My young driver, Supreme Court, and a simple thought about abortion

The Supreme Court’s decisions last month were simply bad: allowing anti-abortion clinics to mislead women, upholding a truly rigged system of gerrymandering, ignoring unconstitutional racist context and motivation of Trump’s travel ban, and twisting the first amendment to harm workers in their ability to organize for collective bargaining. Added to that, we were shocked to learn that Justice Kennedy, a sometime swing voter, is retiring, leaving a vacancy for Trump to fill with a radical conservative.

So many bad decisions in such a short time reminds us of the fragility of our rights. Now more than ever we need to heed the ACLU and “vote like our rights depend in it” because they do! And as we come closer to losing a woman’s right to choose her own health outcomes, it seems like time to talk about it.

Here is a simple thought about abortion. Tell me I’m wrong:

My oldest son recently got his driver’s license! Despite long anticipation of this event (my very first blog considered this moment), he and I were not prepared for the question of whether or not he wanted to be an organ donor. He was hesitant, and who am I to tell him what to do on such a personal question? That is when it struck me…

Our society does not require people to donate parts of their dead body to save a life. It is optional, left to personal preference, religion or belief. Yet many would force a woman to compromise her living body and risk her health and possibly her life for the possibility of giving birth to life. We don’t require each other to donate blood even though that saves lives and has no negative health outcomes for us. We don’t even require people to save someone from dying right in front of us even though we could easily stop it. In Florida two teens were given a pass for filming a drowning man instead of lifting a finger to save him. Yet women endure a multitude of negative health outcomes when bringing a baby to term and giving birth.

While U.S. leadership is doing more to restrict women’s access to abortion, Ireland is in the process of ending its strict abortion ban, despite its Catholic majority. Now our U.S. Supreme Court is on the verge of being packed with staunch conservatives for decades to come. The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch (whose mother was a militant anti-abortionist under the Reagan administration) combined with Justice Kennedy’s impending vacancy while Republicans control the Senate bodes ill for preserving women’s rights.  While some states have laws protecting a woman’s right to choose (like Illinois who recently enacted legislation because of our proactive legislators and our active citizenry), if Roe v. Wade is overturned it will negatively impact women in 17 states.

Let’s be honest, pregnancy is a serious medical condition. Even in the modern world women still lose their lives due to pregnancy. On balance, it is safer for a woman’s life and long-term health to undergo an abortion procedure than to carry a baby to term.  Before you cringe at this statement, consider that our awareness of that is not causing abortion rates to increase, abortion rates are going down in the U.S. Indeed, women who intend to be moms (for the first time or many times over) still carry babies to term, bravely facing the wonderful and awful possibilities that await them.

Why are women held to a higher standard of care toward others than dead people are? Certainly our laws often impose a higher standard on people with a duty of care, like parents of a child. But while women’s organs get shifted and compromised, and some body functions get permanently affected, we don’t require a father to donate spare parts (like a kidney or portion of his lungs, liver, intestines, or pancreas) to save a daughter. We don’t even require police, who are sworn to “protect and defend“, to save anyone in particular unless perhaps when they created the hazardous situation for that person. Heck, we often don’t even discipline officers for injuring or killing people, but we will heckle and deride football players who kneel in support of life.  That’s pretty ironic. In fact, does anyone appreciate the vomit-inducing irony of having a president who has a history of molesting women, including having extramarital unprotected sex with women, and then has the gall to reduce women’s access to reproductive health care including abortions?

If you want to force women by law to bring a fetus to full term, then you must force all people to donate blood, and all parents to donate skin and body parts to their children, and all dead bodies to offer up their organs. While you are at it, you must punish sexually aggressive men (like our president) and give rapists a lifetime sentence (after all, being a mom is a lifetime commitment). You must create, and enforce by law, a culture that fully empowers women in controlling all sexual encounters, without power plays, abuse, and manipulation. If you want the laws of our government to govern so much of our personal lives, for the sake of life, then so be it.

If, instead, you feel that governmental laws should not invade your privacy nor dictate your personal  decisions, then defend a woman’s right to choose. Advocate to support Planned Parenthood.

My son opted out of the donor program at this time. And even though I know this program prevents deaths, collectively across America that could mean the equivalent of 22 jumbo jets crashing every year with no survivors, and even though my best friend died in her twenties while she was in need of an organ transplant, I support his sovereignty over his own body, his personal privacy from governmental inquiry requiring him to defend that intimate decision, and ultimately, I support his right to choose.

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