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.

Duggar Apologetics

As a former message board addict, I can tell you there’s nothing that gets undies in a bunch like the dreaded Duggar threads.  The brood of 19 kids, plus the ever-jolly Jim Bob and Michelle, inspire vitriol that would make a pirate blush.  In defense of the Duggars and large families everywhere, here are my responses to the same old arguments that are pulled from the holsters of the Duggar Despisers.

Attack #1: The Duggars are polluting mother earth with their unfettered reproduction.  Babies are pollution!

I always find it fascinating that save the earth types like to cry “overpopulation” while wholesale ignoring the devastating environmental effects of divorce.  Large groups of people sharing a single dwelling is a highly efficient way to utilize resources.  I believe the Duggars only have 3 bedrooms– one for the girls, one for the boys, and the love chambers of Jim Bob and Michelle.  I can’t remember if the baby gets a nursery or not.  In fact, before their fame inspired them to start taking plane trips hither and thither, their environmental impact was probably on par with a divorced, plane-vacation taking, child custody swapping (all that kid shuffling requires a lot of gasoline), two-unit dwelling smaller family.

Attack #2: The Duggars are “selling” their kids to TV to rake in cash.

I can’t argue with this one, as I could never in good conscience put my kids on TV.  I really fear one of those little Duggars will follow in the footsteps of MacCaulay Culkin with child star syndrome.  How can a little kid be followed around with cameras, and televised worldwide, without getting their brains a bit warped?

Jim Bob and Michelle explain that they see the show as a Christian mission.  I personally know people who have been touched by the Duggars and I’m sure they have brought some into Christianity.  But I do wonder why they have let the show go on as long as it has, in the manner in which it has.  Couldn’t they get a show on some Christian channel and be a little more low key, for the children’s sake?

Attack #3.  They eat disgusting, low-class food while they should be using all their land and free child labor to grow organic fruits and vegetables.

Jim Bob has a bit of a beer belly but none of the Duggars are fat or unhealthy.  I personally would not want to partake of Tater Tot Casserole, but how people eat is really their own business.  Anyway, how many of us can honestly say we eat healthy 100% of the time?

Attack #4: The Duggar kids aren’t really as happy as they look on TV.  It’s all a scam.  The kids are miserable and terrorized when the cameras stop rolling.

As the mother of a large family myself, I can assure you that orchestrating even a simple task, like, say, having everyone get their shoes on at the same time, can be a nearly impossible feat.  There’s really no way to get so many little kids to pull off a well-orchestrated, televised scam of fake happiness.  I’m sure that with the Duggars, what you see is what you get.

Attack #5: Such a large family is a burden on society and costs taxpayers their hard-earned dollars.

As far as I know, the Duggars have never utilized any kind of public assistance, even before they became famous.  If Arkansas has a low-cost family health insurance plan, they probably made use of it before they hit the big time, but I don’t know that for a fact and I wouldn’t necessarily consider that a public assistance program.

Since they have homeschooled all their children, they will have saved taxpayers 228 years of public school tuition by the time the youngest is out into the world.  That’s approximately $2,600,000 in Arkansas per pupil expenditures.

Attack #6: The Duggars are against birth control and abortion which threatens my right to use birth control and have abortions.

The Duggars have always been restrained in their political stance and even their stance concerning birth control and abortion.  When they talk about their decision to stop using birth control, they frame it as a religious and personal decision.  I don’t think I’ve ever even heard them talk about abortion (at least not on the show), but they did hold a funeral for their miscarried baby, and cards handed out at the service showed a picture of the child’s hand.  This was perceived by the unbiased press as harsh anti-abortion rhetoric.

Last I checked, there is freedom of belief in this country.  It’s not like the Duggars are picketing military funerals with obscene signs, or detonating bombs at public marathons.  So rest assured that you will still be able to snatch up all the birth control and abortions your heart desires, despite the existence of the Duggars.

Attack #7:  I just don’t like the Duggars.

That’s ok.  You don’t have to like them!