Letters to the Editor
December 6, 2021
Well, here I am again–outraged by happenings in our country but also feeling a bit mopey this time. Like crawl in my bed, tired of dealing with this shit mopey.
My thoughts have been running rampant since Wednesday’s Supreme Court hearing. I have been unwilling to believe that the threat of Roe v. Wade being overturned was real, even given the change in the Supreme Court makeup. However, not only is it a very real possibility, it seems increasingly more a probability that the right to an abortion elaborated in Roe, and confirmed again by Casey vs Planned Parenthood, is coming to an end. If not entirely, it will be changed so dramatically to make the right irrelevant for a large swath of Americans.
While the percentages quoted vary, a large majority of Americans support a woman’s right to an abortion, overwhelmingly so. That said, I am willing to bet that a very large number of Americans have given little to no thought what a post-Roe society would look like. Why would they?
I am 63. In my “reproductive” lifetime, I have only known legal contraception and legal abortions. This is true for the three reproductive generations after me. It has been a given. It has been unquestioned by a majority of Americans that a woman has the right to make decisions regarding her body and her very personhood. This includes the right to determine whether or when to become pregnant and whether to remain pregnant and carry a baby to term.
The line of questioning and comments made by the conservative justices on Wednesday were preposterous and maddening. Why not allow 15 weeks to be the new norm? (Because it is based on nothing scientific, such as age of viability, so what’s to prevent the new suggested norm from being 12 weeks? Ten weeks? Or six weeks, as Texas is now legislating?) What’s the harm in continuing the pregnancy and then relinquishing the baby either to adoption or to a fire or police station? (Honestly?! If they don’t understand the harm in carrying a baby to term against one’s will, I’m not sure I can explain it to them.) Last, as a country formed on the ideals of liberty and religious freedom, how is it at all proper and legal to force the opinions of a religious minority onto all? After all, there is no firm definitive answer, scientific or religious, as to when life begins.
That does not even begin to address the anguish that parents of a very wanted baby will be made to feel when they hear, often at their 20-week checkup, that their baby will not survive or will survive but will suffer from fetal anomalies. Imagine spending the next four months, knowing what you know, being congratulated, asked questions about your baby, watching your belly grow. It is absolutely heartbreaking!
And, please, let’s be very clear that this is not a total ban on abortions. Wealthy women will always be able to travel to another state or country if an abortion is what they desire. It may be inconvenient. It may be costly. But it will remain an option. This ban will affect those who can least afford it, whether monetarily or mentally. It will absolutely disproportionately affect the young, the poor, the BIPOC [Black, Indigenous, People of Color] among us. And it will always, always, always, be the woman who must deal with the pregnancy, no matter how supportive her male partner may be.
Yesterday I spent my day as a volunteer at a women’s health facility, as I regularly do, providing patient support to women seeking abortions. Among them were women there due to failed contraception, women who were already moms and understand the joy and the work surrounding parenthood, and women who had made a decision that was simply best for her, her family, her situation, her life.
Who are we to put more value on a potential life than the living, breathing, existing life right before us? This is what makes me outraged and mopey because I have supported my share of “anti-choice in theory” patients who change their minds when it’s no longer theoretical and abstract but their own lives that are affected. I take a moment to remind them how lucky they are to have that choice available to them. Sadly, I’m not so sure that will remain true for all.