Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Visions of the Handmaid's Tale....

I've been a bit teary-eyed this afternoon. First, there's all the bad news around the campaign. Bush ahead in the polls. Dan Rather's story being discredited. Even though nobody, not even the White House, has disputed the basic facts/ truth of his Guard service - all people will hear is "documents were a forgery" and they'll blow it all off. Though, a message from Michael Moore made me feel a bit better. But I'm pregnant, so you know the hormones won't let that last.

So then, news that the freaking neocons in the House have managed to sneak in an anti-abortion clause in a recent funding bill. (via XXBlog). If passed, here's what it does. It allows any health care provider - not just doctors, but nurses, pharmacists, hospitals and health care insurers to "opt out" of not only providing abortion procedures/ treatment, but counselling and even referrals. Even in the case of rape or incest. Even in the case where the mother's life is in danger. And they don't have to give you any information at all about where else you might be able to get that information/ treatment.

Now, for no other procedure/ condition do we allow health care providers to "opt-out" on moral grounds. They can't refuse to treat HIV+ patients, or gay patients, or known serial child rapists. Buddhists/ Hindus can't refuse to prescribe or fill prescriptions that contain animal products. I don't believe Muslims can refuse to treat burn patients with pigskin (do they still use that?). Feminist &/or homosexual providers cannot refuse to treat rabid rightwing bigots (such as those who sponsored this bill). They can't refuse to give men vasectomies, or treat them for penile impotence.

So regardless of how you feel about abortion, this bill is highly discriminatory in that it allows *only* people/ providers with a *certain* moral belief (anti-abortion) to "opt-out". Everyone else still has to make that difficult choice of either doing something they find ethically repugnant, or choosing another profession. What this bill is saying, is that my health, my life, my rights as a pregnant woman are far less important than some health care provider's right to NOT fulfill the LEGAL job requirements of the profession they CHOSE of their own free will. And that gets me more than a little steamed. Anyone else in the country who finds themselves having an ethical conflict in doing their jobs is expected to choose another career. I've done it. So has my husband.

Let's put this in perspective. If something were to happen (Maude forbid) to my baby in the next 5 months and he died in utero (like the woman detailed in Rivka's recent entry), my doctor could refuse to do a D&E to remove the dead fetus from my womb. If I lived in a less liberal-minded community (or one where there were a limited number of doctors), I could be forced to carry a dead baby - possibly bleeding until either my body finally got around to expelling the dead tissue on it's own with a spontaneous abortion, or labor was induced, in which case I would deliver the dead child vaginally. The D&E is by far the safest option. It carries a 4% complication rate. Vaginal labor, however carries a 29% complication rate - and all the pain and trauma to the body that regular labor entails. Spontaneous abortion is by far the least safe option. There's a high danger that not all of the fetus would be expelled, leaving me at increased risk of infection. And in the 2nd/ 3rd trimester, if the dead fetus remains in the womb too long it can cause an "abnormal activation of blood clotting systems" that can cause serious health issues.

If this law passes, I could be forced to put my life, my health at higher risk of jeapordy - to assuage someone else's guilty conscience. Someone else who had the CHOICE of not putting themselves in that difficult position to begin with. So bottomline, someone else's choice to continue to work in a profession they're obviously not suited for is far more important than my health and wellbeing. And the fact that the neocons trust HMO's or some strange clerk at the pharmacy to make moral decisions regarding my life, my body - which they would gladly deny me absolutely infuriates me.

Why keep up the pretense? Why not just repeal the citizenship & voting rights of women? Make me a permanent ward of the state or property of my husband. Outlaw birthcontrol and contraception and force women to take piss tests every month. As soon as the stick turns blue haul us off to a maternity prison for 10 months where every aspect of our lives is carefully monitored and controlled. What we eat, how much exercise we do. No access to alcohol, cigarettes or hard drugs, of course. And while we're at it, forbid caffeine & aspartame, too. Of course, once the baby comes you're turned out on the street. They won't help you obtain healthcare for the baby. They won't help you to get a job to buy a damned car seat, let alone the rent. They won't help you fix the broken furnace or repair a leaky roof in the baby's room. And they sure as hell won't help you leave your abusive husband/ boyfriend. You think it's farfetched. It's not.

Curt doesn't understand why I let politics affect me so emotionally - on a personal scale. He doesn't understand. All the things that I write about that happen to women in other parts of the world - Africa, the Middle East. They could happen here. They're trying to make them happen here. It's already beginning.

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