By now, you've probably heard about Todd Akin's idiotic comments regarding rape and pregnancy. I thought about writing a response, but that response would be my shortest blog post ever, just two words: Fucking Idiot. You can turn to just about every other blog/news outlet/human being to read an in-depth response to how broken this man's "logic" is, and how much of a crock the doctor is that contributed to his theory that women's bodies (and eggs) can effectively differentiate between wanted sperm and rape sperm.
Though I find myself frequently embarrassed by members such as Akin, I will admit that I'm a card-carrying Republican. I use the phrase that most people hate: "I'm fiscally conservative, socially liberal." I've thought about changing my voter status to Independent, but then I wouldn't be able to participate in the Primary elections - and that's where I get to decide on the least of the Republican Evils. Anyway, I digress...
Reading up on these two morons and their questionable science inevitably led me to reflect on my own views on abortion - because really that's what this argument is about.
Before I got pregnant, I didn't have a very strong opinion when it came to abortion. Who was I to say when life begins? I majored in Journalism - meaning I elected to take Astronomy over Biology for the easy A in college. Do you really think I'm qualified to weigh in on that debate? I'm not particularly religious, so guidance from above wasn't really a factor. Yet considering I can be found in a hyperventilating, ugly cry after hitting a chipmunk with my car and rendering little Alvin roadkill, it probably wouldn't be a stretch to saying that I couldn't possibly carry the weight of making the life or death decision for a tiny soon-to-be human. On the other hand, I also don't appreciate other people telling me what to do with my body or dictating how to live my life. All of these factors landed me in the "probably not for me, but it's your body, your choice" camp.
Part of me assumed that this opinion would change when I got pregnant. A beautiful life growing inside of me, made apparent in the lub-dub of a heartbeat on the Doppler and a thumbs-up clearly visible in the black and white squiggles of a sonogram. A miracle, a little human; one that we longed for so much, and that just happened to come to exist after a romantic Valentine's day
dinner bottle of wine. He was alive - I felt him. As Charlie grew in me, so did my love for him, even though I didn't know a single thing about him - not even that he was a 'he'.
When I was 33 weeks along, I started having some pain in my upper-right quadrant, just below my rib cage. Thinking it was my gallbladder (which is commonly affected in pregnancy), I mentioned it to my OB assuming it was no big deal. They did blood work, which revealed that my platelet count was down to 109. The combination of side pain and low platelets landed me in L&D for observation, suspect of HELLP syndrome - which is serious and most often fatal...
Facing the "unknown" at the end of my pregnancy was taxing. After returning home from my stay in L&D, my husband and I sat down and had "the talk." The talk that no one really wants to have during pregnancy, but should probably have in case of emergency - In a life or death situation during labor, who do you choose?
I asked him to choose me.
For a long time I thought that I'd never admit that to a single soul, other than my husband. Until today, I was certain we'd take it to the grave. Secretly, I was embarrassed and ashamed and deemed myself undeserving of this little life bestowed upon me. But, for some reason, Todd Akin's nonsense brought me back to that moment, reflective of my right to make the decision I did.
We see in the headlines: Mom With Cancer Chooses Baby's Life Over Her Own ; Stacie Crimm held daughter in her arms, then died 3 days later ; Pregnant girl, 17, skips cancer care to save her baby — and dies. A mother's love is supposed to be a selfless love. So what does that make me?
Unworthy of being a mother?
Our decision, at the time, came down to a few factors. First, my husband would be forced to raise a child alone - something that he admittedly feared. Second, the thought of missing out on my child's life made my heart ache. Third, I carried the burden of a mostly fatherless life. Knowing what I know, the thought of my child carrying the burden of a life without a mother was, to me, unbearable. And fourth, our child didn't yet know life outside of my womb - whereas I was terrified at the thought of losing my own.
Maybe these reasons do make me selfish. I was a mother - how could I not choose my baby? But they were my honest and raw feelings in the moment that death was a realistic outcome for me. I was not ready to go.
As it turned out, I didn't have HELLP. But I did have Gestational Thrombocytopenia, which isn't life threatening in itself if your platelet count stays stable. I began receiving blood tests each week, knowing that if my platelets dropped too low that I would immediately be induced. They went from 109 to 134 to 129... A count too low could have meant general anesthesia for delivery, or a blood transfusion, but chances were good that we'd all be okay.
Obviously, we were lucky that my husband didn't have the make a choice. And now that Charlie is here, I would willingly throw myself in front of a bus or a bullet or the wrath of a tornado to ensure his safety over my own. I value him and his life above anything else in this world. I think I've proven, in many ways, that I am a deserving, loving and capable mother.
But today I find myself pondering, what if we didn't have the right to make the decision we made? What if in that moment, I knew that I would die and my baby would live? No matter how premature he was born or his quality of life, no matter what the medical situation - what if I didn't get a say in whether I lived or died? If rights were bestowed only in favor of my baby, I would automatically lose my own right to live.
I've decided that I'll gladly cross party lines to agree with President Obama in his response to Akin. He said, "[His comments] underscore why we shouldn't have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women."
My opinion of abortion and women's reproductive rights have officially become more solid, more defined. The decision to end a life is not an easy one, and not one that any woman could possibly take lightly. And it sure as hell is something that any reasonable woman would carry with her forever. The only people with a right in making these decisions, are the women who are in them. Certainly not politicians. Certainly not a man that is not directly responsible for inseminating the egg. And certainly not idiots like Akin.
"No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg."
- Frederica Mathewes-Green