Wednesday, September 05, 2012

The Making of a Republican: Abortion and Me

It doesn't really come in chronological order.  My position on abortion has moved around a lot in my life.  When I was growing up abortion was a non -issue.  It was illegal and nobody really wanted to change it.  Heck, birth control was illegal in some states.  But then, in the 60's and 70's, with radical social change sweeping around the world and across the nation, people did try to bring the issue of abortion out of the back alleys and the illegal abortion dens.  And I encouraged it and was in favor of it.  In those days, in the 60's, being pregnant out of wedlock was a big shame.  Lots of people were having sex out of wedlock and no one tried to hide that fact, but getting pregnant, not cool.

But then I married and I tried to get pregnant and it took me a year to get a positive test.  Back then, medical people thought I was a little old to be getting pregnant.  I was 27 when my daughter Elizabeth was born.  And that experience changed me and my position on abortion.  Before I was pregnant I was willing to mouth approval of abortion any time before the baby was born.  Having experienced the actual fact, I knew that there was a new person growing inside of me.  That is just an undeniable fact.

We have become so disconnected from our own bodies and our own animal nature that we have a hard time with the undeniable reality of the reproductive process.  As strange as it seems, and sometimes it does seem strange, there is another person growing inside of you.  And that person has a personality even before he/she is born. Some babies move a lot.  Some are relatively quiet.  Some even seem to respond to touching your abdomen.  And just when you think that you know all about pregnancy and small babies because you have had one, you get pregnant again and the second one is different from the first.

And, while a fetus has a heart beat by the time it is three or four months along, we don't treat an early miscarriage as the loss of a person.  We don't.  In fact a fairly high percentage of babies spontaneously abort in the first trimester.  So, like the vast majority of the American people, my position on abortion is squishy.  While I believe that every pregnancy is a gift of new life from God, I am not willing to impose that belief in the first trimester of pregnancy.  Our social mores and the statistics both tell us that the baby isn't really fully formed yet.

Being something of a libertarian, I believe that people should be able to make their own decisions about health care and certainly women should.  But when pregnancy is involved, there is another life.  That is irrefutably true.  It is ancient.  It is what happens in the mammal world.  We carry new life within us. At some point, that life also has a right to exist.

While I believe that parents have the right to make almost all decisions for their children, that right does not extend to killing them.  It does not extend to causing physical or severe psychiatric harm to them.  (And I mean severe.  Every parent is viewed by his or her child of causing some psychiatric harm.  )  And the ineluctable fact is that by the time a woman is 6 months and maybe even 5 months pregnant, that life is capable of surviving outside of her body.

So I come down on the side of Roe v. Wade.  The dividing line is the viability of the baby.  Can the baby survive outside the mother?  And, thanks to great advances in neonatal care, the answer is yes earlier and earlier.

But what if a woman doesn't want to be pregnant?  The answer is simple, get an abortion earlier then.
But what about saving the life of the mother?  I absolutely agree that terminating a pregnancy must be an option when the mother's life is at risk.  The problem is that, once you are past 26 weeks, or even 22 weeks, terminating the pregnancy means having an emergency C section because that is the fastest way to terminate a pregnancy after 22 weeks.  T

So what is the difference between terminating a pregnancy and having an abortion?  Terminating a pregnancy is just that, removing the baby from the uterus.  The fastest way to get the baby out of the mother's body is to perform a C-Section.  The other alternative is to induce labor.  There is some controversy over which method is best, although C-section tends to be the prevalent way of delivering babies early.  Either way, the only difference between terminating a pregnancy and abortion is the necessity of killing the baby before it is removed if you want to call it an abortion.  That's reality.

If, like Camille Paglia, you think that is okay, at least be honest about it.  Late term abortions are NEVER necessary to save the life of the mother.  Late term terminations may be, but babies born after 26 weeks gestation, upon removal by C section or induced birth, tend to live.

So late term abortion is really  first kill the baby then deliver it.  Doesn't it take longer to  deliver if you have to kill the baby first?   REally?

So what about all those babies who are born to mothers who don't want them.  Well, actually in this country there are not many.  And those babies are just about 100 percent wanted by someone else.  

Does the birth mom suffer because she knows there is a child of hers in the world that she has given away?  Undoubtedly, but she has the consolation of knowing that her baby is alive and most likely having a happy life with another set of parents who really wanted him or her.  Steve Jobs was adopted. Would the world be better off without him?  I don't think so.

But the point is beyond morality when that baby is sufficiently formed to live apart from the mother.  The facts of late term abortion are, that what the mother is doing in choosing a late term abortion is not to her own body, but to the body of the person who has been growing inside her.   She is choosing to have someone kill it so that she will not be burdened with a living baby after it is removed.  That is the hard fact. Because if all she did was elect to have the baby removed from her body, in a late term procedure, the baby would almost certainly be born alive with a fairly high chance of survival.  That's the reality..  So, I would be fine with allowing the mother to terminate the pregnancy if she so chose. But not to terminate the life within her.  There is a huge difference.  If she terminates the pregnancy early the mere decision to terminate ends that life.  But in a late term abortion, it does not. The fetus must be killed.  And that is someone deciding that someone else, in this case her own child, is not entitled to live.

And what does that have to do with the making of a Republican, I believe the Democrat platform and support of late term abortion is wrong, very wrong.  And that, apparently, makes me a Republican.

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