One reason I started to write this blog was to write about things that were on my mind. Another reason was to share information. Usually it stays on the topic of veganism but, for me, veganism is part of a larger picture. Social Justice, Animal Welfare, Feminism, Environmentalism, Humanism, and most of all, so much fucking love in my heart are all the foundation of it.
Everything is interconnected. Some would even say there is a metapattern to it all. (Full disclosure: the first class I ever took at Evergreen was called metapatterns cause that’s the kind of school I went to).
That makes it hard to talk about just one thing. I have always had what some would refer to as a bleeding heart. I’ve been writing letters to politicians, school officials, and companies since I was a little kid. In addition to this, I can get really fired up really quickly. That latter quality can make it really difficult for me to get into arguments. I get so hot and it can last for days. Sometimes I can direct that passion into action and that’s why I wanted to write a better post about why I am pro-choice and why I think you should be too.
Last week I wrote an outraged post about how I was painting my nails to support Wendy Davis’s amazing filibusterer and to support Planned Parenthood. I wrote about some other vegan haps about the town as well, partly because I wanted to blog about all three things and I think partly because I wanted to stay “on topic”. But you know what? This is my blog. I get enormous pleasure in the fact that I can talk about whatever I want. I make zero dollars from it. If you don’t like what I’m writing about you can either stick to the Eating Out sections or check out Vegans Rock Austin, The Lonestar Plate, Austin Vegetarian Living, Red Hot Vegans or Happy Cow, I bet Austin is one of the most blogged about towns in the USA and surely you will find someone you mesh with. But don’t come to my blog and insinuate that I am racist because I think white male evangelical politicians hold way too much power in this state and are actively working to disenfranchise minorities and women. I don’t think that every evangelical or white or Republican thinks the same way but I can tell you after watching the Texas Senate and Texas House debates for the last few weeks that every single one of them that are voting for restrictions on abortions that would close women’s health clinics (that do more than just give out abortions) all over the state are people that are actively against women’s health and safety. In addition to closing clinics the bill would also add a restriction that women can not have legal abortions after their 20th week.
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, The Texas Medical Association, the Texas Hospital Association all oppose this bill for several reasons. They opposed it because there is no medical need for more restrictions on abortion. I learned a lot from reading the bill and watching the debates about this. I learned that, as a medical procedure, doctors consider abortion on par with a colonoscopy. I learned that it is one of the safest medical procedures in the state. I learned that a woman is significantly more likely to die or have complications by carrying a pregnancy to term than she is by having an abortion. I learned that since we have systematically gutted healthcare in this state that pregnancy is actually pretty scary to go through in Texas, especially if you are poor or uninsured or uneducated. “In Texas, the racial disparity is also evident. Black women are three times more likely to die from pregnancy related causes of death than white women.” Studies that follow the implications of restricting abortion have repeatedly shown that the number of abortions don’t go down when clinics close. Instead, desperate women search for other alternatives. Already because of the expense of abortion and the mandatory 24 hour waiting period coupled with the fear of being found out by her neighbors or family many women cross the border into Mexico where they can take prescription medications that might cause an abortion, or maybe make them bleed to death.
Aside from closing clinics under the guise of protecting women’s health another aspect of the Texas bill is that women will no longer have the option of getting an abortion after the 20th week. The supposed reason behind this new law is that at that point the fetus can feel pain. Like many many scientists, I don’t know what it is like for a fetus to feel pain. I don’t remember my time as a fetus. Is it more like how a toddler, a spider, a cow, a piglet, a piece of kale, or a shrimp feels pain? I have no idea. Scientists are certainly not even agreed on if a fetus feels pain at all. But I do know that the woman who needs to have an abortion in her 2nd trimester is suffering. 99 percent of all women who have abortions do it before twenty weeks. The women who have an abortion after are usually women that wanted a baby. Maybe they have already been thinking about names and designing the nursery. Why do they wait 20 weeks into their pregnancy? When they are already probably showing a baby bump?
The answer is that comprehensive fetal testing, such as anatomical sonograms and ultrasounds of the heart, are typically performed just before 20 weeks of gestation. Such scans are critical for uncovering major birth defects, such as anencephaly (severe brain malformations), major heart defects, missing organs and limbs, and other severe birth defects. Fetal development is a complex process that often goes awry. Roughly 2 percent of all pregnancies are complicated by a major birth defect, and of those about 0.5 percent have a chromosomal defect, such as an extra or missing segment of normal DNA. Birth defects are a leading cause of infant mortality, and in many cases of severe birth defects, no medical treatment can salvage a fetus’s life or result in any measure of normal future health. from Slate’s 7/11/13 story “Who Has an Abortion After 20 Weeks?
This is what we mean when we say the decision to have an abortion should be between a woman and her doctor. It’s not just a cute phrase. I think a second term abortion the hardest decision many women ever face. These are the vast majority of this one percent of abortions. If you watched the public testimonies a few weeks ago you no doubt saw some heartbreaking stories of women talking about going through this process. Another unintended aspect of the twenty week ban will undoubtedly be that women have an abortion before they can fully decide if they want to try and keep the baby because they know they will lose the option soon. Read a friend of mine’s story about being in this very situation.
In addition to these women’s health issues there are also women’s rights issues involved. Something I don’t really see anti-choice advocates talk about is bodily autonomy. They see the fetus as a life and that it should have the right to be alive no matter what its host’s body wants. But a woman is more than just a host. She is an American citizen and she has the right to do what she wants with her body. That’s why stealing someone’s kidney’s is illegal. You couldn’t tell a judge “well I needed the kidney to live and the woman has two of them anyway”. A woman can donate her kidney the same way she can have a baby, with consent and probably help from her doctor. No one demands people risk their lives through medical procedures that are unnecessary for them to save some else’s life. This is why women are allowed to decide whether or not that they are going to give birth to a baby.
So maybe you understand a woman’s right to her own bodily autonomy but you still believe that every baby that is conceived should be born and if women don’t want to have a baby they shouldn’t get pregnant. Well, if you agree with that you are hopefully a democrat because in this state democrats are the only politicians that try to make sure unwanted babies are never conceived in the first place. Research shows that the very best way to cut down on unintended pregnancies is through sex-education, teaching people, especially young fertile hormonal teens how to use birth control, how you get pregnant, and offering free or low-cost birth control methods has repeatedly been shown as the very best way to stop pregnancies.
Why do republicans vote for abstinence only education when studies show it leads to unwanted pregnancies? Why do they add medically unnecessary sonogram bills? Why do they fund “crisis pregnancy centers” that spread misinformation like that having abortions leads to cancer and stop funding women’s health clinics that do everything from distributing condoms to giving low cost pelvic exams and give women information about where they can get abortions? Why do they think a woman hasn’t given any thought to if she wants an abortion and mandates a 24 hour waiting period? Why did Texas legislators think that making health insurance providers cover birth control was a travesty against Christians? Why did Rick Perry think that this bill should be debated in a special session when the rules are different? Why do they then break their own rules? Why do so many Republicans, including the author of this bill in Texas, not understand that you can get pregnant through rape and the state doesn’t do anything to “clean you out”? Why have they spent their entire time in control of the house getting rid of a woman’s access to a safe legal abortion in this state? Why didn’t they accept one single amendment to the bill? Like allowing exceptions for women that were raped, mentally ill, or having medical complications?
If you can answer all of these questions without coming to the same conclusions as me please let me know. But before you do, first read this story from Libby Anne, who used to be president of her university’s Students for Life chapter. Really, if you are anti-choice and you read one link in this whole post, this is the one that I would ask you to read.
You don’t have to support abortion to be pro-choice. That’s why it’s called pro-choice instead of pro-abortion. You just have to believe that other women can make their own decisions on what they are going to do with their own body.
So today I am going to go down to the capital and wear orange scream my guts out. Even though I know that Rick Perry loves to hear women scream and that it shows him how well he’s doing his job. When people in our society start to lose their rights, we all lose.