Instead of writing he or she or he/she, and for the sake of simplicity, I'm going to use he or him. That does not indicate my position on equality, since I believe the sexes are potentially equal. It's just makes for easier writing, and anyway, "he" is shorter than "she"!
I don't understand how any human being can be so arrogant as to state categorically when a life begins. Whether it's when the ovum is fertilized, or when it's a fetus at 4 weeks, 8 weeks, or 20 weeks etc. Who knows? Nobody knows. It's like arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. People have opinions, and they may all be wrong. Or they may all be right. I don't understand how any person can be so sure he is right, not only for himself but also for everyone else, that he feels justified in imposing his point of view on others. I don't understand how anyone, without standing in another person's shoes and understanding that person's intellect, emotions and value systems, can have the impudence to tell her what is right for her. I do not understand a politician feeling justified in standing between a patient and her doctor making a difficult decision. I do not understand a politician feeling justified in standing between a patient and her religious or spiritual advisor making a difficult personal decision of conscience. I do not understand any person feeling he has the right to make medical choices and decisions of conscience for any other person. I just don't understand.
I was born into and brought up in a restrictive religious environment. That was the value system I brought to London University in the 1950s. In the few years I was in London I learned much more than I was taught in medical school. The world is much bigger than my small corner of origin. People have widely different backgrounds and widely differing viewpoints, and pretty much all think they are right. Not only the world, but also the universe is huge, and the chance that my corner is the only corner which "has it right" is zero in a billion billion billion. Probably! Many of society's rules are not logical (I read and enjoyed Mark Twain). I need to make up my own mind about matters, and I might be wrong. On the other hand I might be right, along with many other points of view conflicting with mine which might also be right. Almost a lifetime later, I'm still learning these lessons and with the self-contradiction characteristic of the human condition, wish that I could inflict them on a world of insanity overtaking the U.S.
Abortion was in almost all cases illegal in the 50s. We students were initiated into the real world. It was very disturbing for those of us from a rigid religious background. We saw many women from poor and middle class backgrounds, and maybe some from upper class backgrounds, die of septicemia after botched abortions with knitting needles and coathangers and the like. It was not a pretty sight. Neither anatomy nor sterile conditions was understood by the operator. There were not many antibiotics, and what was available did not touch the lethal bacteria. On the other end of the scale, wealthy women had a surgical procedures in the operating room using an abdominal incision. Prior to the procedure they were seen by psychiatrists who would predict dire psychiatric consequences should the pregnancy go to term. In any case, by the time all this was determined, the pregnancy was far enough advanced it was possible to see the features of a child in the fetus. It was quickly covered with a towel, and removed. I hated it. If you think that kind of situation would not occur in the US, think again. If the pro-lifers get what they want, and abortions become illegal again, it will NOT stop abortions. The poor will get what they get, and the rich wives and mistresses and daughters will get what they want in secrecy, since anything can be bought.
My own experience of control of women came when I was about to be married. I went to a Family Planning Clinic to be fitted with a diaphragm. I was refused no matter what my religious persuasion, because I was not yet married. There was nothing I could do. Note well however, that condoms were available to men without question in pharmacies. As far as pre-marital sex was concerned, women were sluts. But I heard it said many times, "Boys will be boys".
The change in the abortion laws in the UK in 1967 was a relief. The US followed suit in 1973. Methods of accomplishing abortion have changed, and there is even a "morning after" pill available. The kind of abdominal procedure I saw as a young student is rare I understand. Approximately 88% of abortions are done before 12 or 13 weeks. Many people say that a woman should make up her mind before 20 weeks, but that shows ignorance on the part of the person making the statement. It's not only ignorant, but criminal to my mind, when that kind of ignorance exists in a politician voting on the issue. Many fetal abnormalities do not make themselves known until about 20 weeks, and there are several other sound medical reasons why a pregnancy should be terminated at a similar stage in the pregnancy.
I believe that having an abortion is never an easy decision to make. Since it takes two to produce a pregnancy, it would be ideal to have two participating in the decision of what to do about it. The fact that there are so many women raising children alone without the support of the biological father testifies to the fact that there are many men who abdicate responsibility for their sexual activity. The woman cannot escape the responsibility, and without an involved partner, ultimately she alone has to decide what her path will be. No one knows what she has already gone through in the relationship except herself, nor what she goes through in making a decision to abort. She should not be judged. "Judge Not Lest Ye Be Judged".
As for the politicians making these decisions. Well, in my mind they are practicing medicine without a license and should be taken to task legally for doing so. REAL doctors take about 12 years to become board certified in their field of expertise, and even after that have to carry malpractice insurance against medical problems occurring following their decisions. I wonder if the politicians thought of that? A nasty lawsuit can ruin a career.
It's easy to see that these anti-abortion bills are the work of ALEC, since so many states have been introducing them, and since the bills are so similar. It's also easy to see that in addition to the bills being anti-women, they are also all about money, not the "sanctity of life". Take Texas for example. It can be seen that Governor Perry cares significantly less about the CHILDREN of Texas than the FETUSES of Texas. In 2011 he scaled back $10 BILLION dollars of child support over two years. Yes, TEN BILLION DOLLARS! This despite a report from the Center for Public Policy Priorities which found that nearly one in four Texas children lived below the poverty line. This was also despite Texas having an $8.2 billion rainy day fund. (Info from ThinkProgress). The New Civil Rights Movement says "The citizens of Texas are stuck with a governor who has delivered to them the highest rate of repeat teen births." Of all states, Texas "Ranks #4 in population living below the poverty line; RANKS # 1 in CHILDREN WHO LACK HEALTH INSURANCE; RANKS #50 in $s SPENT ON MEDICAID FOR THE POOR AND CHILDREN." Lt. Gov. Dewhurst has acknowledged that the ULTIMATE GOAL IS TO SHUTTER ABORTION CLINICS. The new abortion law will see to it that only 5 of the 42 clinics will be able to stay open to serve the needs of women in Texas, and none of them are in rural areas. Oh, and as a bonus, nothing to do with abortion, Perry vetoed a bill on paying women equal pay for equal work. Nice work Perry, champion of women and the sanctity of life!
But all is not lost. There is a continuing movement to fight this injustice. As the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists said, "Texas women are renowned for their strength, courage and smarts." And women across the nation likewise. Great work all women, supportive men, and pro-choice organizations working hard to keep women's options open!! Keep up the pressure! Keep on letting America know what's really happening! Let's all show the controlling right-to-lifers, and the rich and powerful that this is truly "...the land of the free and the home of the brave!"