Abortion: Stories Women Tell

Abortion: Stories Women Tell is an HBO documentary detailing the footing of abortion access in Missouri, a state where restrictive laws render it one of the most difficult states in the nation to obtain an abortion. Women often have to drive hundreds of miles to reach an abortion provider, and within the state are subject to a 72 hour wait period even if the baby is afflicted with a condition not compatible with life.

This is a good documentary, highly watchable, and it makes an effort to allow both sides to speak to the camera. Clinic security guard “Chi Chi” is a character unto herself, snidely telling off protesters- “I wish I could abort HIM!”- she quips of one, and castigating women who churn out babies for welfare (her words, not mine).

We are introduced to soldiers on both sides of the line: clinic escorts who usher shell shocked patients to and from vehicles, pro-life activists who make a veritable career from organizing pro-life events and protesting at clinics. At one pro-life dinner a teary eyed Susan Jaramillo takes the stage like a quasi rock star, telling her tale of abortion woe and destruction. Her books are for sale on a nearby table.

In the documentary numerous women describe their decision to seek out an abortion. Most cite financial distress, a few cite abusive husbands/ boyfriends, one woman sought an abortion when she learned the father of her child was married. A few women terminate pregnancies after the baby is diagnosed with severe anomalies.

I had a lot of sympathy for all people featured, yes, even the obnoxious preachers raining hell fire on bewildered patients stumbling into the clinic. I can see why people hate them, but having known militant pro-lifers myself, I understand where they’re coming from. They truly believe they are fighting the most heinous form of murder known to humanity.

My own views on abortion are not so clear cut. I’m unsure if I’m pro-choice or pro-life. I’ll tell you my views and maybe you can let me know what I am.

I absolutely believe the unborn baby is a nascent form of human life. How anyone could pretend otherwise, even atheists, I cannot understand. As my friend the atheist once said: Everyone who is for abortion was born. Not complicated right?

I also believe, that as a nascent form of life, the unborn baby is precious and deserving of protection.

However: I also believe forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term is tantamount to rape. Pregnancy and childbirth involve the penetration of the mother’s body, both of her uterus and vagina, sometimes other parts- even if the baby is going “out” the body is still being penetrated, sometimes horrifically (yes I know the “horrific” part firsthand). Penetration without consent is rape.

So on the one hand you have the taking of a human life- murder- and on the other hand you have rape. Forgive me if I can’t decide which is worse!

I have one other thought on abortion, and this is something pro-lifers refuse to acknowledge: women will always have abortions. It doesn’t matter how many laws you lay down. Women will seek and obtain abortions even where it is illegal.

Therefore, if you are faced with an inevitable abortion, and you can either lose one life (the baby’s) or two lives (the baby’s and the mom’s), you are ethically obligated to protect the one life you can reach- the mother’s! Why pro-lifers refuse to see this is beyond me. If they successfully outlaw abortion there will be MORE loss of human life at the hands of shoddy purveyors of abortion, not less!

While Abortion: Stories Women Tell attempts to be even handed, it comes out slanted for the pro-choice side. I’m not sure if this is because the pro-lifers featured are so obnoxious, although one pro-choice SJW type gives a pestiferous rant toward the end of the film, or if it was deliberate. Either way this is one of the better abortion documentaries I’ve seen, and I recommend it to anyone with ninety minutes to spare. It is available on HBO GO as of this posting.

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Polycystic Avian Syndrome

This morning I had an appointment with the new doctor. The results of the triple screen came in slightly elevated for Down Syndrome, but I knew from past experience these screenings have high false positive rates. Also, they gave me the information a month too late so I’m out of the window for an amniocentesis or medical termination (not that I would necessarily want one). As I alluded to before, though I didn’t know this when I chose the doctor from “the book,” the office appears to somehow be associated with the local crisis pregnancy center, a pro-life enterprise helping mothers who fall pregnant under less than ideal circumstances. It’s hard to tell how much of their clientele yields from it but there is a solid representation of teen moms and surly boyfriends in the waiting room.

I discussed the results with the on-staff midwife since the doctor continues to remain AWOL. I knew due to my age (“ancient” says my son) I was at increased risk of having a baby with Down Syndrome- somewhere in the 1-2% zone. But the results of the triple screen put me at a 1:145 odds which is actually a better statistic than the general one for my ancient counterparts. But it is still worse than the 1:270 cutoff used to deem women at risk.

I calmly explained to her that I understood these screenings have false positives and I wasn’t too worried. But I was curious, what happens to women as far along as me who do want to terminate? Is it even legal? Do they make exceptions for medical situations?

From her reaction my question didn’t fall on hospitable ears. “You would have to go somewhere else,” she said vaguely, rustling papers and avoiding eye contact. (Where somewhere else? Another practice? State? Country?) “And it would have to be a saline abortion to make sure the baby isn’t born alive.” She then said I should have a sonogram “So I could see my baby.” I suddenly realized she was trying to talk me out of a theoretical abortion I didn’t even want.

I didn’t delve further and they sent me to the basement storage closet for my sonogram. It’s cramped quarters down there, the waiting room the size of a modest bathroom. In strolled one of the aforementioned teen couples- the guy sporting those miraculously aloft baggy pants, and a hefty mother-to-be sporting tight leggings displaying more of her underwear and ample derriere than I needed to see.

They were both glued to their phones except for the occasional harsh exchange of words. The guy was agitated, pacing relentlessly back and forth in the small hallway muttering along to music off his earphones. He’d sit for a few minutes then get back up to pace. The Steve Harvey show was on TV, and though it’s not my cup of tea I have to admit it was kind of funny. He hosted a comedienne who joked her standard for boyfriends was a few real teeth and the ability to walk.

Then Mr. Harvey interviewed an expert on Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. The teen mom snapped out of her phone coma. “I got that!” she said excitedly. “I got that!!”

“You got what?” asked her boyfriend.

“Polycystic… polycystic… avian syndrome.”

“You don’t got nuthin.”

“Yes I do!” she retorted, all offense. “I got cysts on my… my… avians.”

He remained unimpressed and returned to his phone. I wondered how these two managed to create a baby together, yet all the while he never knew she had a serious medical condition? Then he announced he needed to charge his phone, and as it turned out the only outlet was behind my seat. I wasn’t about to argue with a guy with knuckle tattoos so I switched seats. Well the girlfriend would have none of this and started chewing him out for making a pregnant woman surrender her seat for his sorry ass (her words). She then tried to make me take her seat- which would mean I’d be sitting next to the boyfriend- but by the grace of all the saint statues in the office, the sonographer called me in.

Everything was perfect with the baby, who continues to measure big which is a good sign. All of my babies except the overachiever were born big, but she came into the world a little peanut.

Better to Raise Geese

It’s a Girl is another incredibly depressing documentary that, like Black Fish, took me by surprise. While I didn’t expect a cheerful 60 minutes, the film opens with an Indian woman casually describing how she killed eight of her newborn girls and buried them in a shallow grave decorated with weedy flowers. The documentary only goes downhill from there.

It’s a Girl is about female infantcide and feticide in India and China. Many millions of girls– some experts put the total at 200 million– have been aborted or killed at birth in both countries by families under heavy pressure to produce a boy. Worse yet, in India, mothers who aren’t producing boys are killed by husbands impatient for a son. These crimes are rarely if ever prosecuted by cultures tolerant of the lust for boys. As one Chinese proverb puts it: It is better to raise geese than to raise girls. The brutality touches all social strata; beauty queen Pooja Chopra was nearly killed at birth, and her family was educated and middle class. Indeed, It’s a Girl features an Indian doctor who was starved, poisoned, and assaulted by her husband and mother-in-law in an effort to coerce her into aborting twin girls. As she puts it, if this can happen to an educated woman like her, what is going on in the villages?

The segment on China was even more horrifying. At least in India the practice of forced abortion isn’t a national pasttime, complete with paid snitches and a police force to enforce the effort. The docu shows some of the most devastating photographs I’ve ever seen– weeping, heavily pregnant chinese women herded together in cramped quarters awaiting forced abortions, because they had exceeded the one to two child limit.

An ironically placed 1995 clip of Hillary Clinton decrying the practice of forced abortion brought the elephant in the living room to the fore: where is the western feminist outcry against the feticide and infanticide of millions of girls? If this is not a feminist cause, what is? But somehow the campus feminists aren’t particularly energized to address the brutal practices that not only snuff out young female lives, but terrorize and even kill mothers coerced and forced into abortions and infanticide. Maybe western feminists don’t care what happens to third world women. Maybe they’ve been so conditioned to view abortion as a good thing, that the disconnect is too much for them. Or maybe they’re environmentalists who see it as a boon to get rid of those pesky babies before they can pollute the earth. Not even Michelle Obama– a mother of two daughters– would address the issue of forced abortion on a recent trip to China.

Sadly these countries will probably get what they have coming to them soon enough. There is already a massive gender imbalance amongst sexually mature adults, with 40,000,000 “extra” Chinese males who will probably remain unmarriageable because there simply aren’t enough women to go around. Unmarried young men are, statistically, the greatest instigators of crime and social unrest, and this is already being witnessed in China with a rise in sex crimes and female trafficking. Ironically enough, families are kidnapping young girls, not to have a daughter but to ensure a daughter-in-law (a family whose young daughter was kidnapped is featured in the docu).

It was interesting to hear the “right to life” discussed outside the context of the American pro-life movement, which I think most people have simply grown numb to. One Indian advocate pointed out that the right to life is the most fundamental human right a civilization can institute. If we kill babies because they’re girls, why not kill babies for being ugly? Or for any other number of reasons? As I’ve related before, this issue hits home for me because my parents did not want a girl when I was born. Had I been born during the age of ultrasounds, and had I not been born right under the gun of Roe. vs. Wade, I’m sure they would have considered an abortion. It also hits home for me because, as the mother of six girls, I’m very grateful indeed to live in a culture that hasn’t institutionalized female feticide and infanticide.

Of course, Americans find plenty of other reasons to abort their children, to the tune of more than a million a year– 17 out of every 1000 women of child bearing age (the high was 1981 with a rate of 30:1000). Strangely enough this isn’t much lower than China’s abortion rate of 24 per 1000 women. Maybe China needn’t bother with the snitches and police: in NYC for example, more babies are aborted each year than are born, for certain demographics. And it’s all done voluntarily.