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Hullabaloo


Sunday, May 31, 2009

 
They Cannot Know

by digby


I just want to give a rousing "shove it" to all the right wing jackasses who have absolutely no sympathy for women and their loved ones who are faced with the horrible prospect of a life threatening delivery of a fetus that is destined for an extremely short, brutal, painful life. These strangers have decided that they have a right to dictate what people must do in the most gut wrenching, complicated situations with which any human being can be confronted. Who do these people think they are?

I've heard a lot of people saying recently that the abortion debate has changed because now that people can see the cute little baby inside the woman's body with the ultrasound we feel the humanity of it. Perhaps that's true. But that same technology also allows us to see the heartbreaking, doomed baby in the third trimester and we know that it will put the mother's life and health at risk to carry that pregnancy to term. For all the joy that the ultrasound brings to the happily expectant parent, nothing could be worse that the horrifying news that a late term ultrasound shows a fatal birth defect. This technology goes both ways.

From Talk Left, we have a testimonial from someone who went through this:

In 1994 my wife and I found out that she was pregnant. The pregnancy was difficult and unusually uncomfortable but her doctor repeatedly told her things were fine. Sometime early in the 8th month my wife, an RN who at the time was working in an infertility clinic asked the Dr. she was working for what he thought of her discomfort. He examined her and said that he couldn’t be certain but thought that she might be having twins. We were thrilled and couldn’t wait to get a new sonogram that hopefully would confirm his thoughts. Two days later our joy was turned to unspeakable sadness when the new sonogram showed conjoined twins. Conjoined twins alone is not what was so difficult but the way they were joined meant that at best only one child would survive the surgery to separate them and the survivor would more than likely live a brief and painful life filled with surgery and organ transplants. We were advised that our options were to deliver into the world a child who’s life would be filled with horrible pain and suffering or fly out to Wichita Kansas and to terminate the pregnancy under the direction of Dr. George Tiller.

We made an informed decision to go to Kansas. One can only imagine the pain borne by a woman who happily carries a child for 8 months only to find out near the end of term that the children were not to be and that she had to make the decision to terminate the pregnancy and go against everything she had been taught to believe was right. This was what my wife had to do. Dr. Tiller is a true American hero. The nightmare of our decision and the aftermath was only made bearable by the warmth and compassion of Dr. Tiller and his remarkable staff. Dr. Tiller understood that this decision was the most difficult thing that a woman could ever decide and he took the time to educate us and guide us along with the other two couples who at the time were being forced to make the same decision after discovering that they too were carrying children impacted by horrible fetal anomalies. I could describe in great detail the procedures and the pain and suffering that everyone is subjected to in these situations. However, that is not the point of the post. We can all imagine that this is not something that we would wish on anyone. The point is that the pain and suffering were only mitigated by the compassion and competence of Dr. George Tiller and his staff. We are all diminished today for a host of reasons but most of all because a man of great compassion and courage has been lost to the world.


People always act like this issue is simple. But pregnancy is one situation in life that falls across all kinds of moral, emotional and rational lines, calling into question the autonomy of the very body in which we live and lifelong commitments made in the heat of the moment --- painful choices and primitive imperatives in the most basic human drive we have. Whether it's the idea that women should be "punished" with pregnancy for failing to use birth control, to the idea that adoption is a simple and painless alternative, to the insistence that women who carry a child for seven or eight months must be forced to give birth when the child has no chance at life to the spectacle of the Octamom, the fact is that there is no broad brush answer that can be applied to all these different circumstances. Certainly, the crude instrument of the law isn't the answer as even the anti-choicers tacitly admit when they refuse to consider the women who have abortions murderers and instead focus on the doctors.

Indeed, the murder of Dr Tiller in a demented defense of a "culture of life" should be all it takes for everyone to see that this is not the simple, straightforward issue they'd like to believe it is. And once you recognize that it's a unique circumstance in which the moral boundaries are blurry and indistinct, the only possible course is to trust the person with the most knowledge of the circumstances, the symbiotic relationship to the fetus and greatest stake in the outcome --- the woman.


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