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When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross
- Sinclair Lewis
Abortion care providers in my state of Texas and nationwide have been under siege for over thirty five years by heavily propagandized fundamentalist Christian bullies, domestic terrorists, who know and understand little or nothing about abortion care but have swallowed whole, with neither mastication nor cogitation, the blatantly deceptive propaganda of the so-called "pro-life movement" and are convinced they know it all. The mind-numbingly outrageous Todd Akin is merely e pluribus unum.

I am a committed, proud, defiant abortion provider, and, believe me, defiance is an asset in the sociopolitical climate in which I practice abortion care.

I have often been asked why I provide abortion care, sometimes ragefully and accompanied by threats by zealous opponents of legal abortion. First, let me assure you that it is not that I love embryos and fetuses less, but that I love women and teenage girls more, although I must confess that, while I respect, support, and share any woman’s delight in a wanted pregnancy, I really have no love, nor any feeling at all, for insentient fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses in the wombs of women and teenage girls who do not want them there. The nature of fetal existence inside the body of a woman or girl is a profoundly unique and unparalleled situation in which the religious or political beliefs of others should have no right to intrude unless invited by the woman or girl herself.

Regardless of how strongly you believe that you know what you merely believe, you merely believe it, and you might be very wrong.
I respect and feel deep compassion for the dominion of any conscious human female over her own body and all that exists therein and feel no compassion for insentient embryos and fetuses that she doesn’t want there, whatever her own reasons, regarding her as the world’s foremost authority on her own best interests and realizing that she cannot fully pursue the personal freedom and human rights this nation was founded upon unless her own authority and individual responsibility over herself and her own body is respected by society and its laws.

There is perhaps no area of human behavior in which clear rational thought and understanding of factual reality is more obscured by obstinate prejudice, self-serving judgmental attitudes, and intransigent, willful ignorance supported only by emotionally charged irrational belief and misinformed and uninformed opinion and in which the consequences of this failure to face and accept truth, reason, and understanding are more catastrophically and mercilessly cruel than in matters concerning sexuality and reproduction, even among many physicians and other highly educated people who have had every opportunity to learn better.

There is much that needs saying (and hearing by open, rational, and honest minds) to illuminate the issues surrounding human sexuality, contraception, and abortion rights and to counter the tsunami of blatantly false, misleading, and inflammatory propaganda that has for many years, from launch pads in narrow-minded and rigidly legalistic religious belief systems, flooded the halls of government, courts of law, popular media, and the internet. To these perpetrators of blatant fraud “freedom” means their unconstrained license to tyrannize and oppress those who believe differently in a complete perversion and rejection of the meaning of freedom upon which this nation was founded. Far too many, still, in the 21st century, hold to the facetious maxim, “ignorance is bliss” (that is, the ignorance of comforting myth-based ideologies insufficiently challenged by rational skepticism, such as extreme religious belief masquerading as factual knowledge) though often believing they not only are not ignorant, but know it all, are absolutely right in all of their opinions and beliefs, are fiercely resistant to reconsidering any of them, and persist in plunging through their lives uninformed or misinformed, proud of it, and even aggressively defending and championing their ignorance and prejudice, oblivious to the swaths of pain, suffering and destruction they create in their wakes, feeling righteous about it, and striving to inflict their beliefs through force of law upon entire diverse populations composed of many varieties of believers and non-believers.

I’m referring, for example, to the pain and suffering and quite possible destruction of a conscious, feeling woman or teenage girl stricken with an unwanted pregnancy, which is often to her not, as those religious extremists who strive to have laws inflict their personal religious beliefs on everyone insist, a “precious gift from God” or a “wondrous divine miracle,” but a stressful catastrophe of devastating and incapacitating magnitude with profound repercussions for the rest of her life. Embryos and fetuses have no consciousness of their own existence. They cannot suffer or feel pain, pleasure, or anything else. We know that they do not have sufficient brain development and functionality for consciousness until well beyond twenty-four weeks of pregnancy. I find no compelling reason to distinguish them from the uncountable millions of early embryos lost onto used tampons and pads as the results of early miscarriages. But the women and teenage girls are a very different story. They are our wives, our daughters, our sisters, our mothers, our friends, our lovers. They think and feel. And we should think highly of them and feel deeply for them and honor and support their right to the freedom to control their own bodies.

A woman does not want an abortion like she wants a flashy new car; she wants an abortion like an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg to escape.
Women with unwanted pregnancies have always done whatever it takes to obtain abortions, whatever the risks, and they always will. The blood-drenched past of legal prohibition of abortion should have taught us all that the damage to the lives, health and well-being of conscious women and teenage girls is much too high a price to pay for restricting or criminalizing abortion in a futile attempt to save the lives of insentient embryos and fetuses inside the bodily domain of desperately unwilling hosts who would again in great numbers obtain dangerous illegal abortions if safe legal abortions were restricted or prohibited by law. Many would die. Many more would be seriously injured.

Women and teenage girls always have, and always will, have abortions, regardless of legality.

The political and legal - and moral - choice is not between abortion and no abortion. It is between very safe legal abortion and very dangerous illegal abortion.

Which would you choose?

Originally posted to Beket on Sun Oct 07, 2012 at 12:10 PM PDT.

Also republished by Abortion, Pro Choice, Sexism and Patriarchy, and Community Spotlight.

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