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I've written about this here before, but it bears repeating given the introduction of HR 358, the Republicans' latest attempt to make sure that no woman anywhere ever has access to an abortion, even when it's necessary to save her life.

My mother had a life-saving abortion when I was little. Republicans would have let her die. Somehow they think that makes them "pro-life."

I think I was about three years old at the time -- I'm the second of four children, and my two younger sisters are one and two years younger than me, respectively. My older sister remembers it a lot better than I do; I have only vague memories of Mom being very sick and our grandparents coming to stay with us for a week so Dad could take her to the big-city hospital for surgery.

The would-be baby was also very sick and the doctors determined that there was a good chance it wouldn't survive to term. They also determined that the probability of Mom surviving another labor was infinitesimal. With four children aged five or younger already, my parents were left with a horrible choice: have an abortion to try to save Mom's life or make her death a near certainty for the chance the baby would survive and leave a grieving father to raise five young children on his own. To this day, Mom breaks down on the rare occasions she has to talk about it and Dad gets choked up any time the topic is mentioned, but Mom's health and life were, are, and forever will be infinitely more important than the mere potential for the health and life of another person not even born yet.

And so Mom had an abortion that saved her life, and a late-term abortion at that. Had she gone to a clinic like the one run by the late Dr. George Tiller, I'm sure some lovely people would have been waiting outside to yell and scream bloody murder at her for daring to save her own life and think about the welfare of her family. As it was, I'm led to understand that even in the hospital, there were people who made snide remarks.

If I believed in Hell, there would be a special corner of it just for those people.

My sisters are my best friends in the whole world and there is nothing I wouldn't do for any of them. Our other sibling, the one who might have been born, would be about 28 now had s/he lived, and I have no doubt we would have had a similar dynamic with our little brother or sister as we do with each other. But we would have grown up without Mom. Dad would have had to take care of us on his own, without Mom. All of our lives would have been very different in so many ways I cannot count, none of them good.

Republicans like to make things very simple. They like to talk about abortion as if it's a simple matter of right or wrong, with wrong winning out every time. They pretend it's about the right to life and family values. But it's not simple, it's not a question of right or wrong, and it has nothing to do with fighting for the right to life or family values. And I can't tell if they don't get it because they just don't care or because they're too stupid, selfish, judgmental, self-entitled, petty, evil, or some combination of these and other negative character traits.

And so I direct this paragraph and the one that follows to all those who would like to pretend it's that simple. Like all matters of human behavior, abortion is rarely simple. One-size-fits-all pronouncements meant to fit the standards you prefer is never going to work, and no matter how much you want to pretend it will, you don't know the details behind why any given woman in any given situation would seek an abortion. You don't know her circumstances. You don't know if she can take care of herself or a baby -- and you've made it damn clear you're not going to be there to help after the kid is born. You don't know if she's married to a loving husband who can help her provide a loving, stable, financially secure home for a child, or if she's pregnant because of rape, or incest, or because some asshole she thought loved her abandoned her the second he found out she was pregnant. You don't know if her parents or boyfriend or husband or someone else will harm her or kick her out on the street if they find out she's pregnant -- and you've made it damn clear you're not going to be there to help her if they do. You don't know what she thinks or believes about abortion, if she has a faith or philosophy that gives her guidance -- and you sure as hell don't care if what she thinks or believes is different from what you believe because you're hellbent on imposing your belief on her no matter what. And you don't have to live in her body, take the medical risks inherent in pregnancy, or undergo the changes to her body -- but you've made it amply clear you intend to force her to do what you want her to do anyway. You don't have all the details that are necessary to make an informed decision about the proper course of action for any given woman -- but you don't care. None of this is any of your business, but you insist on making it your business, on imposing your will on everyone else, and pretending that anyone who disagrees with you is somehow immoral, irresponsible, unworthy, or evil.

There's nothing "pro-life" about your position. Your position gets women killed, as it would have killed my mother. "Family values" have nothing to do with your position. Your position would deprive families like mine of their mothers, their daughters, and their sisters. What happened to Mom's right to live? Why should she have died for a child who was unlikely to live? Why should my father have been expected to sacrifice his wife because of the parochial religious agenda of a bunch of men in Washington? What of the right of my sisters and me not to have our mother so cruelly and unnecessarily taken from us so early in our lives? What of the right of countless other families not to be devastated by the preventable death of someone they love? What family values are upheld by imposing these horrible sacrifices and their long-term effects on families and society as a whole?

My parents made the right call, and thank goodness Mom's doctors were skilled enough to perform the necessary procedure unencumbered by restrictions that would have forced them to leave Mom to die. And if you have a problem with that and I believed in Hell... Well, you remember that corner reserved for the judgmental assholes I mentioned who would have been there had Mom had to go to a clinic? Yeah, that corner. You'd have a reservation there right alongside them.

Originally posted to וויסקמס on Fri Feb 04, 2011 at 03:05 PM PST.

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