Monday, October 22, 2012

Death panels

My father and grandmother love to talk about Obama’s death panels. Because no matter how false something is – the more you repeat it, the more true it becomes. That’s science, folks.

But I read a recent Washington Post pinocchio piece about Romney’s abortion stance – not that Romney himself knows where he stands on the issue (for the record, as late as 2011 he claimed he’d sign a personhood amendment which would ban ALL abortion, no matter the situation, and would make in vitro fertilization illegal) – and it got me thinking.

Lately, we’ve heard a kinder, more pander-to-the-women-so-I-can-get-their-votes-and-then-steal-their-rights Romney claiming that he’s against abortion except in cases of rape, incest and risk to the mother’s life. How sweet of him to throw us a bone (after tying us to the roof), right? After all, those cases make the abortion “necessary.” That cuts out all those sluts out there who are using it as birth control or just having abortions for fun.

But it begs the question – necessary according to whom?

Aside from the old adage about giving an inch leading to them taking a mile, there are valid reasons why an “only when I say so” approach to abortion access just can’t work.

The biggest problem with putting restrictions on access to abortion – as we found out from Todd “Legitimate Rape” Akin – is that someone is always going to come up with varying degrees of things. Abortion is illegal except in the case of rape – well okay, but was she *really* raped, or was she kind of asking for it, ifyouknowwhatImean? How in danger is her life? Is there only a 60% chance she’ll die if the ectopic pregnancy continues? Is that enough of a risk? What if she’ll go blind if the pregnancy continues? Is a threat to her way of life enough?

Someone has to decide these things. You want to talk about death panels? Here’s your chance.

When you start qualifying a woman’s rights, you put her in the position not only of having to justify her decisions, but having to justify them to someone in order to access her rights. Will it be doctors making the decisions? Certainly representatives who would legally mandate invasive transvaginal ultrasounds despite a complete lack of medical training aren’t likely to fully leave that decision up to doctors.

And even if it is doctors, Congress is already trying to pit doctors against their patients. The failed Prenatal Discrimination Act (PRENDA) would have prosecuted providers for performing these imaginary sex-selective abortions. Doctors are going to be at risk of prosecution for doing their jobs and could be forced to err on the side of saving their own careers/lives rather than saving the lives of their patients.

Imagine a situation where a woman develops preeclampsia – high blood pressure and increased protein in the uterine lining, generally around 20 weeks – a condition that can cause liver and kidney failure, seizures and death. If the doctor recommends an abortion to save the mother’s life and some panel of Republicans somewhere finds that the risk wasn’t “enough” – that doctor could be prosecuted and face jail time. If the doctor bites his or her tongue, maybe the woman lives and maybe she dies, but hey, at least if she dies, Rep. Joe Walsh feels morally good about it. Even if the woman's other 3 children don’t.

And what about if it’s a mental health issue? If a woman expresses suicidal ideation as a result of a financially-impossible pregnancy, is that enough of a risk to her life? Or should she just be jailed until she gives birth? Maybe her therapist should be jailed for not breaking patient-client privacy laws and notifying a Republican.

Even these three “concessions” the anti-choicers are generally willing to throw us are not guaranteed. We cannot cede ground and we cannot pretend that these are enough, because even these three “exceptions” put thousands of women in danger every year.

Access to abortion has to be without limitation, and without stigma. You are more than welcome to feel however you want about when life begins, but you shouldn’t even have a RIGHT TO KNOW when a woman is making a personal decision about her own private medical care. It’s just none of your business. No amount of Bible-thumping can change that.

I heard a great quote recently about how to decide if something is sexist – ask yourself, “do men have to do this?” If the answer is no, it’s likely sexist.

Well, do men have to publicly justify personal medical decisions – say, taking Viagra – to their elected representatives, the Internet and Rush Limbaugh? No? Well then neither should I. Get out of my health care, Republicans; I’m still an American citizen and you cannot have my legal rights.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks - election season gets me all riled up, apparently... :)

  2. I second that HeatherRose, very well said. There are consequences to every choice that we make for ourselves in life and we must live with those choices. No gender should be able to make a choice over another as no race should have the right to make choices for another. Also, i like you riled up, you cover all sides and make things clear for us, the readers. :-)