(I put this up. I took it down. I put it up again. I took it down again. I am putting it up again, with a few additions. If I get attacked, so be it. I’m ready for it. I think.)
There are several bloggers upset about a post over at Mom Logic written by a guest blogger named “Gina”. (I have chosen not to link to the post in question because I feel that by doing so I’d be perpetuating their obvious quest for traffic. If you wish to find it, by all means knock on Google’s door.) She equates miscarriages with abortions and basically states that if you’re prochoice, you shouldn’t start whining whenever you have a miscarriage. She wrote something like, “Sure, it’s a baby when you want it, a fetus when you don’t.”
Now, I could state how I feel about what she wrote. It may even come as a surprise to some people. But I’m choosing to not add any more fuel to that fire because it’s a waste of time and energy and precisely what Mom Logic wants.
So, instead of ranting about “Gina” and what she wrote, I’m going to rant about something I read over the weekend that had me in tears.
Did you get wind of the story out of Florida? The one where an abortion doctor is having his license revoked (justifiably so) because of a live birth abortion? No? Yes? Maybe? Well, here it is. (CNN article).
“According to the suit, Williams, then 18, discovered while being treated for a fall that she was 23 weeks pregnant. She went to a clinic to get an abortion on the morning of July 20, 2006, after receiving medication and instructions the previous day.“
For those of you who don’t want to read the whole sordid (highly disturbing) story, let me break it down for you:
1). 18-year-old girl gets pregnant.
2). Girl doesn’t realize it for 23-weeks.
3). Girl finds out. Schedules an abortion.
4). Abortion goes horribly, horribly wrong.
5). Girl (awake) gives birth to living, breathing creature.
6). Staff freaks out. Screams.
7). Baby (fetus) gasps for air for 5 minutes.
8). Fetus (baby) is put in biohazard bag and disposed of.
9). Girl sues everyone in the name of her dead baby daughter.
“Williams filed the suit individually and “as personal representative of the estate of Shanice Denise Osbourne, deceased,” the suit said.“
It was her choice to have sex. It was her choice to have an abortion. And now it’s her choice to sue the doctor and his clinic in the name of her baby daughter—the same fetus she chose to abort.
And now it’s my choice to judge her for her choice, specifically that last one.
Sure, it’s a fetus when you don’t want it, and a baby when you see some dollar signs. Because that’s precisely the message she seems to be sending.
So, I write this to all of you who fall on the pro-choice side of the Internet: Get mad about this not about what some woman named “Gina” wrote on a Web site whose advertisers are currently thanking for the spike traffic.
Get mad about this.
Isn’t it possible that this story could very well become the pro-life movement’s dream come true? Couldn’t we have a real life Citizen Ruth on our hands? What if someone gets a hold of this woman and turns her into the poster child for just how ugly abortion really is? Even if you don’t think so—even if you don’t think it’s a life until that baby is born and breathing on its own—many, many people disagree with you.
A few months ago, Sarah Palin was shown on TV in front of a live turkey slaughter and people completely freaked out. But isn’t that the way it is? And if you’re a poultry eater (like myself), shouldn’t you be able to watch that without uttering one word of disgust? Dare I suggest that what we saw take place on that video was actually less gruesome than what goes on at many other slaughter houses across the country?
Couldn’t it be said then that what happened to this woman during her abortion is precisely why pro-lifers wish to put an end to it? Could this story open up a HUGE floodgate into the gritty truth behind abortion, at least when it comes to the pro-life message?
I ask a lot of questions here, and I think that you should as well. If you’re pro-choice, then try and see how this might look to an opponent. That’s all I’m asking. It’s probably pretty clear to you that an abortion isn’t supposed to go this way, but how is it supposed to go? I reckon that to a pro-life person—a person who believes a baby is a baby the moment its conceived—this is precisely what an abortion looks like and that this story exposes the brutal truth.
What I’m suggesting is this: no matter what side of your bread you butter, there should be at least one facet to this story that deserves your anger and attention. There must be something you would like to change about it.
So, don’t get mad at “Gina” or Mom Logic for chumming at a little traffic, get mad about this.
Thanks for putting this back up. Someone is always going to be offended, that someone is not me. I think you did very well to present the issue without getting on a “high horse/soap box/what-have-you”. I don’t think most people, me included, could do that.
The story horrified me. I am pro-choice for a number of reasons. Simplest being, I was raised that way by a very liberal mother who (my drunken father, not my mother told me) she herself has had an abortion. She told me, if it wasn’t legal it would still happen, only girls would be dying. True.
I have had a couple friends who have had them. I love my friends, I stick by their choice. I know it doesn’t make them bad people.
Fact is, now a mother myself, I would not (could not!) have an abortion. I would find it morally wrong for myself. I know what it is like to carry a child, to birth one, to raise one. But I think that the choice to have a child, or not, should be up to the individual. It is a choice they will have to live with and not one that I can understand or have a right to judge.
I feel sorry for those girls and women that have to make that decision. I don’t think it is ever an easy one. My heart goes out to them.
P.S. I’m just not angry, only saddened.
Before I had a child of my own I was pro choice and I think I still am. But like Autumn, I could never have an abortion now. I am so happy I never got pregnant and had an abortion before I actually wanted a child because I would most definitely have regrets about that now. Huge regrest.
Like Autumn, I am so happy I never had to make that decision and feel badly for anyone who has to.
If there’s one thing that makes me really angry about this it’s the fact that so many people simply refuse to use protection. I would like to stop as many pregnancies as possible ahead of time.
I was sorry to see you had taken this down yesterday, I think I was the first commenter and by the time I came back to see what kind of discussion had cropped up, the post was gone. I hope my comment yesterday didn’t offend in any way, it wasn’t intended to.
I still don’t see that there’s anything here to be angry or upset about other than the fact that this girl went in for a legal medical procedure that was horrifyingly mishandled. The inappropriateness of the actions of the medical staff across the board here seems enough from where I stand to have their licenses revoked entirely.
It doesn’t make me any less comfortable with abortion being legally available to women – and I type that as a woman currently pregnant with her first child. I would want to have the choice to go forward (or not) with this pregnancy, and once I had made that choice I would want that choice handled with the same professionalism and respect extended by medical teams to patients who choose all manner of other medicaly proceudures. For me, that’s the bottom line.
Do I think there are women who have abortions and then suffer emotionally even if the abortion went as planned? Sure. Just as I think there are women out there who hate the idea of ending their pregnancies but feel it necessary or proper for them for any NUMBER of reasons, whether those reasons be medical or not. Just because you have an abortion doesn’t mean you don’t equate the fetus with a living breathing person, people have abortions for many, many reasons.
So I have to disagree with your argument that maybe pro lifers see this as the way an abortion is supposed to go. Because that’s flawed right from the outset. Pro lifers may think that abortion is flat out murder, but that DOESN’T mean that it should ever, ever, EVER go the way it did for this woman.
I guess the easiest way to back up my argument on that is that there are a lot of pro lifers who fight for laws that would require a pregnant woman to have and to watch an ultrasound before the decision could be made to abort. I think that’s abhorrent. Yes, pro lifers may disagree with the availability of the choice to end a pregnancy, but it doesn’t mean they get to decide that it ‘should’ be any more emotionally painful for a woman than it already is in many cases.
This is getting long, so I’ll stop there! I do hope you leave the post up this time though!
Well, I’m mad!
I didn’t know you could even HAVE an abortion at 23 weeks. FIVE MONTHS?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?
I think it’s crazy that she’s suing, but at the same time I’ll tell you what I am angry about: why in the hell would anyone on this planet who is in a MEDICAL profession (and took an oath to “first do no harm”) place a living, breathing, newborn fetus INTO A BIOHAZARD BAG?!? THAT was not the correct way to go about this. Falsifying records after that was done, if they were indeed falsified, was not the correct way to go about this. I question his judgment as a physician if that’s the decision he made under pressure.
As for this partial birth, late-term abortion stuff, if this is what abortion is about, then I am pro-life. Sorry… as liberal and normally pro-choice as I am, this is not okay with me.
Julie: I have to agree with you there. 23-weeks is astonishingly late to me. Emory was already moving around and flicking me off at 23-weeks. :[
I know that they have late-term abortions when the mother’s life is in danger or the baby is going to die anyway and I can understand that, but to do it just because? Well, that might make me lose sleep at night.
I’m in medical school, and we just had two ethics lectures about abortion and how to manage very pre-term babies. First off, most abortion providers won’t perform them at 23 weeks. The usual cut off is 20 weeks, except in the rare case that the mother’s life is threatened. (A few states have legislation, but for the most part this is provider-specific.) Also, a baby born at 23 weeks has a 30% chance of survival or less (depending on various factors), even if the medical professionals do everything they can.
Personally, I see this as a failure of the medical professionals to do what was appropriate and this is absolutely the sort of thing someone should lose their license over. Also, where was the MD? He wasn’t even at the office when all of this was happening.
It’s just a sad situation all around.
I had a lot of questions and thoughts and feelings while reading your post but the strongest is when I read your own, “try and see how this might look to your opponents.”
Opponents? Is the pro-life vs pro-choice issue a violent game? Or an all-out war?
I personally sit on a fence, I actually agree with both sides and I am disgusted and saddened by the wrath with which both sides are constantly trying to attack, deface, or one-up the other.
Pro-lifers will always be pro-lifers, pro-choicers will always be pro-choicers. Sure, under circumstances an individual’s opinion will change and this story may sway a lot of minds (in both directions, I think) but it’s not like there will ever be a victory for either side.
I am an idealist. BIG idealist. In my world the Pro-C would be able to have their choices without the Pro-Ls telling them they’re evil or murderers and the Pro-L could want babies live without the Pro-Cers telling them they’re oppressed or fanatics.
How did it become any one else’s business what either side did? How did the using of people and situations become public fodder for fueling the fire of pointing and screaming?
I’m an idealist but I’m not an idiot. I know it’s human nature to stick our noses in others’ business and to get passionate about beliefs and to try to defend them but where did respect fall out of the equation? Curiosity? sure. Blatant manipulation of incidents to righteously shove in another’s face? Shitty.
Thank you for bringing this to light. Why was it never brought up by anyone other blog before but that dumb Gina one was everywhere? Oh well. Anyway, I am horrified at this. HORR.IF.IED!
It goes beyond a pro-life, pro-choice stance and into medical ethics. Because the staff and the doctor here are at such a terrible fault. Yes. Yes, I totally will be judge, jury and executioner.
This part: “Two search warrants found nothing, but officers executing a third warrant “found the decomposing body of a baby in a cardboard box in a closet,” the suit said.” Just goes to show what these people were trying to cover up a serious error and that what the did was wrong and they knew it!
Obviously this poor girl (and yeah she is a girl, 18 by age does not equal maturity) had no clue what happens to a fetus at 23 weeks. How at that gestational age it can be considered “viable” and neither did the medical staff. Where was her family? Her mother? Why didn’t anyone try to educate her on what she was doing? I can’t even choose a birth control without getting packet on the side effects of it and here she is just getting a medical procedure done without any sort of talking to? There has to be way more to this story tan what we’re hearing.
In the end, there are just so many things wrong with this whole situation that I don’t think you can group it into either pro-life or pro-choice. It has to have it’s own unique category. A big giant FAIL all around.
I can’t help but wonder if this girl gave serious consideration to her other choices before choosing the abortion? I’m am firmly pro-life, but on the same boat as Autumn and Anon where I am a mother and don’t think that I, myself would choose abortion as my choice.
I made this way too long. Sorry. It’s a good conversation, though. I’m glad you re-posted it.
Chair: I have to clear something up because I think you took a word and ran with it? Not sure. I am entirely too sensitive these days.
Opponents as defined by Webster:
1 : one that takes an opposite position (as in a debate, contest, or conflict)
While it may not be the case in your situation, because you can see both sides, it is the case for others. The word “opponent” doesn’t suggest that it need be an all out war or a viscous game—at least not according to Webster. :]
I think there is total fault on the part of the medical staff that performed this procedure and also for their actions after the fact. Gross, gross negligence on every level and they probably should be sued on that basis. Those providers have a responsibility to proceed with caution, particularly because of the nature of what they do. There was an abortion doctor on NPR a week or so ago talking, I think she’s written a book. She said she won’t do an abortion without doing an ultrasound first to determine the actual age of the fetus. I think that is wise. I think that aspect of women’s care is still very primative and secret.
But the woman is not without fault. She initiated the situation and she should share some blame. Did they really know in advance that she was that far along?
Abortion is not an ideal situation, but I am pro-choice because I don’t think a woman should bring a child into the world that she is unprepared to support. And for cases of rape or incest, well, those women should never be forced to carry those pregnancies to term if they don’t want to. I also feel that abortion is the last and worse result of a situation that has many opportunities for prevention before it comes to that point and every woman should be informed and have access to the prevention options.
I personally think abortion after the first trimester is wrong. That is the window in my opinion. After that point, it is too late. That should be plenty of time to know and to decide. If someone doesn’t know they are pregnant by that point, there is a gross lack of knowledge that speaks of deeper problems.
Am I right in assuming that pro-lifers are funding this law suit? They have a very spectacular, heart-wrenching case on their hands, but someone needs to talk about the personal responsibility of the woman and the responsibility of the medical staff. That’s what this is about. Turning this into a poster case for the abortion movement is sheer exploitation.
Turning this into a poster case for the abortion movement is sheer exploitation.
But would you put it past anyone?
I should dictionarate (sure, it’s a word.. just don’t look for it in the dictionary) more often. (I wasn’t angry with you, for what it’s worth.)
The abortion debate just always seems to get people to assume a battle-stance and I guess it gets me in defensive-stance. I, too, am generally over-sensitive.
Actually, I tend to be somewhere in the middle like you, Chair, which is why I wanted to put this post back up. I wish both sides could meet up at the fence and try and fix this horrible situation. Because the whole thing sickens me beyond belief.
We have a lot of work to do in order to keep stories like this one where they belong: in minds like that of Stephen King.
No, I don’t put it past anyone. I firmly believe that we need to stop demonizing each other, however. I can understand both sides of the issue, at this point in my life I would never have an abortion, but 20 years ago might have been a different story.
The point is that we are all right and we are all wrong and I respect the pro-lifer’s choice to bring every pregnancy to term and I respect the pro-choicer’s decision to end a pregnancy at 20 and go on to have three children in her 30s. But pro-lifers can’t respect pro-choicers and therein lies the problem. I don’t set limits your ability to have as many children as you want. You have no right to tell me I can’t have an abortion at 20 after I was date raped. We have to co-exist and respect and protect each other even though we may not agree.
I don’t know anyone who believes that abortion is birth control on the level of the pill or other methods. Liberals are troubled by every abortion just like conservatives are. No one wants to see woman in that position and it should trouble every man and woman in this country to think about women or girls in those types of situations.
Abortion is very negative and unpleasant and it is hard for me to imagine women having more than one in their lifetime. I just don’t think statistics would support the theory that abortion is taken lightly or that it is used over and over as birth control. I think pro-lifers use that horrible scenario to demonize pro-choicers, but it just isn’t based in fact.
Understanding and compassion is what I think we need. We need responsible, clear medical guidelines that protect women and doctors and clearly define what is ok and what isn’t. That case clearly isn’t ok.
“Abortion is very negative and unpleasant and it is hard for me to imagine women having more than one in their lifetime.”
I know three women (well) who have had more than one abortion, one of them has had three and that’s when I stopped counting.
Maybe they need to add laws for repeat offenders. Have one. OK fine. Two? Have to have an ultrasound first. Three? Tubes are tied.
I had a thought…
This is an anomaly. Many things about this case were unusual (the late date of the abortion, the astounding lack of competence of the medical team, etc), and this is NOT the way an abortion ‘normally’ goes by any stretch of the imagination.
But I bet, and I’m just riffing off the top of my head here, I have no stats etc. But I really would bet, that were abortion made illegal again, you’d have A LOT more crazy ass, screwed up, emotionally and physically scarring situations like this (because women would be forced to sneak around and get back alley abortions). So to me, the way to prevent it from happening is to give the doctors involved one hell of a hard kick in the proverbial pants, let the woman sue the hell out of them, and make sure that IF a doctor chooses to perform an abortion this late in the game, they DAMN well better do it properly.
On a total side note, I hate that people are assuming that this girl was basically duped into having an abortion because she ‘probably’ didn’t realize there were other ways to handle her pregnancy. The thing is, perhaps they’re right, but it’s EVERY bit as possible that she was well informed and educated and knew just exactly what she was doing and was okay with it. Or that she knew exactly what she was doing, but it was an excrutiating decision for her to make and she was going ahead with anyway. See, that’s the thing about ‘choice’ – if you’re pro-choice, then you’re okay with choices that don’t jive with your own.
As I said before, I’m currently pregnant with my first child. I can’t possibly imagine terminating the pregnancy, but you’d better be sure I’d fight long and hard to preserve the OPTION to do it.
Sorry, sorry, I had another thought, I promise I’ll stop posting after this!
In keeping with my whole pro-choice means being okay with choices that don’t jive with your own thing….if you’re okay with women having the choice to terminate a pregnancy, then you’re okay with it no matter how many times they do it. No matter if they choose to use it as a form of birth control (which by the way, is such a bullsh*t statistic that gets thrown around and I wish I wasn’t too lazy to go find statistics refuting it).
It’s not that I think you should just grant rights to people willy nilly with absolutely no restrictions, but if your stance is that a woman has a right to choose what happens to her own body and to any pregnancy she is carrying, then I don’t see how you can start hanging all kinds of strings off of it, because it’s too slippery a slope.
Anonymous, if you know someone who has had more than three abortions, that woman needs help. I do not think that is acceptable. I don’t believe the government has any role in dictating reproduction on either side of the argument, though.
There is a role for the community and peers to encourage responsible reproductive and sexual lives and behaviors. There is a very deep problem if a woman is having multiple abortions. I don’t personally know anyone who has used abortion as a form of birth control. I’m sure it happens, but my point is that it is not the rule.
Here are some abortion stats from the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform:
– 83% of abortions are obtained in developing countries.
– 52% of women in the US having abortions are under 25. Teens obtain 20% of abortions.
– 60% of all abortions are performed on white women
– 64.4% of abortions are women who have never been married. 18.4% are married women and 9.4% are divorced women.
– 28.7% of women having abortions have family incomes of less than $15K annually
– 19.5% of women having abortions have family incomes between $15-30K
– 38% of women having abortions have family incomes between $30-60K
– It is estimated that 43% of all women will have at least 1 abortion by the time they are 45. 47% of women having abortions have had at least one previous abortion. (Higher number than I would have though, but still shy of the “majority”)
– 93% of abortions occur because of social reasons (child unwanted) 1% rape/incest; 6% health considerations.
– 52% of abortions occur before the 9th week of pregnancy. 25% between 9-10th week. 12% between 11-12th week. Only 1% happen after the 20th week.
While I may not personally agree with a woman who has multiple, multiple abortions, no where do I say that I think anyone can or should limit those procedures. That’s between her and her doctor. I think it would be medically wise for a doctor to consult with her if she’s having multiple abortions. That is a medical issue, not a governmental one.
We all have personal boundaries for what is right and what isn’t, that’s normal. In America, we boundaries that are a little different from our neighbor and that’s our strength and also our weakness. We can’t legislate based on the worse case scenarios, we need to legislate based on the greater good for the most people. Keeping abortion safe and legal is the greater good. Women deserve to have control over when they have children and they deserve to make decisions about their reproductive life that are safe and informed. Innocent children don’t deserve to be brought into the world if they are unwanted, unloved, and ultimately uncared for.
This whole thing pissed me off as well. The only reason this civil suit made it to court is because the fetus was born spontaneously and drew breath. That means a birth and a death certificate were issued by Florida law, paving the way for this woman to ask for damages in the name of the decedent. I think that’s partly why this idea of a Citizen Ruth scenario comes to mind here- if this woman had sought damages for herself as part of a malpractice suit I wouldn’t be surprised in the least, but to make an attempt to profit from an abortion you bought and paid for is duplicitous. After all, the article mentions that someone called the police and tipped them about what happened, so it’s reasonable to assume that an inquiry would have taken place and these people would have lost their licenses and their business anyway.
My personal opinion is that the doctor is negligent because he wasn’t there, but he didn’t commit a crime toward that baby. He falsified documents, which is a different crime. The owner of that clinic (who isn’t a doctor) who disposed of the baby should be charged with manslaughter, plain and simple. She was covering her own ass instead of calling 911.
So maybe this frivolous lawsuit and the abhorrent criminal behavior of the hack abortion clinic does allow the creation of a Citizen Ruth, and that alone is enough to make me mad as hell because I’m pro-choice and I don’t want to give the rabid pro-life agenda more ammunition. But I also think about the what ifs. What if this 18 year old had access to INFORMATION about abortion in general? What if she’d gone to that clinic and been counseled to the effect of, “A 23 week fetus looks like a ‘real’ baby and delivers like a ‘real’ baby and it’s not your typical abortion.” She probably wasn’t. What if she knew from a health class or a pamphlet when a fetus is completely formed and not just a sack of cells or an embryo? Who knows if she knew or cared. But maybe if she had known she’d have made an informed and personal choice. She could have decided to bring that baby to term or abort it when the stakes weren’t so high. Those would have been responsible choices.
Not to add fuel to the fire here, but Jessica, to your last point “maybe if she had known she’d have made an informed and personal choice”…or maybe she’d have made the same choice.
This story saddened me in ways I can’t fully explain. Oh and Michele thanks for putting this back up! This story is important for a lot of reasons. When I think of that little 23 week baby gasping for air and in some reports it bled out after the cord was cut and it was placed in the bag and then just tossed into the trash. My heart aches – a deep mournful ache.
Sure the baby most likely might have not lived even if it were rushed to the hospital – but it never got the chance. The staff freaked out – plain and simple. Not acceptable. The doctor then tried to cover it up via paperwork. Not acceptable.
As for the mother – I cannot believe she is suing on behalf of the baby she wanted to abort. She should not be allowed to sue on behalf of that baby. If she was distraught,traumatized over what she saw, imagine what the baby felt.
(As for being pro choice/life I am in the middle. Meaning I get both sides. I do think the choice starts when you have sex. I do think everyone should be able to have control over their body.)
One other quick thing:
I read that absolutely ridiculous Mom Logic piece and I thought it nothing more than an uninformed, ignorant, arrogant, self-righteous rant from a right-wing Christian. I let just about everything those folks say go in one ear and out the other. This wasn’t any different. I, like you, have a hard time understanding why everyone got so upset about it… if a bum screams something nasty at you on the street do you take it personally? NO! Because he’s CRAZY!
Thanks for posting something that encouraged such intelligent discussion, Michele!
if a bum screams something nasty at you on the street do you take it personally? NO! Because he’s CRAZY! (Ha!)
Why did everyone get so upset about it? Because, just like what we saw with the whole Motrin fiasco, it’s easy. It’s easy to get upset over some brainless rant. It’s easy to write an angry blog piece about it and know that at least half of those reading what you’ve written are going to agree with you and come to your defense.
But this story? This story needs a lot of help and work and attention, imo. This story should not have happened this way. And because it did happen this way and now she is suing in the name of the baby she aborted, I really do believe that the pro life movement could have a field day with this in much the same way we saw in CItizen Ruth. (As Jessica stated above.)
I feel that this story and its outcome poses a much bigger threat to everyone than some rant on Mom Logic.
But whatever. I’m in a mood today, I guess. I just wish things were different.
What worries me here…ok there’s a lot that worries me here but most of it has already been brought up by others, the unmentioned thing that worries me here is a possible lack of training for the medical staff. One enormous consequence of the anti-choice movement has been a precipitous drop in the number of well-qualified abortion providers and in the number of training opportunities. Were the people performing this procedure properly trained? Now, if they are mentally stable adults they should have known better than to do half the foolish things they did once the abortion became especially difficult so I’m not excusing them but it makes me wonder if we’re already seeing a decline toward the back alley scenarios because even licensed professionals aren’t really well trained and up to date.
Thanks for putting this back up. After being mightily provoked during election season I wrote about why I’m pro-choice (http://117hudson.blogspot.com/2008/10/bird-in-hand-is-worth-two-in-bush.html) and it’s really nice to see this sane discussion going on.
In New York abortions can be preformed up to 24 weeks. I know because at my 20 week ultrasound it became a possibility for my husband and I. And, I agree with Kizz, I worry that not enought doctors and medical staff are being trained in how to perform abortions. In most medicals school now you have to seek out abortion training rather than having it as part of the curriculum. This is a legal medical procedure and physicians should be properly trained so awful anamolies like this don’t happen.
Hi M. I get more sad than mad. If I take your general point—the one that unites Sarah Palin and the horrific story of the young woman—it’s that there is no free moral pass, as it were. I’m in agreement on this. If you want to eat meat (and I do), you must not hide from the implications of that. It’s cowardice and hypocrisy. If you want abortion to be an option for women, you can’t hide from what that can really mean — from what really happens, sometimes if not often, if not always. At the end of the day, this is ethics. And integrity.
Being pro-choice (not pro-abortion), I find I can respect the anti-choice position only when it is truly and consistently pro-life. That is, if you oppose abortion AND you oppose war (or the sending of young people into war, particularly when that war is not a direct response to an invasion) AND you oppose capital punishment of any kind, you have a consistent and clear moral stance. You reject the state sanction of murder. I admire and respect the purity of this, and I’d be willing to give it consideration if we could address the one remaining existential issue, which is individual bodily soveriegnty. But let’s leave that aside for the moment. If killing is impermissible, then killing is impermissible. Anything else – anything less, let’s say – is a matter of arbitrary lines and circumstantial deliberations.
In my judgment, life, and nature, are defined in their entirety by the latter. Life in every sense, as lived by every creature as far as I can determine, is a matter of negotiation and reaction to circumstance. In most species this is about survival. Among humans survival is blurred and diluted by superstructural constructs like ethics and morality and religion — such is our grandeur and our fallacy as a species, I guess. We get art on the one hand, debates over abortion and the death penalty and vegetarianism on the other. But in the end, even if perhaps only in the abstract, survival of some sort may be at the bottom of these issues. Survival of the family unit; survival of the herd; survival of the socio-cultural collective, whatever. I “square” my consumption of meat, for example (and it begs the quesiton, doesn’t it? “Square” with whom? Why?), by reminding myself that we are animals at the end of the day, omnivores at that (it’s the key to our success as a species), and it’s perfectly “natural,” evolutionarily speaking, for me to eat anything. What’s not natural is for me to pretend there’s not something brutal, even bestial, in that, and that I’m not responsible for that brutality. I cause it; I condone it; I internalize it, quite literally. If my worldview can’t contain that, I’d better get my broccoli on.
Thus with choice. Perhaps the best answer here is for anyone who is pro-choice to remind him or herself that it is choice he or she advocates, not abortion. And that it’s not a position to relish or to celebrate. It’s a position that emerges from defeat, that concedes to reality – economic, geopolitical, personal – and to a certain essential, but necessary, brutality in our humanity. Sometimes we kill to survive. We can, and we do. We wage war. We execute. The questions are when, why, how; and the answers – this is the important part – will never be clean, will never be easy, will never be less than tragic.
Consciousness of this may indeed a cornerstone of what it means to be human; and that, in turn, may be part of why being human means, always, to some degree, being sad.
Bluestar- She may very well have made the same choice and as it stands that’s her legal right. She may have even named the fetus she decided to abort as part of the grieving process if the procedure had been successful and not botched; again that is a personal choice.
I don’t personally agree with late term abortions even though I tentatively respect the inherent right to have one. I think that with the exception of a medical reason a late term abortion should be completely unnecessary for women who have access to family planning information and safe abortion practices.
When I mention ‘if’ she was informed and had access or cared to access those things, I take that presumptive stance only because it seems to me that a woman who would name the fetus she chose to abort would probably be receptive to making better choices for herself if she had the information and/or the desire, ie: terminating at 6-12 weeks or using contraceptives. Of course, this was an 18 year old girl who didn’t even know she was pregnant at nearly six months along so how informed (or how irresponsibly in denial) was she really?
It saddens and angers me that none of this had to happen the way it did. She could have used some method of contraception. She could have had a safer abortion in the first trimester. She could have been more responsible on so many levels and she wasn’t, either through personal ignorance or lack of teaching by an adult or not enough access to services or some combination of the three, and that pisses me off.
I’m pro-choice but that doesn’t mean people who are irresponsible about sex and pregnancy deserve carte blanche. Those people undermine my right as woman to make an informed choice by feeding the ire of some self righteous, hardcore pro-lifers. And that group of people, in my opinion, do their part to make the next generation of young women oblivious to the impact of sex on their bodies and their lives by suppressing sex education and family planning services, two very viable routes to informed personal choices.
I think many of you are touching on something here…
Many doctors don’t want to perform abortions because of the potential danger that comes to them if they do. And, yes, you can get an abortion in NY at 24 weeks. (Which if I remember correctly is right after the test is done to check to make sure the heart is OK and/or if the baby has any genetic defects—the likelihood of it at least if one doesn’t opt for the invasive earlier test). And most of the time that’s done by the woman’s OBGYN and in a major hospital.
Abortions are never going to be illegal again. I really believe that. But anyone who can’t afford top notch, or even halfway decent OBGYN care, looks to clinics such as this one. Because there is no middle ground. Does that make sense? I hope that it does. I good doctor (generally speaking) —even a great doctor—isn’t going to open an abortion clinic.
Change must be done. Both sides need to meet in the middle and make something (albeit unappealing) safer and less horrible.
This story, that doctor, her actions (with using the baby’s name to sue that doctor AFTER the fact) is all dangerous information and fodder in the hands of the wrong people and that warrants our attention and anger.
I think I stopped making sense last Tuesday. Forgive me, people.
Pro-choice, or Pro-Life, I respect anyone’s stance, but YES, this could really give an edge to Pro-Lifers in their debate.
What’s the real crime here is twofold: that the young girl was uneducated/misinformed enough to be in the situation in the first place, and the gross misconduct of the staff at the clinic.
Using the baby’s name is just wrong. BUT, it certainly is compelling.
Here’s my take. If the baby can survive/is viable outside the womb, then you deliver it and put it in a NICU as a ward of the state. No ending of life necessary. If the baby can’t survive outside the womb, so be it. I’m sure I’m missing something here in how abortions actually work, but it just seems like nature should be allow to take it course in these cases near viability.
Here’s a slightly different kind of story that gets at some of the issues surrounding viability (it’s from over 10 years ago so the medicine has likely changed, a little or a lot; but still):
Sorry, hit the post button too soon. I offered the link but not the thought it provokes for me, which is that the question of “viability” at 23 weeks is not at all uncomplicated. Survival at that stage of gestation would require not only tremendous luck but a massive intervention, human and technological. I don’t in any way think that justifies what the staff at this institution did – note in Darcy’s article that in decades past the practice with previable infants was to place them in their mothers’ arms, which surely offers greater dignity to both mother and child than what happened in this case. But I can recall feeling, when I first ready this piece, that there was something not quite right about such a massive application of technology and human will to deflect what is, in the end, nature. It’s vaguely unsettling even in the case of two parents who desperately want their child (though it’s surely what I’d want too in their position). In the case of a young woman who has already expressed her unwillingness or inability to parent, it strikes me as heroic on one hand but possibly misguided on the other. (Could the money spent keeping that infant alive, for example – certainly in the hundreds of thousands by the time all’s said and done, maybe more—not be spent rather improving the lives of other children elsewhere? It’s at least a question worth asking, I think.)
Well, perhaps she should use the money she makes in the name of the daughter she aborted to help other mothers who find themselves in this exact situation. That’s really the only way I can agree with her doing what she’s doing. It’s despicable to turn around after making a choice to have an abortion and use the aborted baby as a way to make money. It screams either greed or (what Michele said earlier) that the Pro Lifers already got a hold of her and are helping her to do this.
Does that make sense?
Unrelated, yet sort of related when it comes to this idea of what nature wants (which is a subject that when it comes to procreation has sliding boundaries, but I’ll go there anyway), I have another thing I want to bring up.
What bugs me greatly is all the couples unable to get pregnant and turn to science in order to do so. And then when, lo and behold, all 400 embryos take and they are told they’re having a litter, and their doctors (the same doctors who helped them to get pregnant by using science) suggest they terminate one of the pregnancies because it’s unhealthy for both the mother AND the fetuses, they suddenly pull out the God word. That’s not what God wants! It’s against God’s will! Blah blah blah.
If GOD wanted them to get pregnant, they would have gotten pregnant without the use of science. RIght? I mean, by their logic, isn’t that true?
I find it hypocritical to look to science one minute and totally ignore it the next.
But I digress.
The point is, everyone has a view on what life is and where it begins and that view is different for almost every single person. To one person, 23 weeks shows a little human being, to another it’s still a sac of cells. I think the point to all of this is that it’s a horrible, ugly thing no matter how we look at it, no matter who you are and what beliefs you have, so, let’s figure out a way to make an ugly thing a little less ugly. I am not suggesting we ignore the ugliness as we Americans so love to do. I am suggesting we know the (possibly ugly) truth and deal with it in the best way possible.
Brad, I am going to actually read that link now. Heh
1) 23 weeks is a little person even for me. (Having fawned over Luca’s ultrasounds from 12 weeks onward, I could never think otherwise.) But it is not a little person that could in any way survive without massive intervention by science. Even with that, the risk of defects and anomalies is severe. (Again, Darcy’s piece is surely outdated, but not by that much.) Given that, it becomes a question of ethics, and anyone suggesting there’s a clear or easy answer is being disingenuous.
2) You make perfect sense. Using the deceased infant’s name in the complaint, for instance, smacks of a publicity-literate attorney or even a straight-up publicist. There is far more than grief being serviced here.
3) The dilemma you offer—couple can’t conceive; couple resorts to medicine, which overdelivers; couple cites supreme being to justify morally hazardous next step—is exactly what I mean by disingenuous. God, in that instance, is a convenience, a prop to serve the argument. God’s will be done when we like it; when we don’t, pass me the test tube. (But don’t you dare pass it to someone who has Parkinson’s.)
God, in that instance, is a convenience, a prop to serve the argument. God’s will be done when we like it; when we don’t, pass me the test tube. (But don’t you dare pass it to someone who has Parkinson’s.)
Baffling. Truly baffling.
Also, I want to thank everyone on here for being so able to have discussions about such matters without resorting to attacks. This is why I keep coming back to this Web site. I truly respect and admire each and every one of you, no matter what views or opinions you have. I mean that.
One last comment from me for you M about the physician-assisted births and refusals to “selectively reduce.” Those cases aren’t about God and should never get to that point. It is about medical ethics.
As someone who has a beautiful child thanks to science, I worked with very ethical doctors who made it very clear up front they wouldn’t implant more than 3 embryos, 2 was their recommendation for me, and I was no spring chicken. I didn’t want to be faced with triplets so I went for two. I think it is extremely unethical for those doctors to implant 6 embryos (that’s what I’ve heard that did in that CA case) – especially in a woman of her young age and already with 6 children. I just don’t know how those doctors can live with themselves – except that they are counting their money all the way to the bank and that is sick. Isn’t there a a code of ethics for reproductive doctors? Those doctors should be investigated and their license taken away or suspended.
In America we make issues about everything other than the issue. It is often about ethics. So many things boil down to ethics and ethics are sorely lacking in our culture today.
I’m thankful to have never had to make an abortion decision. I won’t presume to be smart enough to make it for someone else either.
I’m pro-choice – if someone makes the gut-wrenching decision to have an abortion, so be it.
Jesus Christ. I’m glad you put this back up, too. I really like reading your blog, and I think you should write what you want to write and not worry about what all of us think about you.
This story made my stomach lurch; something I don’t know it would have had I not given birth two months ago for the first time. And when I look at my kid, I wonder how anyone could have an abortion. And this is coming from a very, very liberal person who thinks she’s pro-choice.
People should be able to do what they think is best, but within reason. I didn’t know that you could get an abortion at 23 weeks. The limit here in Germany is 12. The girl probably didn’t realize how much of a baby a fetus is at 23 weeks. I find myself saying, “Who am I to judge?” a lot, but now I think: I know who I am to judge. I’m a mother, goddamn it.
Jessica said: “What if this 18 year old had access to INFORMATION about abortion in general?”
I live in Florida. Every public library I have ever visited in Florida has a bank of computers and FREE internet access. Anyone can use them. It costs nothing but your time. This girl DID have access to a WORLD of information about abortion, family planning, alternative choices, and anything else one can google. But she chose not to.
I’m not saying it’s entirely her fault—I think the medical “professionals” at the clinic grossly mishandled the situation.
The whole thing makes me angry and sad and those feelings are absolutely futile.
WHAT ARE WE SUPPOSED TO DO TO GET PEOPLE THE INFORMATION THEY NEED TO MAKE AN INFORMED CHOICE? ARE WE SUPPOSED TO SHOVE IT DOWN THEIR THROATS AGAINST THEIR WILL? Already SO much of our government money is spent on programs designed to educate people who DO NOT GIVE A SHIT.
Makes me want to go from “live and let live” to “live and let die”.
Some people are too stupid to be helped and all the money in the world is not going to change it.
To reiterate what Lee Ann touched upon above, maybe this is just nature’s way of stopping the illiterate and stupid from procreating. Every time I start to feel a little sad for the unborn babies out there or the kids who die way, way too young, I try and picture them as future convicts or rapists or just people who live on welfare and totally abuse the system. Because chances are, that’s what would have happened.
It doesn’t make it any less gross but it’s a little easier.
I don’t think it’s the right attitude to call this girl “stupid” for not having had the proper information before her abortion (this is an assumption, of course). We are assuming here that she maybe made this decision lightly and without much thought. Either way, it seems as if she were uninformed on the fact that it’s not always a seamless and easy-to-handle procedure.
Mihow, thank you for saying what I wanted to say about the “God’s will” argument. ARGH! How can people not see how ridiculously hypocritical that is?
Lee Anne –
I don’t mean to sound like I’m just another spend-it-all on useless social services liberal. You are absolutely right that she could have taken it upon herself to deal with and research her situation, that’s why I pointed out that she didn’t make any responsible personal choices. Lots of people don’t these days. It’s definitely a sign of our times, don’t you think?
If things like health or sex ed weren’t available to her then tough luck, she still failed at a personal responsibility. I’m not sure how much of our sense of personal responsibility is nature and how much is nurture, but I do know that it’s probably both. My only contention is that maybe when any instincts we’re born with are not reinforced by some bare minimum of teaching, bad shit stands a greater chance of happening. Maybe she can’t read or maybe she doesn’t know how to Google – it wouldn’t surprise me, this whole story took place in ghetto Miami and I can vouch for the degraded schools and the abysmal literacy rate there.
I don’t think spending or lack thereof is the biggest problem, however. I think agendas that mold curriculum are a problem, and by that I’m referring to abstinence only education. That’s why this whole story freaks out the people who are pro-choice. One stupid, irresponsible girl can get the rabid pro-lifers into a lather and before you know it abortion along with teen sex become demonized even more than it has been in public schools.
Hold on a minute. Almost everyone commenting agrees that the medical “professionals” in this case were grossly negligent and that the procedure the girl paid for went horribly wrong. Why shouldn’t she sue? The problem is that it’s in the baby’s name?
But if we think it’s gross and inappropriate to put the live baby into a bag like trash instead of in a NICU for the longshot chance at survival, because a breathing crying baby is too much like a person to do otherwise, why shouldn’t the mother, who dear God may have had an epiphany when she heard the “fetus” crying, why shouldn’t the mother get to treat it like it’s a baby? If the staff is going to fuck up that bad and “deliver” it instead of terminating it?
Why do people assume her motivation is necessarily about dollars instead of about horror? Why are we as readers entitled to our horror about this appalling incident, but the mother isn’t? I didn’t read the article (because you were so sweet, Mihow, to summarize and try to spare us) but I’ll go back and see if I’m missing something.
I read the article, and that didn’t clarify things for me. So I’m still thinking about that don’t-eat-meat-if-you-couldn’t-watch-the-animal-killed argument that’s been applied as relevant here. Like if you were willing to have an abortion, you should be willing to watch a child you’ve delivered die in front of you? Because that’s the true face of abortion? She got what she wanted, i.e., no baby, so she should just chill out?
That’s a little harsh, folks. People who have abortions are still human. And to deliver a baby that ends up in the trash can, BREATHING, is an awfully extreme experience for a human, whether you arrived as an abortion-seeker or not.
It’s like if a meat-eater went to a steakhouse for dinner and ended up spattered with cow’s blood and force-fed parasite-riddled beef. It might be, uh, “reality”, but it’s not remotely what the meat-eater intended. And someone should be liable.
It’s like if a meat-eater went to a steakhouse for dinner and ended up spattered with cow’s blood and force-fed parasite-riddled beef. It might be, uh, “reality”, but it’s not remotely what the meat-eater intended. And someone should be liable.
To someone on the far other side, such as a member of Peta who thinks eating meat is murder, that’s precisely what it’s like when a person consumes meat. And if that did happen, the scenario you describe, it would most certainly be used to further their message and agenda.
Based on your first comment, Crystal, and what you wrote about how this played out for this woman, she most definitely could become a perfect poster child for the pro-life movement and a damn near perfect one, if you ask me.
Yes, someone should be held accountable. The fact that it happened in the first place means we’re in horrible, terrible shape.
It was a horrible experience; it was, perhaps, malpractice or malfeasance or something else actionable. And no, I don’t think anyone should be forced to endure watching the fetus/baby die.
On the other hand, that is what she signed up for – not the watching, but the killing. It was 23 weeks either way, and she did ask that it be destroyed. She just asked that she not see it happening. I’m not sure how the ethics, in terms of her decision, are any different. I can certainly understand her reaction – that is, hearing the baby crying and changing her mind, if that’s how it went down. But the fact remains that it was the exact same baby she’d ordered killed in that exact same location on that exact same day. The circumstances of her life – the ones that led to her initial decision – had not, presumably, changed within that 5-minute span of time.
Leaving aside the issue of the botched medical procedure – on which grounds she, just like someone who had the wrong leg amputated or an operation on the left instead of the right lung, is entitled to take action – but leaving that aside, we’re still left with the ethics and morality of willful termination of a life. The debate over capital punishment doesn’t come down to it’s OK if we do lethal injection, it’s not OK if we hang them. The state either sanctions termination in some instances or it doesn’t – that’s what’s at stake.
And no, no one should be forced to endure blood spatterings and whatnot when sitting down to a steak dinner. But at the same time if watching slaughter and/or butchery of the animals you eat would make you not want to eat them, then you probably ought not be eating them in the first place. Because the slaughter and butchery are taking place whether you watch it or not. And they’re taking place because you gave the order. That makes you responsible. Your (“your” in the general, not personal, sense) refusal to acknowledge or confront that responsibility may be of comfort to you, but it doesn’t do much for the cow.
Lastly, while her suit makes sense at least insofar as it appears the abortion was malpracticed (if that can be a word), I think it’s galling that she names the baby as a complainant. The whole thing took place, after all, because she signed up for the procedure. One way or another, she put the baby under threat of death – make that certainty of death, as far as she knew. The hospital staff only set out to do harm to her baby because she’d asked them to. She hadn’t asked them to do it in that way, of course; but she had asked them to terminate her child/fetus. For her to bring a claim on her own behalf is one thing; for her to bring a claim on behalf of the child she herself put in harm’s way, so to speak, is, to me, something else again.
Brad, you said that much better than I. I should take my post down and just put that one up. ;]
That Mom Logic article was ridiculous. Utterly traffic-chumming, as you so well put it, and horribly written at that.
I think that it isn’t that hard to believe that an 18 year old girl, whose periods could very possibly be irregular, and who maybe isn’t totally in-tune with her body, could be unaware of a pregnancy. It happens more often than you’d think, and especially to someone in their teens.