I was driving with my girl through the center of town when we were stopped in traffic because a group of people were protesting something up ahead. There were people of all ages holding signs. As we got closer, we saw that they were protesting the local Planned Parenthood clinic that just happens to be right smack on the corner of a heavily traveled intersection. What were they protesting? The health care they provide for women? Nope. The free to low-cost preventive care? Nope. The family planning services? Nope. They were protesting – what else? – abortion.
I hate writing about this because it is such a touchy subject. On the one hand, I can see where ending a pregnancy can be seen as an unsavory thing to do, especially if you see life as beginning at conception. I learned in biology class in college that, yes, indeed, the fetus is alive. There is no doubt of that. Science has told us that it feels stimuli early on and pain some weeks after conception. In fact, it was that question that influenced the Supreme Court in Roe v. Wade. So, yes, abortion is ending a life.
On the other hand, women have every right to do with their bodies as they see fit, given that they understand what is going on, of course. You wouldn’t hold a 9 year-old girl to the same standard as a 20 year-old woman when it comes to making such an enormously big decision as ending a pregnancy is. Oh, yes, dear reader, I have seen two 9 year-olds be pregnant. And I have seen the agonizing decision by their parents to end the pregnancies.
See, that’s the thing. I’m yet to meet a woman who takes the decision lightly. I’m sure it’s agonizing, or troubling at least. Yes, there is anecdotal evidence – which is not evidence, by the way – that some women use abortion as family planning, as birth control. But all the evidence points to it being a hard decision to take.
The protesters on that day were particularly nasty. They had the usual signs that read, “Abortion Kills Children.” Other signs were more uncalled for, such as, “Abortion Makes You A Murderer.” Mind you, abortion has been decriminalized, last I heard. And then there was a van with signs all over it announcing the “side effects” of abortion, including depression, schizophrenia, and other mental issues. None of that is true, by the way. There is no evidence that women who have abortions will go on to have mental disease at a higher incidence than women who do not have abortions. They are basing their conclusions on their own biases against abortions and even downright lying about it to discourage women from having abortions.
The issue of abortion is precisely why I am so confused about the Republicans. On the one hand, they cry about “Obamacare” because it interferes with the relationship between a doctor and their patient. On the other hand, they have no problem supporting legislature that interferes with the relationship between a doctor and their female patient. Because, you see, an abortion isn’t something that you do over a lunch break. It is a process that includes a discussion with a licensed health care provider, someone who has been trained to perform abortions as safely as possible. (Abortions are not without risks, but these risks do not exceed the risks of other same-day surgeries.) Not only that, but organizations like Planned Parenthood are not abortion factories. They are well organized to provide care and services, not to extinguish life as we know it.
I wish the discussion about abortion was more grown up than it is and has been. I wish I didn’t have to cringe when talking about it with female friends because of the guilt that I feel for them not being able to make a decision in the privacy of the patient-provider relationship. No, it has to be this huge, convoluted thing out in the open, discussed by anyone and everyone with an agenda.
Maybe when I get around to digesting this in my head I’ll tackle the misconceptions – no pun intended – thrown out there by the anti-abortion, anti-patient-provider groups.