April 18, 2007

Intact Dilation and Extraction (D&X) Ban Upheld

I'm about to get on a plane and my phone isn't the best blog interface, but damn, I'm furious.

Let me be among the first to say that the Supreme Court is in the wrong. It's true that Intact D&X is used in very few abortion procedures. It's also true that it's used in those late term procedures performed when the baby is either already dead or is terminally deformed, such as in anencephalic pregnancies. Intact D&X is used to minimize the risk of damage to the mother that could render her unable to have children in the future. Oh yeah, and the situations this procedure is commonly used in are those that only arise in, or are undetectable until, the late stages of pregnancy.

More, and more links, later.

Bump & Update: And by 'among the first,' I clearly only meant the first day, because this Supreme Court decision has generated a lot of discussion. Here's why ...

The Supreme Court's decision today is the equivalent of signing death warrants for hundreds of anonymous women.

I only wish I was exaggerating. Because there was no health exception included in this ban, and because it banned a medical procedure instead of a setting a time frame exclusion, upholding this ban is likely to be a death sentence for some of the women who need that procedure. A procedure that's only allowed for medical reasons and is only performed about 2,200 times a year. But, but, you say, there's a life exception, right?

I wonder what level of certainty it is that will define a life exception? Do you think women and their doctors will get to pick that? If I have only, say, a 10% risk of dying in childbirth and an 80% risk of merely getting maimed in the process, am I going to have to go ahead and face it? Would some chickenshit HMO bureaucrat parse my doctor's recommendations and match them up with some risk assessment chart balancing their interest in keeping me healthy and alive with their interest in not getting the DoJ on their asses for performing a legally suspect medical procedure? If I were facing the sort of birth that causes doctors to recommend an intact D&X and they determine that I'm only likely to get seriously injured, and I end up dying anyway, well, damn, too bad. Who could have guessed?

And it would be too late to grant an exemption to someone who was already stone, cold dead.

These miserable bastards have signed a 'there but for the grace' death warrant for every single woman in this country who might become pregnant. There is no possible compensation for the families left behind, for the loss of their daughter, mother, or partner. Women will die because the Supreme Court just decided that we can't be trusted to make this decision ourselves, due to our delicate emotions, you understand. So delicate and easily swayed from our true desires that each woman seeking an exception must bring her own case to court in the hopes that the law, in the fullness of time, will provide a necessary counterweight to her own clearly flawed ability to determine what medical treatment she should have.

The right wing tells us they're trying to promote a culture of life, one where I might be forced to face the joy of having to carry an anencephalic pregnancy for over a year without the possibility that my doctors could stop a 'beating heart' attached to an empty skull. I might face the possibility that if something goes wrong with a future pregnancy that isn't discovered until the last trimester, it might be my last one. Because being forced to carry to term and deliver 'normally' might put an end to my ability to have other children.

I'm feeling very, very incentivized to go produce babies for the fatherland today, let me tell you. Culture of life, my foot. At my age, it probably makes me permanently undateable to admit in public to wanting children at some point, but I do. And yet today, for the first time, thinking about getting pregnant seems intrinsically scary. Not in the 'how in god's name does anybody afford it' sense, which everyone seems to worry about, but in the 'this could put me in the ground or cripple me' sense.

One of the momentous things the right wing noise machine has done over the years is to turn our political debate into an endless argument over how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. They've given us Seinfeld politics: arguments about nothing. Arguments that have made their out-of-the-mainstream views on abortion seem reasonable. In theory, they say, life begins at the moment of conception so all abortion should be illegal. In theory, they say, we all live in bright, happy families that would be irredeemably scarred if one of their womenfolk secretly decided on her own to get an abortion. In theory, they say, a fetus is aware and can feel pain.

But it isn't about nothing, about imaginary people in some theoretical perfect world. It's about the real women that the Supreme Court is treating like disinterested bystanders. It's about me and my own right to life. What all their theories and justifications boil down to is this: My life and health are not worth as much to them as the potential life of a fetus that has yet to develop a functional forebrain.

There is no other civil statute that I know of that's binding on any person in this country that requires them to give up their life or health for another. If a homeless person, a fully functional adult who is indisputably alive, dies of exposure to the elements on the sidewalk in front of my house I cannot be prosecuted for refusing to let them sleep on my couch. I can't be faulted under the law for refusing to donate bone marrow to a relative with leukemia, even if they can't find any other donors but me. And if I did want to donate that bone marrow, but the doctors thought that I didn't understand the risk of doing so, felt that I was under duress or wasn't in my right mind, they wouldn't let me take the risk of undergoing the donation procedure. If I died in a car crash and a cherub-cheeked 13 year old honors student who's my exact tissue match desperately needed a transplant, doctors would have to let my perfectly useful organs, that I didn't even need anymore, go to waste if I hadn't signed up to be an organ donor.

Get that? Not only might I have to sacrifice my health or life for an anencephalic fetus that was incapable of even drawing a breath, my government and George W. Bush's Supreme Court would respect my wishes about my body more if I were dead.

Gruesome, huh? Yeah. I do indeed find it gruesome that my government is run by people who don't care if I die or am maimed. It's a repugnant obscenity.

Posted by natasha at April 18, 2007 11:03 AM | Women | Technorati links |

Two words: Oh, Canada!

Posted by: Lya Kahlo at April 19, 2007 05:28 AM

It is not about your rights, it is about the rights of that fetus. No law in your or any one's country says that one should sacrifice his or her life for anyone else. What the law is saying that you don't have the right to sacrifice the life of fetus, on your plain whim in such a dastardly manner. Death is never a matter of statistics, one is horrific enough. Relax, your life will never be in trouble for whatever reason, and now the supreme court won't let the life of that fetus be in trouble

Posted by: ansha at April 19, 2007 05:38 AM

Golly, ansha, it's like you didn't read a single word of this post! You can't save the life of a dead fetus. But living women can certainly die because they have no safe options for getting a dead fetus out of their bodies.

Posted by: whatwhat at April 19, 2007 06:21 AM

Ansha - Apparently, not only did you not read what I wrote, but you didn't read any of the links. In fact, women's lives are sometimes at risk in pregnancy and they do sometimes die.

And it is a far more intrusive impingement on my personal space to have something living off of my body than to have someone sleep in my living room for a night. But you don't care. La, la, la, women will be fine. Bull. You don't even consider the woman. You don't care about women at all, you don't care about their fears, my fears. Just some idealized, potential baby.

Screw that. You're supporting the state-sanctioned murder of women.

Posted by: natasha at April 19, 2007 10:26 AM