Things are still going on with HR3 (they dropped the bit about “forcible” rape and left all the other badness intact) and HR 358 is even worse. HR 358 protects doctors who don’t want to perform abortions (yet decided that obstetrics was a good career choice anyway), if they decide to let a woman suffer serious complications or die. You know, in any other field, when people are injured or die because you chose not to do your job, you get fired or sued, probably both. But doctors, who take a fricking *oath* to help people, somehow get a free pass when they choose not to do that. And in cases where the choice is abort the fetus or let the mother and the fetus both die, somehow two deaths are seen as the “moral” choice. Like the hospital that lost its Catholic status and had the nun who heads its ethics committee excommunicated because they saved the life of a woman who was 11 weeks pregnant. On what magical sci-fi planet are these church leaders living that they think an 11-week fetus is going to survive the death of the mother, or that someone too sick to be moved to another hospital is going to somehow make it another couple months so the fetus has a (slim) shot?
One of the things that made it clear to me that women need to be able to end pregnancies was when I actually started getting treatment for my anxiety. Lexapro has been a godsend for me. I still have the occasional panic attack, but the general inclination to worry obsessively about everything ever has subsided. And usually I have enough time before full-out crying and hyperventillating meltdown to notice what’s happening, step back, and do some sort of relaxation exercise to prevent a full scale panic episode. Which is really nice, because they suck.
So, what does this have to do with abortion? Well, Lexapro causes birth defects. So I’m really really not supposed to get pregnant. When the husband and I decide we’re ready to reproduce, I’ll wean off the Lexapro gradually before going off birth control.
This was the first time that I had an inkling of how, even married and with a good job, pregnancy could be a really problematic condition. I coped with anxiety most of my life without pharmaceutical help; I could probably do it again if I absolutely had to. It’s kind of a scary thought, and it’s one of the reasons that the hubby and I have put off the kid thing for so long. But learning about mental illness also helped me understand that the crossed wires in my head are *mild* compared to what a lot of people deal with. I’ve never wanted to kill myself. I don’t have panic attacks for no reason, or ones that I don’t fully recover from for days. Plenty of people have those issues. For plenty of women, an unintended pregnancy would mean they have to choose between going off sanity-restoring meds or risking serious birth defects. Or, ending the pregnancy.
I know that if you believe completely that human life begins the instant egg meets sperm, this seems a little “off.” Better to risk birth defects than to kill the kid outright, right? But the thing is, that’s just it, a belief. There’s no way to prove it, no way to measure when a soul comes into being. Someone who believes that might well decide to go off the meds to protect the kid, or to take their chances with the meds. But to require someone who doesn’t believe that to go through a pregnancy that’s deeply damaging to her mental health, based on something you can’t prove–that’s wrong.
I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that life begins at conception. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to define the start point as quickening, or viability, or any number of other possibilities. What’s unreasonable is to force others to adhere to the most extreme definition, without any regard for their own physical or mental well-being.
Even if a fetus–or an embryo–is a person, it’s worth pointing out that a pregnant woman is a person too.