Losing Ground

Losing Ground

by digby

Charles Blow's column in today's NY Times shows that the war against a woman's right to own her own body is taking its toll. We are losing this debate.

I suspect that some of this is due to the social changes that allow women to be single mothers, which back in the day was a cause for shame and ostracization. There's some progress in that, to be sure, and something that pro-choice advocates have always supported. But it certainly doesn't provide any basis for the belief that abortion should now be outlawed. Millions of women each year have reason to have abortions even in this more tolerant environment and they aren't fools who need to be lectured to by the likes of social conservatives like Kathleen Parker about the meaning of their decision.

Here's an example of the kind of real life situations that women and their families find themselves in every day -- situations which these busy body zealots who infantilize women can't imagine since they think that women who have abortions are either hard partying sluts who can't be bothered with birth control or mentally deficient dumb animals who need to be shown pictures of zygotes so they can understand what pregnancy means:

Editor's note: State Rep. Scott Randolph, D-Orlando, made the following remarks Friday on the House floor shortly before passage of HB 1143. The bill, which is now headed to the governor's desk, would require all women seeking an abortion to submit to an ultrasound. In nearly all cases, medical personnel would be required to orally describe to the woman the ultrasound image before her abortion is performed.

Members, I like to paraphrase Pedro and say that there is no crying in lawmaking. But I'll try to make it brief today. This amendment is so shortsighted as to be blind. You imagine that this only affects those wishing to terminate the pregnancy for no other reason than because it is their legally protected right to choose what to do with their body. But members, this affects every pregnant woman, including those that are losing their baby because of other reasons.

Last January my wife and I went to the doctor and we had our first ultrasound. At first we thought, 'This is fantastic.' It was just us and the (ultrasound) technician. At first everything looked fine. And all of a sudden, there were three doctors in the room. They tell us, 'The measurements say this fetus has a genetic abnormality.' We go to the next doctor; we get a second opinion, a third opinion. We're told, this fetus is going to die. We don't know if it's two weeks left. The heart will stop beating in eight more weeks, 10 more weeks. It could be there for six months. We are asked, do you terminate the pregnancy now, or do you refuse, and naturally miscarry at some point in time?

We've seen three ultrasounds already at this point. And you act like this ultrasound machine is in another room, that you walk out into and go, oh, there it is. Actually, that ultrasound machine is right next to that bed, where my wife is laying, looking at this fetus. And she's starting to cry. And she asks that that ultrasound machine be turned in the other direction because she can't see it anymore. But this bill right here is saying "no, we're going to demand one more time when you go in to finally terminate that fetus — because God and nature told you 'not this time,' that you be forced to see that screen, or you be told what's on that screen, and that you demand it be turned away, but you're still going to have to listen to the description of what's still there. Members, this is something we're about to do to women in this state.

But we're not alone. Statistics show that about 25 percent of pregnancies are terminated naturally by God and nature. With today's medical care, women don't have to wait for the mother to keep a dying fetus inside their womb until it finally terminates on its own, or it finally miscarries by nature. So my wife and my sister are not alone. There are thousands and thousands of women that will be in the same position.

There are thousands and thousands of women who will be in that same position after this bill passes.

We knew the facts — we knew the heart chamber was slowly filling with fluid; we knew the facts — we didn't need to be told that the fetus was slowly dying inside my wife's womb. So don't stand there and talk about facts.

Members, we constantly hear that this chamber is all about small government. The only thing this body has proven in the last six years is how this Legislature defines small government — six years ago this Legislature wanted government so small that it could fit down a tube into an individual woman's throat named Terri Schiavo; this decade we have shown time and again that you want government so small that it can fit under someone's bedroom door; and members, this year you are showing that you want government so small that it could fit between a woman's leg and into her uterus. It's not the small government that anyone wants.

I know that I have changed no one's vote today because this body is controlled more by ideology than empathy. But I tell my story today because I want you to go home tonight and when you are by yourself and you have closed your eyes to sleep that your mind is filled with the personal pain you have brought to my wife, my sister and the thousands and thousands of women who want nothing more than to have the baby that is growing inside of them, but that unfortunately, God, nature and fate have chosen that it will not happen at that time. When you close your eyes every night, I want you to see their faces and their pain and the trauma you have personally brought them.

They won't see their faces. And they don't care. On some level they must realize that each decision to have an abortion is unique, every person with a different set of details, there can be no legal framework that doesn't cause these kinds of tragedies and many more. They simply want to use the blunt instrument of the law to make a sweeping moral judgment about issues which are so intimate and personal that the only way they can accomplish this is to demand that doctors and nurses use medical instruments to physically probe a woman's body to make a moral point. It's medieval.

But then we seem to be embracing the medieval in so many ways in our culture these days, so I suppose it isn't all that shocking in itself. Maybe the teabaggers are right. If things like this and the Arizona immigration law and the taser killings and Gitmo and all the rest just continue apace, I'll be hard pressed to argue that it really is their country and they're taking it back.

h/t to bb