Back in April, Arizona passed the most extreme anti-abortion legislation in the country. They agreed to ban all abortion after 20-weeks, even though that directly contradicts the Supreme Court’s protection of abortion before viability. The legislation was taken to court, and today a judge decided to uphold the measure to strip choices away from pregnant women.
Just to be clear, a very small percentage of abortions are performed after 20 weeks. Almost all abortions in the US happen before 12 weeks after your missed period. Most abortions after 20 weeks happen because of fetal abnormalities or complications that could damage the health of the mother, or worse.
The health of the mother. I’d like to talk about that just for a minute. The language surrounding the Arizona law is decidedly contradictory. This statement, “without any exceptions for a pregnant woman’s life or health unless she is experiencing a dire and possibly life-threatening emergency,” seems especially troublesome. What is qualified under “life-threatening”? Who determines what constitutes “dire”? To me, these are serious issues that must be addressed if this restrictive law is actually going to take effect.
At the end of last year, I had what would be clinically referred to as an abortion. I took the drugs one would be prescribed to terminate a pregnancy. It wasn’t because I had decided that I didn’t want to carry a child. I desperately wanted a child. I was already planning names and decorating a nursery. I had to terminate my pregnancy because it was ectopic. If it continued to grow, it could have burst my Fallopian tube. I could have died, and not been here to care for my pre-school-aged daughter.
The medication prescribed didn’t work. I ended up losing my Fallopian tube in a surgery that removed both the fetus and my tube. It was a heart-wrenching loss of life that I dearly wanted to bring into this world. It was an awful, difficult decision to say goodbye to that pregnancy. But it was one that I had to make.
Now, my procedure did not happen after 20 weeks. It happened at 10. But I have been in the situation where I had to make such a difficult and personal decision. It was an individual choice, and one that I had every right to make myself, without anyone’s input but my husband. I did not need the government getting involved and telling me what my options were.
Women are thoughtful and intelligent. They are capable of deciding what it best for their families and for their bodies. This legislation attempts to strip those rights, those choices, from the women of Arizona. It legislates for women who are carrying babies that may have life-ending conditions or fetal abnormalities. It says that they must give birth to newborns who will life painful and short lives, if they make it through childbirth at all.
More than anything, it takes away a choice that is guaranteed by the United States. It takes away a woman’s right to choose. Legislation cannot understand all of the issues surrounding a pregnancy, so this law attempts to ignore them. It pretends that all pregnancies are equal and should have the same outcome. The world doesn’t work that way. My pregnancy was a personal decision, as was ending it to save my life. Those are choices that I should always be able to make, and so should every woman in this country.