The ignorant and cruel statements of Todd Akin, Paul Ryan, Steve King and Richard Mourdock about women and pregnancy are a stark reminder for me of what’s at stake with a Romney presidency: my own daughter’s life and health. Hop over the orange fettucine for the story, and my first diary.
My daughter and her husband were radiant with joy when they told us she was expecting their first child. But just a month later, I had a frantic call from her: she had been vomiting uncontrollably, could not even keep water down, and had lost 12 pounds in a week. They were rushing her to the emergency room. Could I please come as fast as possible and meet them there? She wanted my help and support.
As I drove the hour to the hospital nearest their home, my heart was pounding with fear for my child. Her doctor put her on an IV, with the same drugs they give cancer patients to fight the nausea of chemotherapy. She needed medication the entire pregnancy. Every day she balanced a choice between her own health and continuing her pregnancy. She and her husband were finally blessed with a healthy little boy, after 9 very precarious months.
But she wanted a second child, even after that. They moved close to us because she knew she would need all possible help to get through a second pregnancy. I was terrified for her, but she fought like a tiger as an even worse pregnancy started. This doctor was more aggressive: he put her on IV’s three times a week the minute she started being ill. We would sit together in the infusion center with the cancer patients trying to stave off death with chemotherapy, while she tried to stave off the overpowering nausea to save her own life and that of the fetus.
She came close some days to giving up: imagine having the flu for 9 straight months, and you may have some idea how hard this was. But who has the right to make that decision, if not the woman who is suffering? That’s what we teach in medical ethics courses: respect for the autonomy of the patient. She could call on her doctor for medical advice, and on her husband and her mother for support, but in the end, it was her body, her pain, her life, and her choice.
We lucked out. She had a choice, and she had a good doctor, and, in the end, she had a beautiful baby girl. But Romney and his party would take that choice away. What would happen if she should get pregnant again? It’s been known to happen. Instead of her mother showing up for moral support, she would have Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan denouncing her from their pulpit-presidency. To them, there is no such thing as a difficult pregnancy, and women are only the walking petri dishes for the next generation. Under their proposed laws, if her health and endurance gave out, she and her doctor could face arrest and imprisonment. This is what’s at stake for us.
Please vote for President Obama and for Democratic candidates for national and state offices. And please tell everyone you know that they need to vote. The outcome could, quite literally, mean life or death for women you know.