Thursday, July 18, 2013

Let's Get Estrogen In On This

I don't fault men for taking a stand one way or another on the issue of abortion.  We have some say in the matter since we take an active part in the process of procreation.  But because we don't get the physical mementos of stretch marks, or episiotomy scars, I suggest men walk lightly around the issue.  Women do more of the leg work - physically, emotionally, and psychologically - when it comes to pregnancy; And for that, men shouldn't be so cavalier, and shortsighted when they chime in on reproductive rights.
A letter that appeared in the LMT today:
To the editor,
Years ago, I had the pleasure of taking a national government class with Arturo Nava at Laredo Community College.
To be honest, it was Professor Nava who will always hold a special place in my heart as a man who opened my eyes to politics, our government, as well as issues that dominate debate among Americans across this country.
Every class with Nava would begin with a good morning and a discussion of current events that were most scrutinized in all our media outlets.
During one of those discussions, the topic of abortion came up, and Mr. Nava asked the class a question that once answered, would settle the abortion debate as both sides know it.
To this day, no one has been able to give a straight answer.
The question: When does life begin?
David R. Vasquez

I'm not sure if I should fault Professor Nava for trying to tackle abortion with one question.  A lot could've been discussed in class.  But if Mr. Vasquez's memory serves right, and this is exactly how the situation unfolded, then Mr. Nava should be ashamed of himself, and Mr. Vasquez too, for taking such a myopic approach to abortion.  If this is how we're going to unscramble to challenges of the day, then I don't hold much hope for the future.

For a moment, let's put aside women's privacy, control over their own bodies, rape, incest, domestic abuse, the woman's health, financial responsibilities, the physical toll of pregnancy, access to medical care, access to family planning, social expectations, social stigma, circle of support, care of the child, and whatever else you can think of, and let's just focus on abortion as if it hinged solely on the question of when life begins.

Many will say that life begins at conception.  This argument is popular, especially in North Dakota, where a personhood amendment will be voted on next year.  The bill, if passed, would give embryos rights, and outlaw abortion under any circumstances.  In Mississippi, such a measure was voted down.  There, birth control would've been banned if the personhood law was passed. 

If life begins at conception, does it matter that the heart doesn't start beating until approximately the third week of gestation?  Does it matter that a doctor won't be able to hear the heart beating until late in the first trimester? 

Death, or the end of life, depends so much on heart or brain function.  Legally, my family would be off the hook if I was ruled brain dead.  They could pull the plug and face no repercussions.  Likewise for the beginning of life, you could make the case that it begins when brain activity starts, but then what is to be said about quality of life?  If you were paralyzed from the neck down and supported by mechanical ventilation, would you consider that life?

In Texas legal speak, a fetus is referred to as a woman's "body part."  And because it is not viewed as a person, people can't sue a hospital or staff for negligence when a fetus dies.  Family can sue for the death of the mother, but not for the death of fetus(es).  If a fetus is not considered a person for the sake of legal protection, then any personhood amendment, which offers that life begins at conception, is indefensible.

How can Texas have different reactions to life in the womb?

Interestingly, by not considering fetuses people, health care institutions are not held to a higher standard.  Yet the recent anti-abortion bill, signed by Rick Perry, purports to raise the standards of clinics that provide abortions by requiring them to be on par with surgical centers.

We can't settle the issue of abortion by stating when life begins when so many people have different interpretations of life itself. 

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