Thursday, February 16, 2012

Ultrasound Before Abortion Update: HB462 Revisited

Virginia House Bill #462, which cleared the House today, will require abortion procedures to include an ultrasound image of the fetus. (When the Daily Kos describes this procedure as invasive and humiliating, I have to ask whether the Daily Kos has any idea what the rest of an abortion procedure involves.)

In the interest of fairness, I'll share a link to the Daily Kos, with the warning that it contains language and images that are not family-friendly and would never be tolerated at this site. Even the link violates our standards, so, sorry, we're not going to display it where it can be pasted into your browser if clicking on "Daily Kos" doesn't work.

Now, about HB462. Why is this bill important, and why did a woman Delegate, not the rich White male stereotype Kos invokes, introduce it? Because the choice to have an abortion may be based on the condition of the fetus.

Abortion is not necessarily a free choice made by a woman. Sometimes it's pressed upon a girl by parents, teachers, or social workers, or on a woman by her husband or live-in "boyfriend" (or, uh, is "professional agent" more printable than the technical term that sounds like a blemish, and is therefore appropriate?). Sometimes knowing exactly how viable a fetus is, or even having some idea how much it resembles its father, will relieve the pressure and help those closest to the prospective victim of this procedure to respect what is actually her choice--to let the fetus develop into a baby. And sometimes, although legal abortion is safer than what used to be known as back-street abortion, the decision not to keep pushing for abortion may save the girl's or woman's life.

Abortion is appalling, and if you think that blunt, smooth ultrasound wand looks "invasive," ask your doctor to show you the other instruments, which will not be described here, in case the nephews are reading it. What the nephews need to know is that, although a fetus is a blob of glup, similar to the contents of an egg on which a hen has been sitting for a week, only bigger, a viable fetus is securely attached to the body in which it is growing. Taking it out is going to hurt the host body. People who don't want babies need to make sure they don't start any. Having an abortion is not a safe, simple procedure like having a haircut, or even like having a tonsillectomy.

Why do women like Delegate (Kathy) Byron even need to argue about this? Because most women my age have heard abortion championed as a "right" for people like Gloria Steinem, who chose abortion in order to take advantage of a travel deal and subsequently displayed what looked like a guilt complex to me. However, we need to be aware of at least three other models that have come into existence since women have had a legal right to "choose" abortion:

1. Anne Lamott's books, Operating Instructions, Traveling Mercies, and Grace Eventually, describe how Lamott was empowered to make her own real choice by a church that didn't just lay a guilt trip on women for "choosing" abortion, but actually became the surrogate family who provided the time and money that allowed her son to live. Lamott didn't want to deny her son a chance to live; she wanted to make sure he'd have some hope of a decent life. Her real choice was not abortion.

2. When I reviewed these books for Yahoo under the title "Christians: How to Prevent Abortion," e-friend Lyn Lomasi, a professional "parenting" writer who was actually counselling young women, said the most common scenario in statistics and in her experience was that young women didn't really want abortion, but were bullied into it by baby-phobic men who threatened to leave if they allowed fetuses to be born. (Lyn Lomasi was also a homeschooling mother, and stepmother, then writing under a screen name that reflected her job description as "Mommie to Lots.")

3. Much longer ago, Marilou Awiakta, author of Selu, documented the extent to which social workers disproportionately urged poor and/or minority women to "choose" abortion, often to be followed by sterilization. The word "genocide" appeared in essays she and other ethnic-minority women contributed to long-gone collections on this topic. At the time when I read these essays I was personally acquainted with a "professional foster mother" who specialized in sheltering teenaged girls; I talked to these girls, and while one of the White ones had been allowed to keep her baby (with whom I'd bonded), one of the Cherokee ones had had to threaten to kill the social worker who kept urging her to have an abortion, and even then she'd had to agree to put the baby up for adoption. So I know that this tendency exists.

If the Daily Kos wants to worry about what's really invasive--and life-threatening!--to young women who have already been physically abused, I refer them to this abomination:

And to my previous comments on HB673, here:

This atrocity is still in the Committee for Justice. If you are a Virginian whose Delegate is on this committee, and you've not already urged him or her to kill HB673, please do so now.