Thursday, November 09, 2006

Playing politics with abortion

I normally stay away from heavy debates about abortion because I simply don't have all the data in front of me. But every once in a while you see something or hear something that positively makes your blood boil. In her article today on the Fox News site, Lis Wiehl decided it was high time to prove once again that Fox News is not purely a bastion of far-right rhetoric. I could boil down what she had to say, but her words are far more damning than anything I could write.

Just months after replacing Sandra Day O'Connor on the U.S. Supreme Court, it looks like Justice Samuel L. Alito is about to begin making a career-long ambition come true.
It's no wonder then that on November 8, just six years after the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision to strike down a Nebraska law which criminalized late-term abortion, the Court has agreed to revisit the issue — this time with a federal law called the “Partial Birth Abortion Act of 2003.” The Nebraska law was struck down because it failed to provide exceptions for a woman's health; the federal law contains the same omission. So what's the difference? This time, Justice Alito will cast the deciding vote.

This is apparently coming from the direction of the "vast right-wing conspiracy" theory. Justice Alito has waited his whole life to do exactly one thing and after a masterful orchestration of jobs, interviews and appointments he can now be the only reason a tragic procedure will become illegal. To put it bluntly, puh-lease. Justice Alito may very well vote to uphold the ban but the assertion he does so purely for personal or political gain is not only grossly inaccurate it is also extraordinarily presumptuous. Do not presume to read a person's mind or see into his soul Ms. Wiehl, that's God's turf.
Ms. Wiehl then continues on to push forth the meme that the procedure, which of course she refuses to term "partial birth abortion" other than in quotes of others' words, is sometimes necessary. She tells of the story of two women who were told by their doctors they "needed" to have this procedure. Faced with a child with multiple deformities including Trisomy 13, "Kim" tells us,
I knew that I would not be able to carry the fetus to term; to have every kick and movement remind me that we would not have a child at the end of the pregnancy and then to see the baby die a painful death, if he even made it to term.
While I indeed feel tremendous pain for this woman, my heart is no less torn for the baby she murdered only inches from birth because of a decision she made for her own mental comfort. Perhaps that is a harsh statement; perhaps I will some day regret making it. Perhaps too, some day I may be faced with knowing someone who is in this very situation. But my advice to them will always be the same - you can not kill to save yourself suffering. I'm sorry, but for those of you who think it would have been better for everyone involved to abort the baby, tell that to Patrick Coffin and his wife. They lived the nightmare others would avoid and you can guarantee they would not trade it away for one minute. But that's what happens when you choose life over temporal freedom.
In continuing her trot down Rose-Colored Glasses Lane, Ms. Wiehl tells us that we pro-life folks really don't know what we're talking about:
Proponents of the ban emphasize that Congress wrote it in consultation with medical professionals who testified that a health exception was unnecessary, since alternative (though frankly, no less gruesome) methods of second-trimester abortions would remain legal. In contrast, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has reported that the method in question is increasingly viewed as the safest procedure available for second-trimester pregnancy. This is, in part, because less of the fetus is in the womb where a woman's reproductive tissues can be cut by sharp instruments, heightening the risk of hemorrhaging and future infertility
Ah yes, the ACOG. Clearly a group that's always focused on doing the best for all involved. Good, good, good - glad to see we're getting some professional levity involved here. Indeed, this is a safer procedure when you grant the conditions they cite. For everyone but the baby. So tell me again, how is it that a procedure is considered "safe" when an otherwise viable (even if for only a few seconds in the worst case) life is ended as a normal part of said procedure? Oops, I forgot - overstepped my bounds. I used that word "life" again. This is all about politics.
The bottom line is there is nothing pretty about late-term abortion, but that doesn't give Justice Alito, or any other government entity, the right to play politics with women's health. No expectant mother, in the absence of the most nightmarish diagnosis, ever wants an “intact” abortion. What they want — and what they deserve under the Constitution — is unfettered access to the most appropriate medical care.
And if only Ms. Wiehl were willing to take off her "any time, any where for any reason" lenses she would see that is precisely what is being offered by banning this procedure. Even if the Justice were bent on seeing this ban upheld at any cost, it would in fact provide that "unfettered access to the most appropriate medical care" that Ms. Wiehl claims to demand. What Ms. Wiehl probably intends to demand is "the medical care least disconcerting to the mother". But we can run with what she wrote. It is, or at least should be, the demand of every mother to have the most appropriate medical care for herself and her child. Nothing less is worthy of a mother, and nothing less is worthy of our country and our Supreme Court.