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Feb 21, 201208:33 AMEditor's Blog

My Uterus is Personal

Feb 21, 2012 - 08:33 AM

With a "Personhood" bill almost certain to pass in Oklahoma, I have to say something in defense of my uterus. It doesn't belong to the Oklahoma State Legislature. And my daughters' reproductive body parts don't either.

What do we women have to put up with in order for one male legislator to make a political point? Are we really ready for this legislation to intrude in so many areas of our lives? And in such personal ways?

Years ago, I was pregnant with twins. My husband and I had planned this pregnancy. We were in our late 20s and ready to have a child. In my fourth month, I was on a regular visit to my gynecologist, and she did a routine ultrasound. I could tell by the look on her face that something wasn't right. She left the room as I lay on the table worrying, my heart pounding. Her partner, the doctor who dealt with high risk pregnancies, came in and looked at the ultrasound. I knew that couldn't be good. I was pregnant with twins and there was no heartbeat. I would most certainly have a miscarriage if I continued with the pregnancy and my doctor, being a compassionate person, recommended a D&C (dilation and curettage). If you've ever had a miscarriage (which I have had in a subsequent pregnancy), it isn't pretty. It's not something anyone would choose to go through. My doctor, I'm sure, knew that it would be difficult for me, but she left the decision up to me. I could have the D&C or wait for the inevitable. I went home and thought about it. I discussed it with my husband.  I chose the D&C.

Because my hospital of choice was Catholic and, therefore, didn't allow this "abortion" procedure, I had to go to an unfamiliar hospital, adding to an already miserable and heartbreaking experience. I guess, technically, I was having an abortion, even though the pregnancy was not viable. Under the "Personhood" bill, I would probably have had to wait until I miscarried rather than have a D&C.  I don't know. A miscarriage is a difficult and emotionally draining experience -- one that the man who wrote this bill will never have. And what about other types of pregnancies that may be life-threatening to a woman? Would women and their doctors be forced to turn away from medically sound practices and risk the life of a woman?

I also think of the heartbreaking desire of couples who desperately want to have a child, but cannot. Invetro Fertilization gives them a chance. The "Personhood" bill would take this opportunity away from Oklahoma couples.

When I was in graduate school, I had a friend who had been repeatedly raped by her own father. Under this bill, would she have been put in jail if a pregnancy had resulted and she wanted to take the "morning after" pill?

What would you do if your daughter were raped? I know what I would do if either of my daughters were raped. Knowing what is involved in going through a pregnancy and delivery, both emotionally and physically, I would not want them to remain pregnant with a rapist's child.

I know there are many people who don't agree with me. That's ok. But what's not ok with me is that a handful of mostly male legislators is making the decision for all the women in Oklahoma.

Old to new | New to old
Feb 21, 2012 12:09 pm
 Posted by  DeanaOHara

I agree wholeheartedly. For all the reasons you stated. Our state legislature is ill-equipped to be making medical decisions. So many people backing it are blind to what they are backing. It hurts my heart and angers me as a woman.

Feb 21, 2012 03:48 pm
 Posted by  Lisa C.

Betty,

Thank you for articulating this so powerfully!

Lisa

Feb 21, 2012 05:18 pm
 Posted by  Katie B

The scariest parts are no D&Cs for miscarriages and no exclusion for rape, incest, or danger to mother's life. The threat to IVF procedures is mind-boggling. If this bill passes, how could the State allow a "person" to be implanted in someone's uterus, knowing that 65-94% of all implanted embryos die (per the CDC)?!?! Not to mention how horrific back-alley abortions are. This bill is just dangerous.

Feb 21, 2012 07:41 pm
 Posted by  amprescott

Basing an argument on the rarest reasons for abortion is disingenuous. The abortion lobby’s own stats (http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3711005.pdf) say the majority of abortions occur because a woman finds a baby inconvenient. Only 13% are due to potential fetal health problems. As for pregnancies resulting from rape/incest, they make up a whopping 1% of all abortions.

You’d never want your daughter to “remain pregnant with a rapist’s child.” But a baby so conceived would be your daughter’s child, too. How can you deem a baby deserving of death based on how he/she was conceived? Is the baby now a de facto accomplice to rape? We can't execute convicted rapists, but killing a baby — the other victim — is not only permissible but expedient?

Rape is a terrible, terrible crime. But an abortion isn’t some necessary part of the healing process. The trauma isn't done away just because the victim purges the "evidence." In fact, many rape victims who choose abortion suffer the rest of their lives knowing their unborn child was victimized twice over.

My nephew was conceived as the result of rape. My 16-yr-old sister could have disposed of him in order to "move on.” Instead, we got to witness the healing power of life: watching an innocent child come into the world and make a very dark time full of laughter, healing and hope. It didn’t “undo” the rape but it gave her a way to see meaning and redemption in circumstances thrust upon her by someone else’s “choice.”

Instead, you argue that this amazing young man, now in college, and his mother would’ve been better off had he been killed in utero.

At least be intellectually honest and admit you support abortion because you don’t think an unborn child is a human being entitled to protection. Don’t use rape as a straw man to pretend a multimillion-dollar industry is devoted to the selfless service of women who’ve been victimized.

Rape is an unspeakable evil. Abortion doesn’t solve the evil, abortion compounds it.

Feb 22, 2012 07:58 am
 Posted by  onemom

In the words of Ruth Bader Ginsberg: The state controlling a woman would mean denying her full autonomy and full equality.

Feb 22, 2012 11:07 am
 Posted by  honeybeemama

very well written, betty. thank you for sharing and for being so open about your own personal and private and difficult story. what is important here is to understand that personhood and abortion and women's rights are all VERY complex and VERY important issues. issues that involve public health at a very broad and deep level. religious views are absolutely to be respected, but i think in our state they can end up driving legislation in ways that are not loving and respectful to people, which is NOT the primary view of ANY religion. when i think of how jesus would respond to any woman or family in the positions you described above, i believe he would have compassion toward them and would want them to make a educated decision. this bill will potentially remove the decision altogether.

to further complicate the issue, over 70% of women who undergo abortions for whatever reason, claim religious affiliation, which would probably attach them with groups who would say unborn babies are people who should not be murdered. if our state doesn't seriously raise the ante on sex education for young men and women, and also passes this bill, there will be a lot of women in back alleys making decisions that could seriously harm them, or in their closets with hangers taking their situation into their own hands.

bottom line is this bill doesn't come close to solving many of the greater issues surrounding abortion.

Feb 22, 2012 11:14 am
 Posted by  honeybeemama

Ampre Scott - I do want to validate your input to the discussion. I know someone who conceived a child as a result of rape, and chose to keep her baby. They too have experienced great joy and the child has not experienced negativity because of the way she was brought into this world. I do believe there is merit in the notion that what one person intended for evil, God intended for good. I only mean to emphasize that the personhood bill neglects to address a lot of very important issues that have to do with education and health at a huge level.

Feb 23, 2012 04:24 pm
 Posted by  Barbara

This is a wonderful article showing the complexities of the abortion issue, and the emotional toll of coping with such a difficult decision. I strongly disagree with amprescott that women should be required to carry to term a pregnancy resulting from rape. Individual women must be free to make their own decisions of whether to carry to term a pregnancy caused by a rapist. It is not the proper role of the state to force women to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term. That decision should be made by the woman, her family, and her spiritual counselor. Most people don't understand that if the state can force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term, they can also force women to have abortions to terminate wanted pregnancies. We've all seen what has happened in China with the one-child policy. Women are literally dragged from their homes, strapped down, and aborted against their will. Giving the state power over a woman's uterus and her decisionmaking in this most private and personal area is a double-edged sword that cuts both ways. These are the most difficult decisions a woman will ever have to make, and none of them do it lightly. Every woman has to answer to her own conscience and her own God. It is not up to us to presume to tell her what to do. We don't know the burden she is carrying or what's in her heart. Only God does.

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About This Blog

Our editor-in-chief, Betty started working for TulsaKids when her youngest child was 3 years old. That daughter will be starting graduate school in the fall. Her son is now 27 and her middle daughter is 24. TulsaKids and her children literally grew up together (and she lived to tell about it)! Betty is an avid runner, cook (loves to eat) and coffee snob. She is an award-winning writer and most recently was honored with a Great Plains Journalism Award as Best Blogger of 2013. Last year, she wrote and illustrated her first children’s book, “May Finds Her Way” (2013 The RoadRunner Press). Watch for her every Tuesday on KTUL Channel 8’s Good Morning Oklahoma and Thursdays on KTUL’s Good Day Tulsa.

She enjoys getting reader feedback on articles, blogs or with suggestions for the magazine. Email her at editor@tulsakids.com

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