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Wednesday, November 13, 2013

A Day in the Life: Clinic Days

It’s 6:30am and typically I’d still be sleeping. But today, I’m wide awake, lying in bed, stomach in knots, and praying to God that I’ll have the energy to make it through a 17 hour day. I know that today will easily end up being one of the most exhausting days of my life, but I’m ready for it. I’ve been waiting on this day for months, one could even say years. Later today, I’ll go to work for my typical 8 hour shift, but first, I’ll spend a few hours learning how an abortion clinic operates-from the inside.

If the idea of observing at an abortion clinic isn’t enough for my mind to process, I won’t be observing at just any abortion clinic. No, I’ll be observing at the clinic owned and operated by Dr. Leroy Carhart (and staff, respectively). Dr. Carhart has been a major player in this movement for years, as he is one of the only remaining abortion providers offering late term abortion services. Because of the late term options he provides, he’s also spent years being the target of violent pro-life extremists, even falling victim to arson at his ranch in 1991. The fire killed 17 of Dr. Carhart’s horses. Paintings of those horses now decorate the walls of his clinic.

For the last few months, I’ve held the title of "intake specialist" for the clinic. Simply put, this means that I obtain information, by phone, for women seeking Dr. Carhart’s services past 21 weeks gestation. In addition to this position, running this blog has also kept me involved in this movement (albeit, on the outskirts) for almost two years now. But for some reason, I feel that by exposing myself to the protestors who are bound to show on this particular morning, I’m involving myself on a whole new level. By meeting these women face to face and hearing their stories and observing procedures, I feel like I’m entering an entirely different arena. It’s a heavy feeling and I’m intensely aware that by the time I leave the clinic today, the views that I’ve spent the last three years defending could change. And still, I can’t bring myself to miss a moment of it.

After leaving home, I stop at the store and load up on energy drinks before heading to the clinic. Once I hit the interstate, my anxiety kicks in. I can’t stop the constant stream of thoughts from going through my mind: What should I expect? How crazy will the protestors be? Will this make me emotional? Am I going to completely humiliate myself and pass out? Will I leave just as strong in my beliefs as before? The questions are endlessly streaming and I can’t wait to find the answers.

It seems like it takes an hour to get to the clinic, but in reality, I’m there within 15 minutes. I arrive around 7:40am to what appears to be one protestor, an older man who seems to have placed signs in the grass with phrases such as "Abortion Hurts Women" and "Men Regret Abortion". If that isn’t annoying enough, he’s also holding a sign that reads, "Today is Kill Day!" in big, bold letters. Once I manage to get into the parking lot (while reading these signs), I realize that there are two women who are on the grass in front of the parking lot praying. I park my car and try to stall because I know the man has zeroed in on me. Within seconds, another car parks beside me and a man and women get out and enter the building together. I finally suck it up and get out of my car and instantly the man is yelling at me, "Don’t kill your baby! Let us help you! You’ll never forget this day…the day you murdered your baby!" In all honesty, I have no idea how to react, so I just mutter that I’m not pregnant and that I’m an employee. He doesn’t believe me, shakes his head and keeps yelling at me not to kill my baby. I walk away and head up the stairs that lead to the clinic entrance. The praying women are waiting for me. They’re very nice and I have no problem telling them that I’m not pregnant and that I work at the clinic. They instantly seem surprised that I’m talking to them and express interest in having a "real conversation" with me for my blog anytime I’m free. I awkwardly walk away and as the door closes behind me, I hear them tell me that they’ll be praying for me.

I’m finally inside the clinic and I feel like I can take a breath. I’m excited to see the girls, but I can’t help but notice the atmosphere in the clinic. There is one patient there, in addition to the couple from the parking lot. No one in the room seems to be any kind of noticeably emotional, though there does seem to be an awkward silence lurking in the room. GMA is playing on the t.v. in the waiting room and Lara Spencer’s perky voice is all that seems to cut through the uncomfortable silence. I laugh to myself at the thought of how excited I am to be here, while all the other girls in the office are discussing one’s recent overnight stay in the local haunted house. It’s about this time that I realize that in my nervous rush to leave the house, I forgot my notebook, so Lindsey (Dr. Carhart’s Director of Nursing) sets me up with a clipboard. I immediately start making notes and she laughs at me. I’m determined to not forget a single detail. Lindsey informs the other girls in the office that I’ll be following them around the clinic today and that I’d like to sit in on educations and procedures. After what felt like forever, the work begins.

By the time I sit through my first education, another patient has arrived. There is no single characteristic that any of these women visibly share. There is a young, married couple that seems down, a girl who is alone and seeking a medical abortion (the abortion pill), and another girl who must be somewhere around my age, who is accompanied by her best friend. They all appear to be from different walks of life. I’m asked if I’d like to sit in on the education for a F.I. (fetal indication) patient and I jump at the opportunity. It turns out that the young married couple (who I previously saw in the parking lot) is there because they just discovered that their baby has a chromosomal abnormality. The woman is devastated, the husband tries to remain stoic, and this is the first patient that I feel some connection with, even though we never speak to each other directly.

Finally, Dr. Carhart arrives and almost immediately jumps into action. I walk into the first patient room to find an older woman, calmly lying on the examining table. Her pregnancy was discovered so early that she did not qualify for a medical abortion. I stand discreetly in the back of the room by the door, so not to make the patient uncomfortable or be in the way. As the woman is being prepped, Dr. Carhart comes into the room and speaks with her, ensuring that she’s comfortable with her decision. All that’s going through my mind is, "This is it. This may change everything. I’m not sure I’m ready for this". By the time those thoughts play out in my mind, the procedure is over and the woman is getting dressed. I’m called over to examine the products of conception (POC) and to my surprise, I see nothing recognizable. Immediately, I wonder why people are willing to kill doctors over this.

The third procedure that I observe is not an actual abortion procedure, but the administration of Digoxin to the fetus and placement of laminaria for cervical dilation. It’s the young married couple. I walk into the room and notice that instead of the patient being distraught, her husband is. She is calm and it’s his turn to cry. He holds it together quite well, holding her hand and speaking with the doctor. Dr. Carhart is incredibly sympathetic to their situation and speaks to them like this is a personal situation for him, as well. It is obvious that they appreciate his compassion during such a difficult time. These types of situations are what originally opened my mind to the pro-choice movement and it’s hard for me to process how this couple must be feeling. After speaking with the husband, Dr. Carhart takes his seat and is given the instruments needed for the procedure. Once the ultrasound screen lights up, the husband buries his head into the examining table and his wife strokes his forehead. The room falls completely silent and as soon as the first part of the procedure is over, the husband falls apart. It’s clear that his heart is broken. I’m still standing awkwardly in the corner, not wanting to make anyone uncomfortable or be in the way, but I notice that he’s looking for something to wipe his face and he’s too distraught to notice the box of tissues that had been sat on the head of the examining table for him. I quietly step over and hand him the box. He’s grateful and thanks me. In the time it takes me to take three steps back to the corner, I’m sure my heart is about to burst through my chest. In handing him that simple box of tissues, I feel like I’m officially involved. Part of me feels ridiculous; part of me feels grateful to be a part of it, even in some small way. I know I won’t be there to see how this couple handles their procedure the following day, and I make a note to ask Lindsey to keep me informed of how they’re doing. And suddenly, it’s real to me. I don’t know these people…I don’t know their story, but it feels personal. This really is a needed service. I like to say that I knew that before, but for some reason, now it’s really hitting home for me.

I see one more F.I. procedure before the day is over. It’s for a couple that I didn’t see earlier, but again, the husband is by his wife's side and it makes me appreciate Dr. Carhart’s way of doing things. The couple is laid back. They discuss their other children with us, the wife jokes and tries to make light of the situation, but keeps bursting into tears. The husband remains calm and strong for his wife. Once Dr. Carhart comes into the room, he asks how she’s doing and she dissolves into tears and says, "This fucking sucks!" Dr. Carhart agrees with her and tries to put her at ease. He handles the situation beautifully and it’s amazing to watch his bedside manner. He ensures that this is the route the couple wishes to take. Throughout this procedure, the patient tries to lighten the mood by making jokes and I admire her for working so hard to hold it together. We all end up jumping in to help lighten things up. In a matter of minutes, this procedure is completed and Dr. Carhart leaves the room to help his next patient.

Finally, I’m standing in for my last procedure of the day. This woman, probably close to my age, is farther along than the rest of the surgical abortion patients and I’m curious as to why she’s waited so long. It doesn’t take long to figure out that it was a financial issue. As she talks with the staff, she’s clearly concerned about any extra costs that she may have to pay. I’m instantly irritated because I know that this service should be more readily available and affordable for women who need it. For women living paycheck to paycheck, an unexpected pregnancy and termination (if she chooses that route) could unravel everything that she’s worked so hard to gain and it appears that that may be the case for this patient. As Dr. Carhart finishes his paperwork after the procedure, I scribble a few extra notes down and start to get my papers together.

Back in the office, I’m gathering my jacket and papers when it starts to set in that the last few hours have changed the way I feel about this movement. The protestors, the patients, Dr. Carhart…all of it has left me with a feeling of overwhelming pride in this movement. For the doctors and nurses and staff members who are willing to risk their own well-being in an effort to provide a safe, dignified place for these women to go in their time of need. Even for the women who are brave enough to recognize that they made need to utilize their right to choose. As I start to leave the building, I remember that protestors will be waiting and suddenly there’s a sickening churn in the pit of my stomach and I feel nothing but disgust for these close minded zealots. How could anyone meet one of these women and dare to judge them? How could they assume that they know what is best for these women and (possibly) their families? What makes them think that they have a say when it comes to a woman exercising her freedom of choice? This time when I walk outside, there’s a different woman by the door and again, I have no problem speaking with her. I’m a little more confident this time around so when she starts preaching, I politely (yet, somewhat sarcastically) tell her that I disagree with her. I state that I CHOSE to have my children and I wouldn’t dare try to take that choice away from another woman. I walk away, and am again told that they’ll be praying for me.

By the time I get in my car and start to leave the clinic, there are about 5 protestors hanging by the entrance. I have to stop for oncoming traffic and while I'm stuck there and they're trying to hand me pamphlets, I crack my window and start blaring Ani DiFranco's "Lost Woman Song". It is ironically appropriate for the moment and I can't help but smile to myself. Yes, the first part of my day is over and instead of feeling exhausted, I'm feeling energized and more confident in my beliefs than ever. There is no way to justify taking a woman's right to choose away from her. Ani DiFranco had it right when she said, "They keep pounding their fists on reality, hoping it will break. But I don't think a one of us leads a life free of mistakes". 


Abortion isn't going anywhere. And outlawing it will only result in more lives lost. The real question of morality lies in whether or not we (as a society) are willing to let women needlessly die?

I can officially say that I know this movement from the inside...which leads me to this: I support the freedom of choice and the physicians and clinic staff that make the choice possible. Where do you stand?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Women on Web

If you're up to date on your abortion research, you know that there are still countries in which abortion is strictly illegal. And the consequences can be severe, to say the least. The women who reside in these countries clearly don't have many options when it comes to terminating pregnancies.

A few weeks ago I received a message on the blog's facebook page from a young girl who was desperate to end her pregnancy, but was in a country where it was illegal. She needed help. She was terrified. She came to me, a simple blogger for help. That should tell you just how desperately she needed resources.

I knew of one possible resource for her. One option that I had learned of about a year earlier that I never thought I'd have to utilize (or help someone utilize)...Women on Web. Women on Web is a website that, depending on whether or not a girl or woman meets certain requirements, can set a patient up with an online consultation with a doctor, and then can mail the women medications to end her pregnancy.

As simple as it sounds, this one website is making a huge impact in the lives of desperate women. If you'd like to contribute to this amazing organization, you can do so by visiting this link: https://www.womenonweb.org/en/donate . In order to run such an operation, they can use all the financing they can get. And women around the world will benefit from your generosity.

If you have any similar resources, please private message me on facebook or send an email with links to AThoughtofHerOwn@gmail.com.




What are we teaching our daughters?

About a week ago, right after my 6 year old started 1st grade, it occurred to me that this is the point at which we usually start telling our little girls that the boys on the playground are mean to them because they "like them". A few years later, we start wondering why our daughters start choosing to spend their time with assholes. There's something wrong here.

For some reason, I can't stop thinking about this. We (as a society) are teaching our daughters that it's acceptable for boys (or men) to treat them like crap because it's basically a sign of affection. What the hell are we thinking? Personally, I want to teach my daughter to kick a boy in the shin if he's mean to her on the playground. Of course, the school systems tend to get a little asshurt over those things these days.

We can't keep teaching our daughters these things (consciously or unconsciously) and wondering why we're seeing so many good girls with assholes, so many bad relationships, and so many girls devaluing themselves in order to stay in these shitty relationships. Let's start teaching our girls to value themselves....to reserve themselves for guys that respect them...that it isn't a sign of affection for a boy (or guy) to be a shit to them.

How do we start changing these "norms"? How do we start the process of breaking the cycle? Let's talk!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Life and Change

The last month of my life has been a whirlwind. I went from being a married housewife in Atlanta with three small children, to being a working, single mom of three about 5 minutes outside of Omaha. To say that my life is changing is the understatement of the century. I could look at all these changes in a negative way, but I'm choosing not to. I'm choosing to look for the silver lining. And there are many:

Since moving here, I've made some of the best friends that I've ever had. In fact, I would say that my family has expanded. I've had the opportunity to meet someone I've admired for years. I'm finally getting the chance to see this amazing movement from the inside. And finally, I'm spreading my wings for the first time in years. It's the best, most terrifying, mind boggling feeling I've ever had. It's definitely a lot to wrap my mind around.

In the first two weeks that I was here, I was invited to Dr. Carhart's clinic on a day when there were no patients. I was able to get a behind-the-scenes look, and I'll be honest...I was as giddy as a 14 year old meeting her favorite pop star. Lindsey (Dr. Carhart's nurse that I wrote about a few weeks ago), showed me around and loaded me down with all sorts of pro-choice gear. A week later, I went back to the clinic and was able to meet the man himself. Remember the giddy 14 year old? Yeah. She was back in full force. I'll admit, I was kind of star struck. He pulled me into an empty waiting room and asked me how I was doing (he had already been filled in on my situation), asked me about my kids, the blog, and let me pick his brain a little. He was as amazing as I expected. He also offered to let me bring my kids out to his ranch sometime soon, since my daughter loves to ride. And the icing on the cake? I got to watch his copy of After Tiller (FINALLY! Expect a post about that soon!). Color me happy.

This post doesn't have a whole hell of a lot to do with abortion. But my life is changing. The posts may start coming a little slower. I hope you guys will stick around and keep sharing the blog and the page with your friends. I still have a lot to say!


Lindsey brought a cake over for my dad's birthday on Sunday!


The pre-4th party was a blast!

Love!

Still stoked about this shirt! Not so much about the lack of make-up >.<

More gear!

Happy babies!

He's pretty sure he's going to marry Lindsey...

Notice how blurry the picture is? Yeah, my hands were shaking...

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lindsey Creekmore and the Uphill Battle

If you google "Lindsey Creekmore", all sorts of things will come up. Typical things like images of a bubbly girl with tattoos, Facebook profiles, a few blog entries...and then things start throwing you off. News articles from the likes of Operation Rescue, USA Today, The Huffington Post and more will start clogging your feed.

You see, Lindsey isn't your typical 30-something year old. Lindsey isn't your typical RN. Lindsey is employed by one of the world's most infamous late term abortion providers, Leroy Carhart. And as if that weren't enough, Lindsey only started working for Dr. Carhart after her former employer (Dr. George Tiller of Wichita) was murdered. Now that you know this, I bet it goes without saying that this girl faces her fair share of backlash from anti-choicers.

However, this time around, it would appear that the attack is coming from the inside. Lindsey started working with Dr. Carhart in the late summer of 2009 and was in the running to become the clinic's Director of Nursing. Within a few months, the clinic's current DON (who was supposed to be promoting to a higher position soon) was showing noticeable resentment towards Lindsey. This soon turned into an ultimatum for Dr. Carhart--he chose Lindsey.

Even though it's been a while since the former director of nursing left, it's only been recently that her backlash has started. And now Lindsey's nursing license is in jeopardy because of it. Of course this has less to do with Lindsey's ability as a nurse (which MANY previous co-workers will attest to...and trust me, I've heard rave reviews over work!), and more to do with a disgruntled former employee. The sad part of it is that anyone who is in this line of work understands that these workers have enough thrown at them on a daily basis, enough uphill battles to fight, and enough backlash from the pro-life side to wear on anyone...and yet, still, she chose to start this legal case.

Luckily, Lindsey has the support of a whole pro-choice community as well as an attorney who was willing to take on her case for free. However, she can still use all he encouragement she can get (as anyone in this situation could)....so feel free to post your messages of support here in the comments and I'll be more than happy to pass them along!

Thank you, Lindsey for providing excellent care to women in need, as well as your commitment to the cause. We're behind you 100%!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Jailhouse Journal of an OB/GYN

Every few months, I log onto Amazon in the hopes of digging up some new pro-choice jewel to read. It's not often that something new pops up (ironic, considering what a hot topic it is). But in late March, while I was on one of my searches, something new did pop up. Jailhouse Journal of an OB/GYN by Bruce S. Steir, M.D.

From my prior experiences, I immediately thought "Hm, a pro-choice book written by the doctor himself. Probably a little graphic". But still, onto my "wish list" it went. I tend to overload my wish list so my husband can see what I want when the holidays come around ;). I also got curious about the man himself, so of course, I turned to Google. What I found on Dr. Steir wasn't what I expected. After all, from the title of his book, I knew he had done jailtime. I expected to find some gruesome past. What I found was an unfortunate mishap that could have happened to anyone in his position (an unfortunate mishap combined with a serious miscarriage of justice).

Being the pain in the ass pro-choice blogger that I am, I decided to take a chance and reach out to Dr. Steir. MUCH to my surprise, Dr. Steir was willing to MAIL me a copy of his book. I wasn't sure what to think...had I contacted the right guy? I mean, really...it's not often that an author/doctor willingly offers to send you a copy of their book. But about a week later, there it was! Okay, I admit...I still have the package he sent it in (as close to an autographed copy I figured I'd get).

It took me a few weeks of reading in the pick-up line at my daughter's school, and staying up late after the kiddo's were asleep, but finally...I read it through.

This book is extraordianary. You will be completely immersed in it. You will meet Bruce as a child, Bruce as a teen, Bruce as a medical student, Bruce as a Naval Officer, and finally....Bruce as Dr. Steir: Warrior for Women. There was no gore to be read in this book. In fact, it focused mainly on his life leading up to his becoming an abortionist. And that was refreshing. It was refreshing to read of an abortion provider, AS A PERSON. And that's what he did here--he made sure that you knew him as a person, and not just by his profession...and certainly not just by his "crime" (I use that word LOOSELY).

So, in a nutshell, I would HIGHLY recommend his book. It's a good place to start for one who is just getting into the pro-choice movement, as you won't be thrown into the sometimes overwhelming politics of it, but you'll meet one of the providers behind this movement.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Sorry, guys!

So, it's been a minute so I've posted. Sorry about that! There have been so many new developments in the news regarding women's rights....I'm so behind! Let's go ahead and touch on the news about emergency contraception availability.

Dear Judge Edward Korman, WAY TO GO!!!! For those of you who are more behind than I am, EC (emergency contraception...morning after pill...Plan B) is now available over the counter without age and point-of-sale restrictions. This means that a girl of any age can now go into her local pharmacy and purchase the morning after pill without fearing that she'll have to jump through 52 hoops to get it. Of course, this also means that Republicans and pro-lifers are going bat shit crazy in an effort to stall or completely halt this decision from becoming practice. So far, Judge Korman has already called these attempts "frivolous" and I'm thinking that maybe (just maybe), this decision will stick!

North Dakota has passed a heartbeat bill. It will now be illegal to receive abortion services in the state of North Dakota if a fetal heartbeat is detected. In other words, most women are out of luck by say, 8 weeks. Some women won't have a chance to receive abortion services because they won't even know they're pregnant until after a heartbeat is detectable. North Dakota House, go home, you're drunk!

The case of Philadelphia abortion provider butcher, Kermit Gosnell, has been handed over to the jury. They are deliberating over an amazing 260 counts, including five counts of murder. Pro-lifers are having a field day using him in their arguments. I refuse to consider this man a provider, a helper of women and families...it's a stretch for my mind to even associate the word, "doctor", with this man.

Meanwhile, on the personal side of things: Ever since my dad died, I've felt more determined than ever to "start my life", so to speak. This has left me making lots of lists. Things I want to do, things I want to accomplish, things I want to do within this movement, steps to do all of them...it goes on and on. This is somewhat ironic--I'm wanting to push my foot through the door of something that my dad did not support. Don't get me wrong, my dad supported me. He was my biggest fan, he loved my writing...but he didn't support abortion. He worried about me getting physically involved in the work. In the words of Lana Del Rey, it leaves me with a war on my mind. Am I really honoring my dad by living my life to the fullest and pushing hard for what I want, when what I want is something he didn't support? Well if you came to this blog because you're not up for deep thinking, you were just sorely disappointed. Ha. In the meantime, I can't even decide HOW I want to be involved in this industry. There are so many great ways to help and I don't even know where to start to get involved. (Cue input)

Friday, April 19, 2013

A Leftist Ghoul with a Mental Disorder....And a Challenge

I won't lie. I'm kind of flattered that someone would put so much thought into insulting me based on one comment. Of course, that could be the mental disorder talking.

Anyone remember that old saying, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"? That may not be it exactly, but you get the idea (I'm really not good with "old sayings"). It really baffles me as to why this hasn't occurred to pro-lifers. Why not discuss your stance in a polite way? Would that be so hard? Are you so repulsed by my views that you have to immediately lay into me with name calling and belittling? Honestly, I've indulged in my fair share of bitching at the other side, but I usually reserve that for the people who are spewing blatant nonsense for the sake of shock factor. And really, there's just no reason for that. Why use bullshit when your argument is legitimate?

Because of these kinds of pro-lifers, I am almost ashamed to say that I use to be strongly pro-life. I am ashamed to say that I was pretty damn arrogant about it, too. But I honestly believe that my beliefs came from my upbringing and were based on emotion and nothing more. Once I sat down and spent months doing the research for myself, my views changed. It's still a hard topic for me sometimes, emotionally, but that makes it no less necessary of a service.

So, here's my challenge for you:
TALK TO A PRO-LIFER. Don't talk at them. Talk to them. Get their point of view, try to be understanding (of course this doesn't mean abandoning your own beliefs). And then share your's. Nicely. Here's the best part: If they start to get nasty, kill 'em with kindness. Why? Because they won't expect it. In fact, it'll throw them for a complete loop. We're not people, in the eyes of hardcore pro-lifers. We're murderers. Abortion loving evil people. Change that. Make them see you as a person and not a target.

After all, we won't get anywhere if we spend all our time belittling each other. The sooner BOTH sides realize this, the sooner we'll see some solutions.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

South Wind Women's Center

The first week of June, 2009, a clinic at 5101 East Kellogg Drive in Wichita closed. It was the end of an era. The closing came just one week after it's owner, Dr. George Tiller, was shot and killed at point blank range in the foyer of his church. Since then, the building has sat alone, a solemn reminder to many of the wonderful doctor (and warrior of women's rights) that a community and a movement, lost.

This week, the clinic got a second chance and re-opened as South Wind Women's Center. This is the first time since the death of Dr. Tiller that abortion has been readily available in Wichita. While they are not currently offering the late term services for fetal anomaly and maternal indication that Dr. Tiller's practice provided, they are offering services up to 14 weeks.

According to director (and former employee of Dr. Tiller), Julie Burkhart, the next few months are crucial to the clinic's success. While Wichita has been without an abortion provider nearly four years, the pro-life presence of Operation Rescue is still ever-present. As soon as word got out that the clinic was re-opening, OR has been working to put a stop to it all. This presents constant challenges to the clinic, it's employees, and it's clients.

To say that South Wind needs all the support it can get, is an understatement. These hard workers of women's rights need cheerleaders, encouragement, and all the "Way to go!"s that they can get. Whether you believe in prayer, good vibes, or whatever...send them their way! Let's hope that this clinic can manage to navigate through the harassment without losing their stamina to deal with it and their desire to help women.

Congratulations to South Wind Women's Center! Here's to a long and prosperous run!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

What defines a person?

Often, the abortion argument comes down to one question: When does a embryo/fetus/baby (whichever term you prefer) become a "person"? According to Webster's, there are 7 different definitions of a "person". None of which include a scientific definition involving a embryo, fetus, or baby. The irritating truth is: There is no one definition of a person. There is no black and white answer. "Person" means different things to different people.

For some people, the day they find out they're pregnant, they consider themselves to have another person growing inside of them. Other people consider the first kick a sign of personhood. Others believe that a fetus is a person only after it's born. In reality, emotion plays a big part in this answer.

However, after that question is answered (by each individual), the question of when one person is equal to another, or how long one person's rights outweigh another's. This is where the debate often gets heated. Again, this is often fueled by emotion. Even if one doesn't feel emotion towards a possible child, one is likely to still feel very emotional when it comes to women's rights and how far they should go (or in some extreme cases, if they should even exist at all).

The important thing to remember, while discussing the sensitive issue of abortion, is to respect everyone's individual views on when a embryo/fetus/baby (even though it may be exhausting, lol) reaches personhood. Doing so can result in a level headed conversation that has more potential to open minds.

x Keep Talking,

CC

Monday, March 25, 2013

Carol Carr and Huntington's Disease

On June 8th, 2002, Carol Carr walked into her son's nursing home and shot and killed them as they laid side by side in their room. Carol's sons, Andy and Randy Carr, were in the last agonizing stages of Huntington's disease. The same disease had already taken Carr's husband, daughter, oldest son (who killed himself when he learned that he had the disease) and was then taking two of her other sons. Eventually, Carr's youngest son was diagnosed, as well.

Carr did not try to elude police, waiting in the lobby of the nursing home until they came and got her. One police officer reported that Carr begged him to kill her once she was placed in the squad car. He said he felt nothing but sympathy for her. Carr's remaining son said that his mother did not act out of malice, but out of love. The overwhelming majority of people supported Carr. Even the lead detective in the case classified the deaths as "mercy killings". Carol Carr ended up pleading guilty to assisted suicide (which brings up a whole host of questions and discussions on it's own). She was sentenced to 5 years in prison, but only served 14 months before being released on parole. As part of her parole, Carol Carr is not allowed to be the primary caregiver to her remaining son when his HD starts to progress. Understandable.

With all the commotion that pro-lifers put out regarding late term abortions (for medical reasons, at that), how do you think they feel about this type of thing? What are your thoughts?


Would death change my mind?

Once, while talking to my mother, she told me that my views on abortion (specifically late term abortion for medical reasons) would change if I was ever confronted with death. I kind of blew her off, but when I was faced with the death of my dad, I couldn't help but wonder if I would come out of it with a completely different view on abortion.

I didn't see my dad die. But I saw him suffer. I saw how scared he was. I saw how much pain he was in. I watched him struggle to breathe. I saw him after they sedated him because they said the pain alone  would send his body into shock and kill him.

And as much as it hurt, and as much as it scared me...I remember wanting it to be over for him. If that meant we had to let him go, that's what I wanted my mom to do.
___________________________________________________________

As sad as it is, we know that baby making is not a perfect science. No matter how perfectly a woman carries a pregnancy, chromosomes and genes play a big role in producing a baby. And while it is amazing that we have the medical technology to detect these problems before a baby is born, it leaves women with a heavy, life altering choice to make. Some women choose to research and prepare for the issue that they're about to take on, and then the baby is born and they embrace that new lifestyle and make it work the best they can. Others simply can't handle it. Not because they're not strong enough, but because they don't have the heart to let their child suffer. Of course, a million and two other factors can come into play when making such a decision (finances, living children, physical/mental effect to the mother, and more). For many, it is as simple as not wanting their child to suffer. I understand.

As a mother, I would do anything to keep my children from suffering. I think any mother can relate to that. In 2002, a mother in Georgia shot her two sons in their nursing home, claiming that she couldn't stand to watch them deteriorate and suffer from Huntington's disease any longer (a more detailed post about that story to come). A surprising number of people backed her and had nothing but sympathy for her. Some would say she got off easy.

Who can blame a mother for making the choice to save her child from suffering? No one argues that this isn't a devastating choice for a mother (or family) to have to make. The idea is gut wrenching. But sometimes life throws us curve balls...gives us choices that we have to make, no matter how hopeless or painful it may be.  

Is there ever an instance (when it comes to terminations for medical reasons) that you don't support a woman's right to terminate?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

In Necessity and Sorrow: Life and Death in an Abortion Hospital

I didn't hear about this book until a couple of months ago, and then I anxiously ordered it on Amazon. After reading a few reviews and quotes from the book, I was honestly nervous about what I was about to dive into. I read somewhere (though I'm drawing a blank at the moment) that this book was not initially released in the United States, and now I see why. Because the one thing you should know about this book is that is is graphic. Dr. Magda Denes did not hold back in her descriptions of what she saw. Another thing you should know is that this publication is dated. Much of the lingo (as well as techniques) are outdated (as you would expect with a book that is almost 40 years old). The book was published in 1976 after over a year of research (and by the time it was published, the hospital that the book is based on, closed). One thing you have to remember about that time was that they were still performing saline abortions then. And a good portion of the book is dedicated to that. Because of that, I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone.

An interesting aspect of this book is that Dr. Denes (a clinical psychologist who immigrated to NYC. She died in 1996) previously had an abortion. Of course, it took three visits to the hospital for her to work herself up to it. The first two times, she walked out, unsure of her decision. A time later, she returned to the same abortion hospital to observe, interview, and eventually publish this book. I like the fact that we're reading these interviews and stories from a psychologist's point of view. I think it puts a whole new element into what we're reading.

The book is broken down into different sections. The Hospital (non-medical workers, policies, etc.), Saline Floor: Staff (here she compiles information gathered on the individuals who worked on the saline floor), Saline Floor: Patients and Parents (interviews and stories gathered from the girls and women undergoing saline abortions, as well as their parents, D & C Floor: Staff (again, individuals who worked on the D & C floor), and finally D & C Floor: Patients, Parents, and Boyfriends (same concept as the saline floor version). While interviewing the individuals, Dr. Denes is clearly "shrinking them", so to speak. And you can pick up on her opinions in her writing. Some of the stories will leave you with a "What the hell....?" response, while others will leave you saddened and even frustrated. Many of the women who were interviewed for this book seemed pretty nonchalant about the whole ordeal. In other interviews, you can clearly pick up a sense of low self worth and women/girls using sex to get what they want...only to be left with the burden of aborting. It is a pretty intense, mind blowing read.

One thing that stood out to me, is that many of the doctors who were interviewed for this book seem to possess a seriously warped view of women in general. Even the doctors who are married. They speak of their extra marital affairs as if they are nothing (which may have been the norm back then), then treat some of their patients in a rough manner (at least "rough" according to me). It is mind boggling.

All in all, this is a good read. But between what you're reading about (in graphic detail), the interviews with doctors, patients, and parents, and your own opinion of it all...it's a lot to wrap your mind around. Do not dive into this book expecting anything current. This book, as well as many of the techniques used, is outdated (as previously stated). The best part for me was the psychological aspect. I like the little notes that Dr. Denes made while interviewing these people. I like her take on them. I also appreciate the fact that Dr. Denes can identify abortion as a necessary service, while at the same time having empathy about it. She seems to appreciate that while it's needed, it's also a sad occurrence. As you regular readers are probably picking up on...I feel like I can identify with her views on the matter.

Info:
In Necessity and Sorrow: Life and Death in an Abortion Hospital
Magda Denes
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/In-Necessity-Sorrow-Abortion-Hospital/dp/0140046798/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1363565442&sr=8-1&keywords=in+necessity+and+sorrow


Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Grasping at Straws.

I've been noticing a recurring topic among pro-lifers lately. Maybe I just missed it earlier. Maybe I blocked it out because it annoys the shit out of me. I'm not really sure. But over the last few days, it's come to my attention in the most irritating way.

Kermit Gosnell.

It seems that every pro-life argument leads to this man. "Well, if you support late term abortion, do you support Gosnell's work?"....No. Just no. There are so many things wrong with this argument, I don't even know where to start. But I guess I'll start here: I consider this guy a fraud. A murderer, a skeeze, a liar, a greedy p.o.s., but never...not once since I've read his story have I considered him a "doctor". Doctors help people, right? Abortion providers help women, no? Can a logical pro-lifer honestly look at the Gosnell case, and then look at someone like Dr. Tiller and actually think that the two compare? Really? On one hand, you have a man that had his office staffed by unqualified employees, a man who drugged women in order to "deal" with them, a man who delivered babies alive (with no effort to stop the heart, etc. before the procedure) and then "snipped" their spinal cords, and let's not forget...a man who maintained a "medical facility" about as well as goldfish maintains it's memory. On the other hand, you have a man who had highly qualified staff in place to handle the physical, emotional, and spiritual well being of the women that sought their help, a man who had buffers in place to make sure that women were sure of their decisions, and procedures in place to make sure that they these women were well taken care of at all times. How do the two compare? They don't.

But this is what the pro-lifers (who are clearly GRASPING at straws with the Gosnell argument) don't realize: Making abortion illegal won't stop abortions (Which brings to mind the fact that most pro-lifers are gun-toting Americans...and isn't their argument that making guns illegal won't take them off the streets? Same concept here, people). But it will force women to seek out the grade of back-alley care that Gosnell provided. And I promise you, these bastards would come out of the woodwork if suddenly they realized that women were willing to pay top dollar for cut rate care.

Gosnell "care" is what we'll face if abortion is made illegal. Is that what we want for ourselves? For our daughters, granddaughters, nieces, sisters, and friends? There's not even a question...if abortion is made illegal, Gosnell will become the "norm".

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Resources

Throughout the month, I'll be putting together an elaborate list of resources for unwanted pregnancies. Clinics, with personal reviews, contact info etc...adoption resources, government programs...you name it. If you have experience with any of the above, PLEASE consider sharing the information you have so my list will be complete--not only with where to go, but with what to avoid.

ANY STATE, ANY AREA. We have readers from all over the world!

Thanks so much!
CC

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Late night ramblings.

When I became pro-choice, I wasn't sure what to expect. Obviously, my interactions with the pro-choice side hadn't exactly been "rosy" before my conversion. And I realize that I've got my own, unique pro-choice opinions. Once I started this blog, I expected that women who had had abortions would be wary of speaking with me, and that pro-choice organizations, activists, and the like would be more open to talking to me. Wrong. It was the exact opposite. Women were happy to share their stories with me. They were happy for the world (or my small audience, at least) to hear their stories and to open people's minds to what "abortion" can really mean. However, when it came to getting in touch with clinic workers, activists, and women from pro-choice organizations, I didn't have much luck. Many were much too busy to talk to a new blogger with a small following. Some were wary of my true intentions. Others just didn't care to. I got lucky with one clinic worker, and she was nice enough to help me put together a piece for the anniversary of George Tiller's death. I will be forever grateful to her for helping me navigate through the pro-choice community in my earlier days.

Lately, my following has started to grow. Along with my "following", my friend base in the pro-choice community has started growing, as well. Though, I can still sense some reluctance. It's discouraging, but I can't bring myself to give up pushing for interviews and connections. Because of my unique views on abortion, I feel like I could help bridge the gap between the two sides, and that's important to me. Once a bridge is formed, the gap tends to lessen.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Unacceptable.

I post tonight with a heavy heart and furious mind, as a family out of New York has lost their wife and daughter after a complication from a late term abortion (due to a fetal anomaly). I know that this family was looking forward to meeting their daughter/granddaughter. And I know that their hearts had to break once they realized that the pregnancy was not meant to be. They had already named the baby. But to lose the baby's mother, as well, during such an excruciating time is nothing short of salt being rubbed in a wound. This whole unfortunate ordeal breaks my heart.

Unfortunately, when ANY medical procedure is done, risks are present, regardless of the procedure. With any SURGICAL procedure, the risk of death is always present. Always. Anytime that anesthesia is introduced, the risk is greater. The later in a pregnancy, the most risky the termination. That has nothing to do with the doctor performing it. Those are just the facts.

So when the pro-life side decides to publish this poor young woman's name, her husband's name, her parents' names, her employment information and the information as to how she died, as well as the "notes" taken from the pro-life harassment comity that happened to be stationed outside of a clinic, I get pretty pissed off. I know what it's like to lose someone. And I know that if, during our time of acceptance and healing, someone posted personal information in a public forum, such as the INTERNET, there would be no place for them to hide.

The ironic part of all of this is that the majority of the hard core pro-lifers who tend to do this sort of thing, claim to be a God fearing group of people, first and foremost. What person could think that it is morally acceptable to exploit this family's tragedy in such a way? For their own political agenda? How is that okay? How is that acceptable? It's not. In no way is that acceptable. It's doing nothing other than causing pain: to this family in their time of sorrow and to this doctor who just lost a patient.

I've thought long and hard about whether to post links to this poor woman's story. But I have decided not to. They are already getting so much exposure in such a private time, I don't think it would be appropriate to spread this any father than it's already gone. I realize this story can easily be found online (because the pro-lifers have done such a fabulous job of spreading it like wildfire among themselves), but I *personally* do not wish to share.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

My Humble Opinion (if you're not open minded, save yourself the heartache)

As I always say, anyone who knows me and has followed this blog knows that I used to be pro-life. Strongly pro-life. So I think that because I understand that side (as much as it frustrates me now), I have pretty unique pro-choice views. And that tends to piss off some people.

For example, I do think that there should be limitations. I think there should be a cut off for elective abortions, and a separate cut off for certain circumstances, such as medical reasons, rape, or incest. For those of you wondering why I'm all for women being able to terminate late term due to rape or incest, it's because many young girls are scared to speak up if they've been a victim of rape or incest. Therefore, often there pregnancies are undetected by any adult until the girl is showing (often not until 5 or 6 months, and even later than that for some girls). As far as medical reasons, often a fetal anomaly cannot be detected until the anatomy scan, which generally occurs between 18-20 weeks. Some women don't even get ultrasounds before that point. Likewise, often maternal problems aren't detected until later in the pregnancy either. My thoughts on limitations tend to irritate others in the pro-choice community. Everyone likes to say that it's stupid for me to think that women would be flocking to their local abortion clinics to have abortions "just because" at 30 weeks. And that would be stupid. But here's the thing: the world is full of stupid people. I do believe that there would be women (not many, but still), who would terminate late term just because they were allowed to and certain circumstances have put them there (think: martial separation late in a pregnancy. I don't think this type of thing really makes sense as a reason to terminate). Call me anti-woman if you want...but that's just how I feel about it. I don't think it's wrong for a woman to terminate because she simply doesn't want to be pregnant, I just think that kind of abortion should happen ASAP (which also leads me to point out that I believe the government should put some sort of help out there for these women, as the majority of insurance companies don't cover abortions and some women can't come up with a few hundred dollars in the instance of unintended pregnancy). As far as medical reasons--I don't believe that at 38 weeks, a woman should be able to terminate, UNLESS (note people, this is a BIG "unless"), the baby is actively suffering in utero. I'm a mom. I know that none of us would want our children to suffer. Period. If the baby is suffering, and a family wants to terminate, they should be allowed to. But if it's a case of they're okay right now, but they won't survive once they're born, let nature take it's course. Of course, just my opinion. I probably feel this way BECAUSE I am a mom. While I consider myself strongly pro-choice, I've never had the outlook that the fetus isn't a baby. From the start, in my opinion, there is (at the very least) potential for life. I understand that life happens. I understand that women don't want their children to suffer. I understand that sometimes the choice has to be made to save the mother. But that doesn't make me feel any less empathy for the pregnancy, the child, the fetus...whatever you prefer to call it. But in the grand scheme of things, I realize that I am nothing more than a blogger. I write my thoughts out, and a few people read them. And while I am so  incredibly grateful that people spend their incredibly valuable time reading what I write, I realize that at this point in my life, I probably won't be making a difference in this debate. When it comes down to it, we've got a ton of Republican men who believe women should still be barefoot in the kitchen, holding our political offices. And as long as they want this right to be taken away, the very real threat remains. One blog isn't going to change that.

With all of that said, I do respect the feelings and opinions of my pro-choice friends...even the ones who believe abortion should be available on demand, with no restrictions. Because those are their opinions. And I believe that anyone who is willing to speak out on their true feelings on abortion (an often emotionally charged issue), deserves respect. Period. This is not an easy topic to discuss these days. But the fact that it's not easy doesn't mean that we don't need to be facing it. Our rights are in more danger now than they have been since the passing of Roe v Wade. Now is the time for us to speak up and speak out and work to preserve the rights that we have. Not only for ourselves, our friends, and sisters...but for future generations. For our children and their children.

In order for this fight to be won, we have to respect each other in the battle. We're all fighting for the same thing, regardless of whether or not our opinions of the details differ. We all believe that women should have the chance to make a choice: parent, adopt, abort.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Our Rights in the Balance

In recent years, the right to obtain a safe and legal abortion has been threatened by countless bills and laws restricting our access. While republicans haven't had any luck outlawing abortion, they have been successful and making it nearly impossible to obtain one. However, up until now, we could at least take comfort in knowing that if we were the victims of rape or incest OR we were carrying a severely disabled child, we had the option of interrupting the pregnancy.

This week alone, two shocking stories regarding states passing bills to restrict these types of abortions were released. The first, and probably most shocking, comes out of New Mexico. On Wednesday (1/23), a republican lawmaker introduced a bill that would make it a crime to terminate a pregnancy that was the result of rape. Yes, you read that correctly. This bill would make it illegal for a woman who was raped and became pregnant to terminate the pregnancy. And how could anyone ever criminalize a woman for doing such a thing? By saying that by terminating the pregnancy, she's tampering with evidence (I shit you not, people). How many things can you count in this bill that are SO wrong? Not only would it be awful for someone to force a woman who's been raped to carry her pregnancy to term...but then they're going to turn around and use the baby as evidence in a sexual assault case? No. Just no. I can't imagine how this would benefit anyone: mother or child.

The second story, which was released yesterday on BuzzFeed, says that several states are considering making it illegal for doctors to terminate pregnancies based on fetal anomaly. If Indiana passes the bill that was recently introduced there, terminating a pregnancy due to a fetal abnormality could land a doctor in prison for up to 8 years with a Class C felony on his record. There are so many things wrong with this. First of all, the idea of a couple deciding to make a baby, only to be devastated to find out that their child is suffering, or will not live a high quality life if they survive...it's heart wrenching  The only thing worse that I can imagine is a family not being able to make the decision to save their child from suffering, if they wish to do so. Carrying a child to term, only to watch them suffer and/or die once they leave the comfort of your womb could be enough to make a woman (a mother) crumble into nothing. It could certainly be equally detrimental to the father, and any other living children that the couple may have. Aside from the emotional damage that this could do to a family, is anyone considering the financial distress it could cause? Just because a family is well off enough to support a healthy child does not mean that they will be able to financially support a special needs child (or their funeral). In a matter of two weeks in the summer of 2012, my 2 year old son ran up medical bills near $40,000. What in the world could cost so much? Ten days in the hospital, along with blood tests, MRI's,  ultrasounds, antibiotics, and the eventual draining for AN INFECTED LYMPH NODE! I can't imagine the financial stress that supporting a disabled or terminally ill child could cause to a family. Unfortunately, in today's economy, we have to think about these things.

It is safe to assume that getting an abortion will not be an easy process anytime soon. It seems that lawmakers are trying their hardest to throw as many roadblocks in the way as they can...and they've been reasonably successful in doing so. But that doesn't mean that our fight is over. We have to keep fighting for women. We have to keep fighting for our daughters and grand daughters, our future unborn children who may be broken and suffering, for the right to say what happens to our own bodies. We have to keep fighting, and in order to do that, we have to keep talking.

Keep talking. Keep fighting. Let your local lawmakers know that this is unacceptable.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

WARNING: Very Graphic, May Include Triggers

Early in 2011, I posted about Kermit Gosnell. He was charged with with the deaths of seven infants and 1 woman. Most pro-lifers will argue that every single doctor who provides abortions should face the same charges. However, this case is so far beyond a man who provides abortion services. A new 20 minute documentary highlights exactly what happened behind closed doors in this inner city house of horrors.

Since Roe v. Wade was passed, woman have had access (though often difficult to obtain) to safe, legal abortions. And by "safe", I mean...abortions who are provided by a licensed doctor, in a clean setting, with sterile instruments. The procedures can be done in a number of ways which are often done before the baby has the brain waves/nervous system to make it capable of feeling pain. And once the brain and nervous system has developed to such a point, measures are taken to make the procedure as safe as possible for the baby.

I can only imagine that what Kermit Gosnell did was comparable to back alley abortionists who were in it for nothing more than a quick buck. The Gosnell clinic was located in Philadelphia, in a lower-class neighborhood. Gosnell's "typical" clientele has been described by some as "lower-class", "poor", "minorities", or "under-educated" women. And while it's often true that women who find themselves in desperate situations such as having no money and needing an abortion, will take a risk. I don't think any one of the women who went to Gosnell ever imagined that they would have to be wary of such an experience.

One woman (former patient) who appeared in the documentary describes an experience of seeing women who looked half dead (from being given heavy drugs) sitting in the waiting room, blood spattered walls and floors, blood crusted recliners, and a forceful doctor who refused to let her up off the bed when she changed her mind about the abortion. Instead, he put her to sleep and performed the procedure anyway. She is no longer able to have children.

A clinic worker (who was in no way qualified to do anything other than maybe answer phones and make appointments) snapped cell phone pictures of two of the babies that Gosnell "aborted" (And by "aborted", I mean delivered alive at full term, shoved scissors into the base of their skulls and then "snipped" their spinal cords...a technique that he called "snipping"). These pictures are included in the documentary and are VERY graphic. 

Through the years, two women's deaths were reported to the health department, along with a woman who suffered perforated uterus...but no investigation was done--with any of them. The last time an employee from the Department of Health physically visited the clinic? 1993. Not only is Gosnell and his staff at fault, the city should be held accountable as well, or at least the Department of Health.

It's also interesting to note that Gosnell had one exclusive procedure room that he used for white women. It was reportedly cleaner and nicer than the others, because as he put it "That's the way of the world. Young white women are more likely to tell". The whole ordeal is despicable.

This man was not in the business to help women. Nor was he concerned about providing mercy to babies who were suffering. This man would do any abortion, at any time through the pregnancy, for ANY reason. If you were due the day BEFORE you went to him, he would still provide his "services". The only thing that mattered was the money.

Today, on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it's so important to remember that if we lose this right to do what we wish with our bodies, there is a very real possibility that this "quality" of care could become the norm for women who need abortion services. These kinds of scary stories are the kind of thing that people heard before we had the legal right to choose. Do we really want to go back to seeing this type of operation regularly? Making abortion illegal won't stop it. But more people will die.

You can watch the documentary, 3801 Lancaster here. But PLEASE be advised that this video is extremely graphic. I would not recommend it for post abortive women, queasy individuals, rape victims, or women who have experienced any kind of pregnancy/infant/child loss. 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

40th Anniversary of Roe vs Wade

40 years after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of women's rights, there have been plenty of setbacks. Doctors who are legally providing abortions have been murdered in cold blood by people who claim to value and respect life. The offices of these doctors have been bombed. Women who seek these services have been harassed relentlessly. Aside from cleaner conditions and the legal red tape, the passing of Roe vs Wade actually seems to have made the task of seeking an abortion even harder. Before abortion was legal, the biggest concern was the health risk posed by having the procedure done by someone who may or may not be experienced and in less than sterile conditions, at that. Now, of course, women can access abortions (if they have the monetary means to pay for the procedure and possible traveling involved for many women) that are legal and safe, without the fear of legal prosecution. But at what emotional cost?

Many women describe feeling like a criminal while trying to obtain their legal abortion. At most clinics, women are subjected to things like metal detectors and armed security guards. Women have shared stories online of having protesters screaming in their faces as they walk into clinics, or blocking their cars in the clinic driveways. Clinic workers constantly deal with their personal information being distributed publicly. And abortionists themselves have resorted to all sorts of precautions, including wearing bullet proof vests and driving armored vehicles. All of these precautions are necessary for a legal, medical procedure. All of these barriers are broken because of a legal, medical procedure. And what's being done? Hardly anything. And usually nothing preventative.

So how much good has Roe vs. Wade done? Of course women who would have otherwise died in filthy conditions have been able to have a safe abortion. But how healthy is it for a woman to be emotionally tormented when being exposed to these extremists? If the decision is made to make (and keep) abortion legal, the decision should also be made to protect the women who are accessing this legal option.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Tonight, Just Pray.

Back when all the possible republican candidates were hashing it out for the coveted role of "THE republican candidate", I came across a story while doing my typical research and reading on abortion and the like. The article was called, Rick Santorum: Meet My Son. The article was written by writer Emily Rapp. If you remember, Rick Santorum is a passionate pro-lifer, despite the fact that his own wife had to have an induction to terminate a pregnancy to save her own life back in 1996. Emily's article describes the gut wrenching process of having to watch her son, Ronan, die a slow and awful death due to Tay-Sachs. While pregnant, Emily underwent prenatal testing, but the tests came back negative for Tay-Sachs. In the incredibly honest article, Emily says that had she known that her son had Tay-Sachs, she would have terminated her pregnancy. Not because she only wanted a "perfect" child, but because she was already so in love with her unborn child that the idea of allowing him or her to suffer was unbearable. You can read more about Tay-Sachs here. Right now, Ronan is blind, paralyzed, and growing less responsive by the day.

(Please, go and read the article. But have a box of tissues handy.)

The point of that introduction was to say this:

Ronan is in his final stages of life, as we speak. They now have him on IV fluids for hydration and comfort care, but right now, he is at the end of the line.

I found out that Ronan's condition had deteriorated a couple of days ago via Emily's facebook page. She posted a status that said:

"Thanks for all the positive thoughts, folks, and for thinking of Ronan. I really appreciate it. Rones is taking fluids and meds through an ng tube (through his nose) for comfort care and hydration because he can no longer swallow and had a day of extreme respiratory distress. It was a terrible decision to make but felt like the right one. He is able to taste small bits of food. His body is slowing down. He is never without people who love him. xo"

As a mother, I can't imagine what Emily is going through. Having to watch your child suffer and deteriorate over a period of a few years would be unbearable, but she's done it, because her first priority is Ronan. I have no idea if she is relieved, for his sake, that they are at the end of the line, or if this is the worst time of her life..or both. But I think it's safe to say that regardless, she needs all the prayers she can get. And Ronan certainly needs all the prayers that he can get. Prayers for a comfortable passing for Ronan, prayers for healing for Emily, prayers for strength for the whole family.

For a moment tonight, please push aside your thoughts on abortion...whether or not you think that Emily is wrong (or not) for wishing she had known about Ronan's condition so that she could have ended his suffering. Tonight, just pray for them.




Friday, January 11, 2013

To Be or Not to Be...Pro-choice

Anytime there is mention of the term "pro-life" or "pro-choice", people immediately have a strong reaction. Some people get uncomfortable. Some people jump at the chance to defend their stance. Others jump to vilify your's.

In a world of black and white issues, pro-life and pro-choice are simple: You're either against abortion or you're for it. But the problem with that reasoning is that our world is never that simple. The truth is, 99% of the time, life is one big gray area. Every situation has it's own issues, it's own difficulties. No two cases are the same. So how does one decide whether they are pro-life or pro-choice?

Many people are raised in a pro-life household (often due to religion). And therefore, those people often feel ashamed to consider themselves pro-choice. Some people are so saddened and angered by the idea of a woman having an abortion, that they don't take the time to consider what being pro-choice actually means. I was one of these people.

I was raised in a Christian household where sex before marriage was wrong, homosexuality was unforgivable, and abortion was an unspeakable act. I felt strongly that a woman who had an abortion was a "certain kind" of woman (or girl) who was irresponsible enough to get herself into a "situation". I also felt such sympathy for the unborn baby. The funny part is that I ended up realizing that I was not only pro-choice, but strongly pro-choice while doing research for a paper that was intended to discourage people from supporting the pro-choice side of the fence. However, the sympathy for the unborn child is still there. As a mother myself, I don't think that will ever go away. It is important to note that while I absolutely feel that abortion should be kept safe and legal, it is always a sad occurrence, in my opinion.

It was hard to realize that I was having second thoughts about my pro-life stance. I felt awful, like an accessory to murder. But then I realized...being pro-choice didn't make me pro-abortion. It didn't mean that the idea of abortion thrilled me. After all, I was pregnant during three times in my life when plenty of women would have considered (or even gone through with) abortion. The first time, I was only 4 months into marriage, without resources, and completely unprepared to be a parent. The second, I went through a separation (almost divorce). And the third time, I was on birth control and not planning on another child for at LEAST a few years. I could have terminated any of those pregnancies. But I made the CHOICE to carry them, to have them, to love them. I had a choice to do that, and I was grateful for it. Women in China don't have that choice (aside from the first time). They are forced to abort. And we deem that as "wrong". So how can we see forcing a woman who can't afford a child, who's child is suffering and will certainly die, or who will die herself if she carries her pregnancy, to carry a pregnancy to term? How do we justify that?

There are plenty of circumstances that most people don't think about when they deem themselves pro-life. For example, what would these people do if they were faced with an ectopic pregnancy? I've heard lots of pro-life people refer to the removal of an ectopic pregnancy as a miscarriage. Not so. In rare cases, women (and their babies) have been known to survive an ectopic pregnancy. So, when a woman consents to having it removed (if the fetus is still alive), she is making the decision to terminate the pregnancy. My own mother made this decision at one point in her life. Because in most cases, the baby will die, and the mother can as well...people like to refer to this "removal" as a miscarriage, but in reality, unless the fetus has already died, it is in fact an abortion. It is, however, considered a "medically necessary" termination (obviously).

What about women who purposely get pregnant, only to find out that something awful is wrong with their child? That their child is suffering? That their child won't live outside the womb for more than a few torturous minutes? If they make the decision to have an abortion...are they evil? I don't think so. Especially if there are other children involved, or the mother's life is in danger, or the baby is suffering in-utero. This is a major decision that requires serious contemplation of many factors. Of course, if they choose to carry the pregnancy as far as they can in order to meet their child and resolve the idea of never-ending "what-ifs", they are more than entitled to do so. That's the beauty of it--it's their CHOICE.

I know a few girls who were raped. If they had become pregnant as a result, I can absolutely understand why they would choose to terminate. Likewise, I would understand if they chose to carry, as well. Again...a CHOICE.

The bottom line is this: No one likes the idea of a dead baby. No one gets the warm and fuzzies from thinking about it. No one aspires to abort. But life happens. It's as frustratingly simple as that. Baby making isn't a perfect science. Life isn't a walk in the park. I wouldn't want my choice to carry a pregnant to term to be taken away. And I wouldn't want the choice to end a pregnancy taken away for me, my daughter, or for other women. Because sometimes life happens and it isn't pretty. Sometimes it's just a mess. And depending on what you are capable of, as a woman (or partner), you deserve to make the choice yourself. Am I against putting limitations on this choice? Nope. I do not believe a woman should be able to decide at 35 weeks pregnant that she just doesn't want to be a mother. I believe that this decision is one of MONUMENTAL responsibility and should be treated as such.  Whether it's an early abortion or a late term abortion, it should be given an immense amount of thought...because it's something that you have to live with for the rest of your life. And despite the fact that you may choose to terminate your pregnancy, this is the first decision that you will make as a mother. You will ultimately decide if your child will suffer or thrive, if you can support a child, if you feel comfortable letting someone else have your child....you will decide, for you...and for your child.

So the next time someone asks you if you're pro-life or pro-choice, give it a little thought before you answer. You may surprise yourself.