact that can mark personhood. When people are granted rights is necessarily a matter of religious belief or social consensus.

    Do we really want to get into the territory (again) where some people decide who counts and who doesn’t? Stupak is probably pretty convinced he can limit this to breeders. But one day, if he’s lucky, he’ll be old. If people can decide on others’ medical procedures, what’s to stop me from deciding he’s too high-maintenance, medically, to be worth it?

    In any matter of belief, either everyone’s beliefs are respected, or nobody’s are.

    (I’ve been carrying on about this forever: eg A choice or a child, and yesterday, You have no rights.)

  7. perpetua on 10 Nov 2009 at 12:49 pm #

    @ ej, regarding the issue of fetus’s diagnosed with conditions that bring them to birth but not beyond: Of COURSE pro-lifers would love to force women to give birth to these babies. That’s happening today, all over the place. The majority of late second and third trimester abortions are for rare conditions that mean that the fetus will die, either in utero or immediately following birth (hours or perhaps days, but absolutely no further). But because almost every state has a a “no abortion after X date” law unless there’s a 100% chance the fetus will die (and most perinatologists will not swear to that, even if there’s a 99% chance) that means women are forced to continue in these pregnancies. And of course with the closure of Dr Tiller’s office, one of the only refuges for such women is now gone.

    @ Historiann: I’m not sure I’m following you when you say the Stupack won’t given women any choices in event of fetal death that doesn’t naturally expel. Are you saying that Stupack won’t provide for D&Cs? (And while I agree the medical procedures must be almost identical, doctors do seem to differentiate them – most OBs don’t perform abortions, but most will perform D&Cs.) The failure to expel tissue is considered a dangerous condition for women, who can develop life threatening infections when all tissue isn’t expelled. The amendment doesn’t differentiate between procedures performed on live issue and dead tissue? I’ve never heard a pro-life person speak out against D&Cs.

    I’d like to point out another irony of women’s health care and the abortion debate in this country. It’s not central to Stupack, etc, but it’s something I think about all the time now. I’m pregnant again and I have a rare condition called hyperemesis – basically severe and sometimes dangerous nausea/vomiting throughout pregnancy. It is not uncommon for women with HG to terminate their pregnancies in the 1st or 2nd trimester (under conditions that would probably meet the requirement of “threat to the mother’s life,” since women can and do die of complications of HG – organ failure from extreme malnutrition). The irony here is that from what I can tell the majority of women who seek termination in this case do so because they cannot access acceptable care from their providers in the first place. Their concerns and even medical condition is dismissed as being “in the their head” or “normal morning sickness”, even women who have been to the ER 30 or 40 times for severe dehydration. My point is that abortion or no abortion, the larger issues of women’s reproductive health is in an absolutely outrageous shambles in this country. And it’s all linked together – as Historiann points about women’s bodies being too leaky and disgusting, and everything bad that happens during pregnancy/birth in particular in her fault. (I was never in my life treated like a moron until I got pregnant the first time. It’s outrageous the condescension, patronage, and “helpful advice” pregnant women must endure. And don’t even think about picking up that Brie or sipping a glass of wine! You no longer belong to yourself, but somehow become the property of doctors and the state.)

  8. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 12:59 pm #

    perpetua: the article I linked to from RH reality check says that Stupak-Pitts says that “insurers can chose whether or not to cover “abortion services,” pro-life amendments don’t just affect their intended victims — women seeking a way out of an unwanted or medically harmful pregnancy. They also affect another group of victims — women whose pregnancies have already ended but have not yet miscarried.” It’s the “abortion services” language, plus the fact that all terminated pregnancies (miscarriages and elective abortions) are “abortions,” that suggests that women seeking to terminate a pregnancy will have more problems if this law goes into effect.

    What will happen if, as in my friend’s case, someone is carrying a shrinky-dink fetus with a very weak heartbeat. Will she have to wait until there is conclusive evidence of fetal demise? How long will she have to wait? Oh–but don’t wait too long and find yourself needing a D & E (Dilation and Extraction), even if your baby is dead! When the state starts putting limits even on the abortions most of us agree are icky and nasty, it imperils all women’s access to safe obstetric and gynecological care. No one thinks so-called “partial birth” abortions are nice, until you need the services of someone trained in those skills.

    Any laws restricting the right to full reproductive health care, including “abortion services” will have serious consequences for all women, regardless of whether they’re pro-choice, “pro-life,” or whatever. I agree with quixote: we have to be absolutist. Too much has already been given away.

  9. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    p.s. to perpetua: sorry to have you read this grim post & thread when you’re pregnant! Congratulations, and I’m really sorry to hear about the hyperemesis. That sounds really, super-duper unpleasant. Here’s hoping that you’ll be over that very soon.

  10. John S. on 10 Nov 2009 at 1:06 pm #

    I have long thought that the “rape and incest” exceptions were things thrown in to make the forced pregnancy crowd feel better with what they’re doing. These provisions would be impossible to enforce. Would a prosecutor have to secure a criminal conviction in order to order for a woman to prove she was raped and therefore “eligible” to choose to have an abortion? Having another standard would seem problematic to me (you’ve been raped when it comes to abortion, but not when it comes to punishing rapists?).
    Given the lack of success our court system has in getting convictions in these cases, however, this seems like an impossibly high bar. Moreover, our courts are often *slow*, and choosing to have an abortion is a time sensitive thing.

    (I suppose a girl under the age of consent would fall under the category of statutory rape. But nonetheless–this is a small subset of the exception.)

    The “incest” exception is another thing. I take it that those pushing for this exception are thinking of instances when a family member has sex with an underage girl, and not sex between consenting brother and sister, for instance. But sex between a father and an underage daughter is statutory rape, which is to say….rape. Moreover, who would decide if incest (i.e., intra-family statutory rape) has occurred?

    I know these may seem like side issues or digressions, but I do think the hypocrisy of some of those who support such “exceptions” is at the core of the issue here. They support “exceptions” that are unenforceable, leading to a world that is exactly the same as one in which abortion is banned in all cases. They just don’t have the courage to face up to their convictions.

  11. perpetua on 10 Nov 2009 at 1:10 pm #

    Historiann, I completely agree with you and all your points – I was just confused about that specific issue because it seemed so particularly outrageous (if such a category might exist in this whole disgusting episode). And don’t get me started on all that nauseating “partial-birth abortion” talk from the 90s and how even pro-choice people couldn’t bring themselves to support such yucky terminations. As I mentioned in the previous thread, one of the great tragedies of these restrictions on women’s access to full and acceptable health care is that the voices of women who have undergone and undergo these harrowing experiences are completely silenced by the shrieking of hysterical moralists (many of whom, as we know, would also make use of abortion services in the same position).

  12. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 1:12 pm #

    John S.: you’re entirely right. The “rape and incest” loopholes are there just to make it politically easier to swallow. Most people agree that forcing a raped woman or girl to endure the resulting pregnancy against her will is horrific. With the “rape and incest” framing, everyone agrees that slutty slutty slut sluts are the problem, not male sexual aggression and/or irresponsibility when it comes their own responsibility for continence or birth control.

  13. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 1:16 pm #

    perpetua: oh, yes: I know for a fact that so-called “pro-life” women sure do avail themselves of abortion services. (Scroll down to the last paragraph in that post.) They went to my friend and wanted her to terminate their pregnancies in her safe, clean, legal clinic, and then went back out to shame the slutty slutty slut sluts and to try to deny other women the safe, legal abortion they just procured.

  14. Kathleen Lowrey on 10 Nov 2009 at 1:44 pm #

    Is there a list of persuadables that might be added to DeGette’s 40 with the right support? And where is a list of their names so I can write and say hooray?

    Thinking about this from the other side — the heartless nasties who cast their vote for Stupak — just makes me lose it. So I want to cheer up by thinking about the decent folks in Congress, I want to know them by name! Can anybody direct me to where I can find a list? I didn’t see it in the linked Denver Post article.

    about those “pro-life” women who have had abortions — heaven only knows how many of them are just terrified all the time: at the protests, in the clinic, and most of all, in the bedroom. It’s just another example of how women try to live out society’s impossible contradictions — be sexual in private, be sexless in public (for example). I can’t hate them. But the overwhelmingly male congress that voted for this brutal amendment? oh yah. It’s so upsetting that: I’m back to fixing my mind on the forty! Who are these allies and how can we make their ranks grow?

  15. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 1:49 pm #

    I don’t hate so-called “pro-life” women for getting abortions; I’m glad abortions are still nominally legal so that they didn’t have to get unsafe, illegal abortions. I just don’t have any respect for them if they’re out among the screamers or other activists against abortion.

    A copy of the letter is here, although it doesn’t have names on it. Diana DeGette’s congressional web page may be the place to go for updates. (Hate that “any further than current law” qualification.)

    Whether or not your congressional rep. will sign it or not, you can write your congressperson and tell hir that you support the pro-choice caucus and will vote your pro-choice interests come 2010.

  16. Bavardess on 10 Nov 2009 at 1:57 pm #

    I find the idea of women being forced to carry babies to term who have severe mental/physical disabilities appalling. I also wonder who is going to care for all those children who survive, but in a state of needing intensive 24-hour care for the rest of their lives (but I bet it won’t be their fathers who’ll be expected to carry the burden of caregiving.) I know people choose to carry pregnancies to term when the fetus is severely disabled, but in those cases, it is *their choice* and presumably, they know what they will be sacrificing to care for their child (and often, they also have some financial means or extensive family support to help). Forcing a woman to make that sacrifice when they don’t want to just seems to me to open up the potential for a whole lot of abuse & neglect in the longer term.

  17. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 2:00 pm #

    Bavardess–yes, exactly. And in the U.S., making the self-sacrificing decision to give birth to a severely disabled child can be and usually is financially ruinous for most families, because we don’t have universal health care! It would be different if people knew their children’s medical and educational needs would be paid for throughout their lives, but that’s not how my country does it, unfortunately.

    So, we’re totally on our own. If our insurance company chooses not to cover us or our children (disabled or not), we can’t do much about it, except petition to get on Medicaid in the case of profound disabilities. That works sometimes, but not always, and not until most families spend every cent of their own.

  18. Kathleen Lowrey on 10 Nov 2009 at 2:14 pm #

    I’d like to interject to protest the whole “but what about disabled babies!!!!” alarum, for two reasons. One, it’s really able-ist. Two, it can be used to make that invidious suggestion that there are Important Abortions and Frivolous Abortions, when all there really are is Nobody Else’s Business Abortions.

    Dragging disability and people’s fear of and anxiety about disability into the mix is bad for a lot of reasons; it’s bad for any kind of politics relating to disability and it’s bad for any kind of politics that says a woman’s decision to have an abortion should not be up for public referendum.

    Otherwise, what you are going to get — what you already do get — is people making the argument that restricting abortion is necessary to defend the rights of people with disabilities. These are separate issues and it is really important to understand them as such. Making a pro-choice argument on the basis of “oh yikes disability!” is bad politics (bad ethics and bad humanity, too).

  19. quixote on 10 Nov 2009 at 2:33 pm #

    All there really are is “nobody else’s business abortions”

    Amen.

  20. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 3:16 pm #

    Kathleen–are you objecting to something I wrote? I think it’s important to understand all of the ramifications of private insurers being forbidden to offer abortion services to their customers. I’m betting just about every woman who has been pregnant thought a lot about the possibility of having a less-than-perfect child, whether or not they would do the prenatal testing, and then thought hard about what they would do with the information. I also think it’s important for people to understand the precarious financial situation families are thrust into because of the lack of universal health care in the U.S. I’m not making any pro-choice arguments on the basis of disability–but I think Bavardess was right to bring it up because it’s something that most families talk about and think about when contemplating or enduring pregnancies.

    I agree that all abortions are “nobody else’s business abortions.”

  21. ej on 10 Nov 2009 at 3:24 pm #

    I think the other point people were trying to make in addressing all of these scenarios is that it isn’t just unplanned pregnancies that are impacted by the restrictions, but women’s reproductive care more generally. Calling it “abortion” is way too simplistic, and somehow suggests that only a small percentage of people might be effected. Perhaps if more people understood the full ramifactions of the amendment, they might be more inclined to oppose it. This to me seems like one of the reasons anti-choice folks have been so successful in chipping at at abortion rights-they’ve framed the conversation so narrowly that people often don’t realize what they are losing.

  22. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 3:26 pm #

    Very well put, ej. This bears repeating:

    “This to me seems like one of the reasons anti-choice folks have been so successful in chipping at at abortion rights-they’ve framed the conversation so narrowly that people often don’t realize what they are losing.”

  23. Emma on 10 Nov 2009 at 4:00 pm #

    FYI, the health care reform also does not require health insurance plans to cover ob/gyn wellness visits. It requires coverage for PAP smears and mammograms, but not birth control, d.v. screening, and other wellness issues. Apparently, it was “bargained” away in hopes of avoiding a showdown over abortion.

    Also, I’ve been told that any public option plan offered will not cover abortion services.

  24. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 4:06 pm #

    Emma, you’re right: I’ve seen discussion on another feminist blog about how exactly one can get a Pap smear without the ob/gyn visit. Will they sell us auto-swabs we can just mail away to a lab?

    I never thought in a million years that the public option would offer abortion services, but I thought that Democrats realized that their party is female-majority, and that a majority of those women are pro-choice, and that if women don’t show up to vote on election day that they’re SOL. I guess they need reminding.

  25. Kathleen Lowrey on 10 Nov 2009 at 4:18 pm #

    I do object to discussions of abortion that raise disability as some kind of frightening specter, yes. Look, people can & do feel all kinds of negative ways about disability; there is nothing I can do about that. I can, however, object when people invoke the scenario of having a disabled child as obviously redolent with tragedy and horror.

    At the same time, just as a straight up feminist, I think we shouldn’t fight back against the “chipping away” approach of the right by saying, “omg, your middle-class right to abort a less than perfect baby is going by the wayside, watch out!” is useful at all. It’s just another version of the “except rape or incest” clause. It’s like, “except rape, or incest, or imperfection”. It opens up another window of leering inspection: were you really raped? isn’t incest not the baby’s fault? how disabled is your baby, anyway? let’s make a chart of “kind of disabled babies” and “really disabled babies” and graph where your kid appears the better to instruct you as to exactly how you should therefore feel about it and how you should respond to it.

    It makes the whole thing all about “good babies” vs. “bad babies”, when we need unapologetically to maintain our defensive line at *women*.

    Otherwise, the debate becomes about society-at-large’s feelings regarding the fetus: ewww, it’s a rape-baby, an incest-baby, a subpar-baby. It’s absolutely true that none of those factors are the fault of fetuses, and any such “marked” fetus could grow up to Save The Universe (or whatever). That’s not the point, and the more we are debating there the more we’ve already given all the important ground away.

  26. Historiann on 10 Nov 2009 at 4:59 pm #

    Kathleen, I understand, and I mostly agree. I don’t think I or Bavardess were making the birth of a disabled child the bottom line for abortion rights. The important thing is who is making decisions on abortion, not their reasons. I’m an absolutist in that regard.

    We can talk about the many reasonable concerns raised by forced pregnancy without “giving all the important ground away.”

  27. Emma on 10 Nov 2009 at 5:18 pm #

    I thought that Democrats realized that their party is female-majority, and that a majority of those women are pro-choice, and that if women don’t show up to vote on election day that they’re SOL.

    I doubt very much that women will abandon the Democratic Party in sufficient numbers to make a difference.

    But I will be donating to Joe Lieberman to encourage him to filibuster this health care reform. Who cares if his reasons for wanting to wreck it are different than mine? If he has the ability to torpedo it, I’m on board.

  28. Bavardess on 10 Nov 2009 at 7:03 pm #

    Kathleen, as it was me who brought up the issue of disability, I thought I should clarify my point. First, I absolutely agree with you that any stance claiming abortion is ‘ok’ in certain circumstances but not in others is untenable. Personally, I support no-questions-asked abortion-on-demand. The reason I brought up the disability issue is it is because it is something I have personal experience of (through friends), but this argument of being forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term applies in any circumstances, regardless of the relative health of the fetus. Part of the point I was trying to make (although perhaps badly) is that pro-life advocates’ concern for the unborn child usually stops at the moment of birth. No one considers how the parents or society will support that child financially/practically and emotionally after birth, or what sort of life a child might experience when they are unwanted.

  29. Rosa on 10 Nov 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    I just wanted to add to the hyperemesis story – I was treated for an ectopic pregnancy a few years ago, and learned recently that the treatment was considered to be an abortion, under the medical useage you referred to.

    Now, I’m not sure how many women would choose nontreatment over debt, since ectopic pregnancy can kill you (though maybe once you start hemorrhaging, that’s covered?) and, if untreated, will definitely affect your fertility. But it’s a sobering thought.

  30. Kathleen Lowrey on 10 Nov 2009 at 9:39 pm #

    Historiann, I’m an “absolutist” in the same way (it’s up to the pregnant woman), and it’s 100% true (as Bavardess points out) that anti-choicers who claim to be horrified by selective abortion don’t lift a finger to advocate for disability-friendly policies; I suspect many parents would choose differently if they weren’t afraid for the future of a child with any kind of challenge in our sink-or-swim society! But pro-life advocates are not about expanding possibilities, only shrinking them.

  31. thefrogprincess on 10 Nov 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    Bavardess says:
    No one considers how the parents or society will support that child financially/practically and emotionally after birth, or what sort of life a child might experience when they are unwanted.

    Absolutely. Sometimes I feel as though social conservatives treat the world as they would like it to be, rather than as it is. It might be fantastic if women who had babies they didn’t want had all the financial, familial, and practical support in the world and bonded with their babies magically after birth, but the world does not work like that. I’m not completely personally comfortable with abortion b/c I grew up in a socially conservative world but I’m even less comfortable with forcing women to have babies they don’t want. I think there’s a reason they don’t want them and that has to be honored. Those who are concerned with life need to be concerned with the quality of life these children will experience. That quality will not be good if the parents shouldn’t be parents or don’t want to be.

  32. thefrogprincess on 10 Nov 2009 at 10:03 pm #

    Oh and a quick note to what Rosa said about ectopic pregnancies. My mother was extremely socially conservative and pro-life. I don’t think she considered abortion okay under any circumstance. At some point growing up, I learned about ectopic pregnancies, which terrified me b/c I thought ending one was an abortion, which was morally wrong and unacceptable. Even my archconservative mother quickly assured me that dealing with ectopic pregnancies weren’t abortions. She’s one of my gauges of conservatism and if this legislation is possibly going further than even she would, that’s saying something.

  33. Comrade PhysioProf on 11 Nov 2009 at 1:55 pm #

    How can crude laws serve people’s most intimate medical needs well, unless they affirm each woman’s Fourth Amendment right to privacy and bodily sovereignty?

    It is an unfortunate historical fact about our constitutional jurisprudence that these rights have been weakly grounded in a shitty “penumbral” theory instead of strongly in the Ninth Amendment’s clear embrace of the inviolability of unenumerated natural law rights. I have posted about this in the past at my place:

    http://physioprof.wordpress.com/2009/03/14/repost-constitutional-originalism-natural-law-and-the-ninth-amendment/

  34. Emma on 11 Nov 2009 at 4:08 pm #

    Or the 14th Amendment’s clear statement of equality.

  35. Saturday Round-up: Crybaby Ranch edition : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 10 Apr 2010 at 9:55 am #

    [...] neither.  Well, boo-friggin’-hoo, Congressman:  you got zero credit from the crazzies for all the precious little baby fetuses you pretented to care about.  And in spite of your bad hair and your Polish name, you apparently know nothing about [...]

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