This post is prompted by the recent passing of new legislation in regards to abortions. If you are sensitive to such materials, this is your fair warning not to read further!
Yesterday I heard a news story on NPR about Oklahoma's state congress overriding a gubernatorial veto on abortion laws. Brad Henry is a Democrat and I have voted for him twice. I couldn't imagine him being irrational enough to veto something that was reasonable and that would protect the rights of children. He is a father, a Christian, and I have agreed with him on about 90% of the decisions he has made for our state.
Looking for answers, I found a few news articles calling the legislation "strict," "ridiculous," and "a violation of women's right to privacy."
I must take a moment to let everyone know that I am pro-life. My stance comes not from my religious leanings, but from the miracle that is my son. When I was pregnant with him, some of the testing that indicates birth and other defects came back questionable. On ultrasound, he looked healthy, but the doctors and specialists said that could be misleading. The issues could be with his brain and how functional he would be after birth. My (then) husband and I were given statistics and percentages and then were asked what we planned to do as far as keeping the pregnancy.
By this time, we had gone through several rounds of blood tests, multiple ultrasounds, and were being asked if we wanted a procedure called CVS. We went home and talked, cried, screamed, considered and basically wore ourselves out over what to do. By dawn the next day, we knew what to do: we would follow through on the natural course and just see what happened. We would forego any further testing, aside from growth ultrasounds or maternal/fetal monitoring during labor.
Turns out, my water broke at 26 weeks gestation while on a mini-vacation in Texas. I was hospitalized until I was stable and then allowed to drive back to Tulsa where I went into the hospital with pProm and cervical dilation to 2 cm. Once again I was stabilized and my body held on to the pregnancy until 30 weeks, 3 days gestation. Our son was born weighing 3lbs 6 oz and measuring 16 3/4" long. He had respiratory distress, transient tachypnea of the newborn, jaundice and some other minor preemie issues. What he didn't have any signs of were mental or physical impairments. Later, he was diagnosed with mild hypertonia and has just in the past few years been able to overcome his muscle issues and run like a real boy.
By the way, he's almost 12. He's on the academic bowl team, plays a mean game of basketball, loves to play (and beat) video games that I can not even understand, and is going through his very first crush. He's normal, healthy (after some issues with asthma, that are barely even a blip now) and alive. When I was given the option to terminate, I was also given the option of not terminating. We saw him on ultrasound; we heard his heart beating. We knew the life that was in him.
My fear for women getting abortions is that they will not be afforded the same opportunity. Costs are high and over half of the abortions performed in the United States are for women who are low-income. Will those women be allowed to have an ultrasound because someone else, like Planned Parenthood, is paying the bill? How many abortions could these places do in a year and still be financially viable if they have to give ultrasounds to every woman? Would a state law ensuring an ultrasound to every woman seeking an abortion drive the abortion clinics into financial ruin?
The short answer is, I don't really give a crap about the financial gain of the abortion clinics or doctors. But the reality is, if they aren't there to perform the abortions, desperate women would seek back-alley abortions and not only kill their babies but possibly even themselves. I've known a couple of older women who got illegal abortions before the time of Roe v. Wade, and their experiences were scarring and not just in the physical sense. Of the women I know who have gotten abortions, most were not overly traumatized by the procedure itself, when performed in a clinic by a clinician and staff trained and licensed to perform abortions.
I also know a few women who have gotten legal abortions and they say that if they had been able to see the baby on ultrasound, they would have reconsidered. One of these women did reconsider and has a beautiful five-year-old son. Sure, there are those of you out there who would not have changed your mind and are comfortable with the decision you made. But the more I talk to women who have undergone an abortive procedure, the more I get the feeling that society, rather than self, was the motivating factor in their decision. Also, it seems that women who get or contemplate abortions try to separate themselves and life from the baby they are carrying. One woman I spoke to told me that she didn't kill a baby; she had only gotten rid of "tissues of pregnancy" and "she couldn't afford a baby and all the things a baby needs" and she would not ever regret the abortion.
The law, as it stands, is not appealing to me simply because it is so very restrictive. I would like to see ultrasounds offered and given. I don't want to see women forced to shame over trying to seek medical advice or procedures and I do not ever wish to completely outlaw abortions (see above). My concern, though, is for that unborn child, the one that doesn't get a say in any of this. That unborn child who doesn't need $300 car seats or expensive outfits and toys. Babies do require a certain amount of money to raise; believe me, I know, as I have seven of my own! But our society makes women believe that without certain advantages, babies are too costly and women just aren't ready.
There are over 1 million abortions performed in this country annually. If an ultrasound, given but not forced, saved 1% of those babies, the benefits would outweigh the costs infinity- fold. You certainly can not put a price on human life.