Tuesday, July 26, 2005

About being a Pro, one way or the other..

One of my last posts, for now anyway, on this issue of Abortion-- Closure having come from listening to the official stand of both pro-lifers and pro-choicers on the aforementioned subject.

The benevolent Mr. Krauss felt that the best way to give us students a comprehensive look at the issue would be to invite two representatives of both sides to talk to us.

They took that point to heart. Talking to us, that is. One even talked at us. Talking with us of course, being outside their job description.

The pro-choicer came first, as a representative of NARAL. She brought with her flyaway officially blonde American hair, a business-like authority and hand-outs that seemed to say that contraception and medicare was what pro-choicers were fighting for, not the right to free and fair abortions. I found this a bit amusing-- Only because I always appreciate good marketing. By talking about contraception and medicare failings on the part of the government, stating the first as a method to prevent the need for abortions, and the second as a good reason why pregnancies place financial burdens on the mother, and thus abortions would help take that burden away, the woman deftly steered away from the most controversial bits.

Nothing was said about partial birth abortion. Nothing was said about providing expectant women with opportunities other than abortion to help deal with the foetus. She did cover the political aspect a little, and spoke of the injustice behind the government removing the citizen-- and what was obviously ten times worse, the woman's-- right to choose.

That right to choose rankled my friends. One asked what about the foetus' right to choose?

She looked puzzled, and asked him to repeat the question. Which he did, with indignant clarity. Go Bilal, go.

She mentioned the metaphor of the acorn and oak tree, stating that one could not say that the acorn "is" a tree, until the oak grows- root bark branches and leaves. The potential for life was pooh-poohed.

That left most of us gasping with the effort it took to stop ourselves from standing up and cussing in our respective vernaculars. That left me wondering whimsically at who came up with that example, and whether when that was first said out loud, if a room full of pro-choicers jumped up and clapped till their pantyhose waved triumphant.

I suppose the anger and confusion arose out of the complete lack of a valid connection between a human foetus and an acorn. Acorns, am sure, are wonderful little nuts. But what about the lack of sensory nerves, and the appearance of human features at 11 weeks into gestation?

An acorn falls into ground that sometimes helps it grow, and sometimes kills it. A baby starts in a warm, soft, nutrient-filled place which is a constant, race creed and country no bar. If it was so left to chance, this issue of birthing, then why doesn't the stork deliver them, or why dont they show up in the mail?

We spluttered, and she left.

The next speaker was a pro-lifer. In black and white, clean and precise, she came in armed with plastic tiny foetuses, 2 videos and enough pamphlets to paper our dorm rooms. She scored high points for preparation.

Her focus was that of partial birth abortion, and the lack of awareness of the foetuses own being. Personhood of the little bugger was not a question with her. With the models and with the videos she told us calmly of when fingers first formed, of responses to stimuli in the first trimester itself (3 weeks) which is the offically prescribed "best time" for having an abortion, and which the pro-choicer blondie declared was the period chosen by 98% of women to have an abortion.

It was curious however, that the videos focussed on women who though did have their abortions in the first trimester, were forced into the decision by family and partners, who declared moral or medical reasons: there was one woman who had a baby who was diagnosed with Down's syndrome, and whose partner asked her to get the abortion.

The videos were stark. No blood and screams, but tears and words describing how the act was regretted, how no one told them about the baby being "human" and not just a mass of cells.... how no one described fingers, and no one talked about the actual process of partial birth abortion.

Which by the way, consists of dilating a woman's cervix over 3 days, and then pulling the little thing out, feet first, with a pair of tongs, and while it's head is still inside, puncturing its spine and suctioning its brain out.

Which was, btw, a method used by the ancient egyptians to mummify their dead. Dead being the operative word.

None of us knew about the procedure. Neither, according to the video, did the women who got the abortion. You can imagine our reaction, especially since she had just passed around a soft-rubbered, moulded 6 week version of a baby, complete with nose, fingers and toes. Faces were turned away, and I am proud to say tears were shed. So much for the cynicism that pop culture brings.

The number of partial birth abortion cases, the pro-lifer declared, are never comprehensive, because it depends on who releases the information, and since its such a controversial operation-- note that the head remains inside, because if the kid was fully out, it would be infanticide-- no one wants to come out and claim statistics.

The videos-- and the speaker-- focussed on how no one tells the mothers about the procedures of abortion to be followed. This I found bizarre: go in for an open-heart surgery, and you can sue if Doctor Jones doesn't explain in detail the exact cuts he plans to make during your slicing and dicing. The problem is that since abortion is so hushed up, except in metropolitan cities, no one treats it as a surgical procedure which is exactly what it is.

Other issues were neatly addressed by this speaker-- who by the way, had an easier time simply because she had a sympathetic audience-- such as the issue of psychological health brought up by the pro-choicers.

Apparently a pregnancy could cause grave imbalance to a woman's mind. What the speaker did was to focus on the psychiatric issues that women who had gotten abortions faced, and which no one talked about, except the "victims" themselves, and that too only now. Much weeping, much talk of anniversary syndromes, of the inability to have more children due to a perforated uterus, or wondering what the child at 5 would've looked like.

Amidst the on screen weeping, and the plastic kiddies with thumbs and umbilical cords-- a few strong arguments came up which I wonder how pro-choicers fight with any validity.

The first was the issue of choice. Pro-choicers say a woman has the right to choose, the right to her own privacy. And yet, according to the pro-lifer, they are not allowed to retract their decision.

I can put off a bloodtest. According to the videos and the speaker, a woman who schedules an abortion can't go back on it. She is strapped down, jabbed and anaesthesized.

Jesus. I mean really. How is that freedom to choose?

The second, is the sparseness of choice. For pro-choicers like NARAL, abortion is the only other option a woman can choose other than having her baby. No one talks about adoption, no one talks about pregnancy centres or financial aid.

I am only curious to know why. And also, why ban ultrasounds from abortion centres?

In short-- Why are you so desperate to hide the kid's appearance from the mother?

Fear that she will change her mind, and you will be stripped of a cause to fight for?

Bush signed the ban on partial birth abortions. Probably the only intelligent thing he ever did during his term. It was almost immediately called into question by the Congress, who fuddle-duddled with the litigation and the bone-weary defintion of privacy according to the 14th amendment.

I am bone weary. Because I have a vague suspicion that in this fight to make a blanket law for what is and always will be an individual decision, sovereign to each case, the very people whose rights are being fought for-- the indigineous, uneducated, underage women of America-- are the ones who are suffering the most, being victims of propoganda and vote gathering.

As for the foetuses-- My children, the thought of you dying unnoticed, unnamed and un first-toothed pains me beyond measure. But in such a world of chaotic, skirted, flag-waving women and political brochures, I can only hope you will be born into another time where the grown-ups remember what it was like to depend on someone else for the chance to live.


A Hairy Snail said...

abortion is murder. some have compared it to euthanasia - but there is a stark difference between the two. atleast euthanasia is about the choice of the person who wants to die.

abortion on the other hand is like throttling someone in their sleep. no, actually tying them, gagging them, injecting them with anesthesia, and then throttling them.

Michael Krauss said...

Hi Pri,

I appreciate the thought and effort you put into your writing. As you spend the next two years in the U.S., you'll be able to continue your investigation into this whole "right to life/choose" matter. Truly, it will give you insight into many important parts of American culture. You've been exposed to the public players from NARAL and Pro Life Oregon. Now, over the coming months, you'll have a chance to get a feel for what the "person on the street (or in the college dorm)" feels about these issues, which you might find even more enlightening. I know you'll enjoy the process!

Good luck as you go forward with your studies!



The Wizard of Odd said...

true, Ari- not sure why people want to play with life so much.

Professor Krauss- thankyou :)