Monday, January 23, 2006

What Kind of America Is This?

Liz from I Speak of Dreams alerted me to Blog for Choice Day, a call to, and I paraphrase, flood the blogosphere with pro-choice posts on January 22nd, the 33th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.

Initially I wasn't going to post anything because I have little to add to the discussion. As long as it's accepted [to my dismay] that politicians, government bureaucrats, and lawyers, in consultation with assorted power-hungry fundamentalists, get to decide what happens to a patient's internal organs, I think the battle has already been lost.

Furthermore, while the various efforts--marches, petitions, public statements, blog posts--to raise public awareness of the issues at hand by people who think female patients should be allowed to make their own medical decisions are commendable, I don't think they are very effective. Granted, the enormity of the negative impact of female patients losing the ability to have a say in what happens to their health and their life is difficult to convey in the abstract. Difficult, but not impossible. For example, here's a more realistic alternative. Regardless of your gender, beliefs, thirst for power, etc., next time you have to consent to a medical procedure, 1) refuse to sign the consent, and 2) insist that your doctor only perform the procedure after contacting your local politician and securing his/her permission. This should help put some things in perspective. As would complications from a septic abortion--the great clarifier. But I digress.

Let me just leave you with this. Based on historical data, the most likely scenario is this. Once the State prohibits legal elective abortion, there will be a short-lived decrease in the number of legal abortions. The number of all abortions will then increase dramatically, eventually stabilizing at the higher level. This will happen via an increase in both the number of illegal abortions, as well as "spontaneous" abortions. ["Spontaneous" as in, for those fortunate enough to have resources/access there will be an unobtrusive, private meeting with a medical professional where certain meds will be administered, followed by the official ER visit, and a totally legal and respectable diagnosis of "spontaneous" abortion.]

In order to insure that female patients of reproductive age do not make their own medical decisions, the State will need to police this patient population, and, ironically, some of their partners. Here's the enforcement model:

[T]he legal age for marriage was lowered to fifteen years for women, and additional taxes were levied on childless individuals over twenty-five years of age. Monthly gynecological examinations for all women of childbearing age were instituted, even for pubescent girls, to identify pregnancies in the earliest stages and to monitor pregnant women to ensure that their pregnancies came to term. Miscarriages were to be investigated and illegal abortions prosecuted, resulting in prison terms of one year for the women concerned and up to five years for doctors and other medical personnel performing the procedure. Doctors and nurses involved in gynecology came under increasing pressure, especially after 1985, when "demographic command units" were set up to ensure that all women were gynecologically examined at their place of work. These units not only monitored pregnancies and ensured deliveries but also investigated childless women and couples, asked detailed questions about their sex lives and the general health of their reproductive systems, and recommended treatment for infertility.


Bottom line: Even the Communists, the garbage stuck to the bottom of humanity's drain, never pretended that prohibiting women to make their own medical decisions was anything other than a coerced sacrifice to the altar of state ideology. If, in today's America, we reach a point where not only are female patients, and their families, subject to communist policies, but the policies are implemented under the guise of noble intentions and consequences [not only is the loss of control over your internal organs for your own good and you must accept it, you must also appreciate, and be thankful for, it], one must ask: What kind of America is this?

5 Comments:

At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Crispy said...

Comparing Ceausescu's experiment in increasing population with the United States debate between pro-life and pro-choice is interesting, but is an apples-to-Volkswagens comparison.
The pro-life position is that the unborn child is a distinct person and entitled to his/her life. This position differs from pro-choice only in the schedule at which the right to life is granted to a person. Romania (and the communist world) started from the axiom that the individual and his/her life is the property of the state. It was therefore consistent for them to use coercive methods to achieve the population growth the central government had decided upon.
As for lowering the legal age for marriage to 15 years, Planned Parenthood seems more aligned with Romania than the "power hungry fundamentalists."

 
At 1:05 AM, Blogger ema said...

Comparing Ceausescu's experiment in increasing population with the United States debate between pro-life and pro-choice is interesting, but is an apples-to-Volkswagens comparison.

Heh, apples-to-Volkswagens, I like that.

I'm not comparing his experiment with the US debate. I'm a) offering an historically educated guess about abx trends post-prohibition, and b) pointing out that the Communists, masters of propaganda, were never deceptive about the reasons behind the policies.

Allow me to offer an example: person supports forbidding women to make their own medical decisions because she's "pro-life". What could be more noble and commendable? Except, the use of the term "pro-life" is propaganda. Since [early, legal] termination is associated with a lower risk of death vs. pregnancy, forcing a woman to carry a pregnancy to term is not, in fact, "pro-life", but rather "pro-death".

The pro-life position is that the unborn child is a distinct person and entitled to his/her life. This position differs from pro-choice only in the schedule at which the right to life is granted to a person.

Individual beliefs as to the personhood of the products of conception, and/or the life-granting schedule are not the problem. The problem [and main difference] is one group's insistence on forcing patients to make medical decisions based on someone else's personal beliefs.

Romania (and the communist world) started from the axiom that the individual and his/her life is the property of the state.

My contention is that, as long as politicians, etc. are the ones making medical decisions for individuals, the axiom applies here as well.

As for lowering the legal age for marriage to 15 years, Planned Parenthood seems more aligned with Romania than the "power hungry fundamentalists."

A couple of points. PP is a private enterprise. It has no power to pass/enforce harmful legislation, and thus is irrelevant. A better example would be this one--Kansas [the State] has laws permitting 12 yo to marry.

 
At 3:23 PM, Anonymous Crispy said...

Thank you for responding!

Your "historically educated guess about abx trends post-prohibition" is based on the regime of a communist dictator. I hope you never have to find out the difference between that and our system (however flawed) first hand!

Regarding terms and propaganda, the following propagandistic terms have been used in our discussion:
pro-life
pro-choice
pro-death
termination
medical decision
My point is that each of these terms has connotation in addition to its denotative meaning. Rather than complain that the term "pro-life" is propaganda, accept that the term is used to denote a certain group of people, just as "pro-choice" denotes another (not necessarily mutually exclusive) group of people.

Individual beliefs as to the personhood of the products of conception, and/or the life-granting schedule are not the problem.

Actually, that is the root of the problem! The only "medical decision" at issue is one which causes the death of the "product of conception". No one is talking about preventing women from getting tummy-tucks, hysterectomies, nose-jobs or any other medical decision. The problem with the abortion "medical decision" is that two "products of conception" enter the clinic, but only one comes out. Therefore the "life granting schedule" is the crux of the issue.

In the U.S., the issue is framed as the conflict of rights: the mother's right to her body and freedom, and the child's right to life. This is vastly different from the Ceau┼čescu approach in which no citizen had any rights.

My contention is that, as long as politicians, etc. are the ones making medical decisions for individuals, the axiom applies here as well.

I understand your point. If we were discussing any other "medical decision", there would be little room for debate. Many of a society's laws relate to balancing rights in opposition, such as a person's right to get rich vs another's right to keep possessions, hence laws on theft, burglary, and fraud. As there is at least a case to be made that the "product of conception" has a right to life, there is similarly a case to be made for protecting that right.

In summary, comparing a hypothetical United States (with abortion outlawed) to a historical third world communist dictatorship which also happened to outlaw abortion is misleading-- there is a vast difference in goals, philosophies, and values. The divisiveness over pre-natal law (not only regarding abortion) is due to the dissonance between law, which requires clear-cut distinctions, and nature, which gradually takes a human being from zygote to adult.

 
At 11:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the problem is, you imbue the "products of conception" with humanity at all stages. It's human tissue, of course. And alive. But then so is that tummy-tissue and so is my uterus. It's human, and living tissue.

What makes a human being - what grants living human tissue personhood? At the earliest stages it isn't clear, that is, a done deal, that the zygote is even capable of developing into an individual or group of individuals.
Most pregancies fail naturally, and a large portion of them because the wastage rate of embryo's is sky high, a large portion of them being defective.

A human being has the capacity to think and feel. Assume the unborn individual has reached a stage where it has the capacity to think and feel. The mother's right to end service as a life support machine must trump always.

A woman has a right to stop being pregnant, whenever it is safer for her to do so. Which, right now, is always. Only when the infant can clearly survive without being hooked up to the mother is the mother's right to end that life encroached. Other's can take up the baton and support the life.

Her flesh is not at stake any longer.

I can not be compelled to give an spare organ to my child. If I volunteered to be hooked up to my born and living child so that he could use my own kidneys and heart for life support, I could walk away from that deal at any
time.

Why should pregnancy be different? When there is no thinking, feeling being at stake, obviously I have full power to control my own health risks.

 
At 3:34 PM, Blogger Grace said...

Actually, plenty of other medical decisions are at stake. Like the decision to take birth control. And the need for a medically indicated D & C after a spontaneous abortion - a procedure before which women who are mourning the ends of wanted pregnancies in some states have to sit and watch an anti-abortion video.

It's not about the babies. It's about controlling women and inserting the state into personal, medical decisions.

 

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