Thursday, February 9, 2012

The dark side of the pro-life argument

There was a time before Roe v. Wade when we lived in a land that enforced the law that if you got pregnant, you gave birth to the child. Most of us, including me, don't know what that time was like. Here is a reminder (from the comments on a Salon article):

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My mother graduated from nursing school in the late 50s. While she was training in the emergency room, she befriended a young OB/Gyn and made an agreement that extended to a couple of other nurses. Whenever a young woman came in having had a botched abortion, the nurse would get in contact with that particular doctor no matter where he was or what he was doing, and he would take care of them.

Why was this necessary? Well, none of the other doctors would treat these girls. NONE of them. My mother tells horror stories of little girls as young as 13 or 14 being abandoned in hospital hallways until after they were dead. It was an unspoken rule that the doctor was not to show up until they were cold.

The hardest for her is the case of a little girl who tried to give herself an abortion with a knitting needle. She wasn't even a teenager yet. When her mother came into her bedroom, the child was almost unconscious and the bed was soaked with blood. The mother called her preacher and they prayed over this dying child until morning.

When they finally got the kid in the emergency room, she was given some blood, but no other treatment. There was nothing that could have been done to save her. It was far too late, there was already a massive infection in place and she was too damaged to survive any surgery.

The girl was in and out of consciousness for hours, crying and terrified and knowing that she would die. Her family left her there. My mother was the one that sat with her and held her hand while she died. That kid was 11. My mother was 20 (still a kid herself). This didn't change for another ten years or so. That's a lot of dead women.

My mother (in her 70s now) and her entire graduating class are some of the most adamantly pro-choice women I've ever met.

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These are the kinds of stories that the justices of the Supreme Court weighed when they made their 7-2 decision supporting the right to abortion. Even strong Catholics like Caitlin Flanagan are swayed by the truth of what it was like before abortion was legal and safe.

If you're against safe-and-legal abortion, you need to read these links. Read about the blood and the dying girls, about the doctors and nurses and families who treated them with disgust. You need to be fully informed because you are dealing with live and death, just as a woman considering an abortion (also a live-and-death decision) should be fully and truthfully informed. You also need to know that some medical personnel still treat women this way.

Don't doubt the truth of these stories. With the efficacy of our modern medicine, we forget an important medical fact--women are prone to large blood loss in childbirth or miscarriage.


"A river of blood runs through The Choices We Made, and it runs throughout the history of womankind. ...[A]ll the women and men who made possible a context in which an abortion could be performed legally, safely, and even humanely—together they say: Enough."
- Caitlin Flanagan

3 comments:

A Political Junkie said...

And this is why I find candidates like Mr. Santorum particularly frightening. If he wanted to take his beliefs to the furthest end of the spectrum, perhaps, once President, he could promote legislation requiring women to wear chastity belts to prevent that "nasty act" from taking place outside of human reproductive needs.

ModeratePoli said...

@PJ, I don't find this aspect of Santorum scary because I don't believe he could convince the country to go down that route. The majority of Americans support the availability of contraception and safe/legal abortion as a backup. If you seriously try to take away these "rights" (or whatever we call these services that we depend on), you'll have 60+% of the US fighting mad.

Be sure to read the anonymous comment here.

ModeratePoli said...

I didn't say this strongly enough in my post, but you should read Caitlin Flanagan's piece. It's personal, emotional, heartfelt, and devastating. I've never forgotten it since I first read it almost 5 years ago. Read it when you can.