I have always been Pro-Choice. Always. I remember when Roe passed, in fact it was a time to celebrate in my family. I only found out why many years later.
I was only ten years old when Roe v. Wade passed. It is the first SCOTUS decision I remember knowing anything about. My grandmother, a life-long "damn-o-crat" explained the decision to me, how it was a fantastic gift to women and how it could improve the lives of women everywhere. She took me aside and told me that if I ever "got in trouble" I could come to her and she would help me "take care of it." And most importantly, that nobody else would ever know. I remember thinking at the time that this would never be an issue for me. And it wasn't-- or so I thought.
Then last week as I was checking out my Twitter timeline I saw a Tweet from Martha Plimpton that read, "Have you had to terminate a pregnancy to save your health/life? Tell that idiot @RepJoeWalsh #WeExist." This came after US Representative Joe Walsh, R, 8th district of Illinois, said, “There’s no such exception as life of the mother,” said Walsh after an Oct. 18 debate. “And as far as health of the mother, same thing, with advances in science and technology. Health of the mother has become a tool for abortions any time, under any reason.” He even added, ""With modern technology and science, you can't find one instance," which is one of the more ridiculous things that Republican men have ever said about abortion, and they've said a lot of ridiculous things. Our own Republican candidate drew national attention for saying that abortion causes cancer. He later said he'd been mistaken. No shit, Sherlock. (Sources: Bloomberg News and http:LA Times)
All of a sudden it dawned on me that I DID have an abortion!
I replied, "@MarthaPlimpton @RepJoeWalsh Never thought about it like that, but I had an abortion. Ectopic pregnancy- would have died w/o it. #WeExist".
Way back in the fall of '92 I got sick. I was attending college (again) and had a niggling stomach pain that I couldn't quite locate. It was just enough to barely notice. Then I started feeling nauseated a day or two later. I didn't think much about it, other than to hope I wasn't getting the flu that everyone at school seemed to have. I went to the doctor and he said, "Flu!" and so I laid in a supply of clear liquids and Immodium on my way home and lined my bedroom waste paper basket with a several layers of plastic bags just in case I couldn't make it to the bathroom in time. I changed the sheets, fluffed the pillows and opened a new box of Kleenex. I was ready. But the flu never came.
I was still waiting for the flu to set in when the pain in my stomach increased and localized to my lower left side. Someone suggested it was my appendix, but the appendix is on the right, and I didn't have one. I lost my appendix seven years before when I had my son by cesarean and the on-call surgeon said it, looked "funny." It looked funny alright-- if you consider a malignant tumor funny. But, by a true stroke of luck, he managed to excise my appendix with two cells of clear tissue between the slice and the cancerous cells. After consulting the best oncologist in my region it was determined that I didn't need any further treatment. I was lucky. Had my son not flatly refused to be born and the surgeon not noticed that my appendix looked "funny," I wouldn't be here today. But I digress.
So, the flu wasn't forthcoming, but I wasn't feeling any better, in fact, I was starting to feel a lot worse. That's when I decided to take a home pregnancy test, and sure enough, it was positive. I went back to my doctor, and had an ultrasound. The diagnosis-- ectopic pregnancy, specifically-- a tubal pregnancy. I was in surgery in a little more than 36 hours. It would have been less than 24 hours, but my general practitioner and my gynecologist don't practice at the same hospital. I had to leave the hospital of my G.P., against medical advice, with the promise (all but signed in blood) that I would go to my OB/GYN the next day.
Those two nights between the diagnosis and the surgery were a couple of the worst nights of my life. I was really sad because, even though the pregnancy hadn't been planned and I'd just found out, I wanted to give my son a brother or sister, something I'd never had. And I was fairly certain this had been my last chance, and I was right. Fertility was never one of my strong suits.
But here's the thing: I never thought about that surgery as an abortion. I never thought about there being any controversy surrounding a surgery that saves a life. If I was asked, I would have said that I hadn't ever had an abortion-- have said it! Worse, I didn't even realize I was lying. I'd be willing to bet there are a whole lot of women out there who are just like me in thinking they've never had an abortion when they actually have.
The official stance of the Republican platform says an “unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed.” No exception for the life of the mother. None. Zilch, nada, zip. According to the Centers for Disease Control, there were 1,294 maternal deaths related to pregnancy in 2006 and 2007 in the U.S.. That's a whole lotta "...can't find one instance(s)."
Last night I watched the "debate," if you can call a basic Q&A that, between California's first Congressional District candidates, Doug LaMalfa and Jim Reed. When asked about his views on abortion Mr. Reed rather apologetically said he's Pro-Choice. That made me feel kind of sad. He shouldn't have to apologize for trusting women enough to make their own life choices. He shouldn't have to apologize for supporting the ability to save women's lives whether that is financially, socially, or as in my case, quite literally. Even if he won't celebrate his support, I WILL. LaMalfa hemmed and hawed and came off looking stupid. But that's pretty much all he did the entire debate; he just looked like a dullard. I thought the moderator sucked, too. He didn't even ask LaMalfa about selling his water allotments to a for profit water outfit or breaking up the family farm to get around the cap on farm subsidies. The only thing LaMalfa spoke about with any passion or real knowledge was driving around his rice fields.
Let's all allow LaMalfa to drive around those fields every day. Let's send Reed to Washington. He trusts women.