which baby’s life would you save? (written in 2010)

Let’s say you believe life begins at conception. Personally, and by that I mean for me, I believe it does. We’ll start with that assumption. In fact, let’s just agree with the Republican Platform where they “affirm that the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life which cannot be infringed…and we endorse legislation to make clear that the Fourteenth Amendment’s protections apply to unborn children.” Additionally, all Republicans who receive support from the national party believe this. Let’s be Republicans for a moment here. Not right-wing-extremists. Just Republicans, moderates, left-leaning, even. But we are Republicans who are receiving support from the national party. So. Life begins at conception. Got it? Okay.

Here’s what I encourage you to consider.

The house is burning down. In the room most consumed by flames there is a three year old child, screaming, crying, pleading for your rescue. Next to the child is a petri dish containing live human cells about five days after fertilization, at the blastocyst stage. They are about to be transferred into the waiting mother that evening. You are only able to save one of these babies.

Which baby would you save?

Why?

How would you feel if you could only save the younger baby?

How would you feel if you could only save the older baby?

How are those feelings different?

Now, a second story for your consideration.

Again, a fire is consuming the building. In the room, engulfed in flames is a crying infant. A newborn, just hours old. Next to that baby is a woman, comatose or in a “vegetative” state. All medical personnel have agreed she will never wake up. She is, however, carrying a baby inside her. She has almost reached full term. Most reasonable people would describe her as having a baby inside of her. If it were born now, it would survive.

There is no time, though, to take time for considering your options. You will either save the crying newborn, or the effectively dead woman and her live baby.

Which baby would you save?

Why?

How would you feel if you could only save the younger baby?

How would you feel if you could only save the older baby?

How are those feelings different?

Probably, when faced with this sort of decision you feel even more serious discomfort. Perhaps you are the sort of person who simply can’t deal in hypothetical questions or think they are pointless. That’s fine. Don’t do it. If you are like me, the conflict is so great a choice seems impossible.

You see, as most of us recognize, abortion is complicated. And, you may see in that first example, there is a point where most reasonable people will put the life of the born child before the unborn child. The second example is more complicated, but, if you are anything like me, you might lean toward the born child. It’s even horrible and shameful just typing that.

If you vote for a Republican, though, no matter how moderate or centrist, if they have support from the national party, you are voting for someone who has said in writing they believe those cells in the petri dish have as much a right to life as that crying toddler. Either they believe this, or they lied to get the support of their party.

The Republican party is run by extremists who don’t speak for most Americans. We progressives have done a horrible job exposing their immoral behavior.

If you know someone who believes Republicans stand for family values, please ask them to talk with their representatives. Have they signed the Republican platform? Do they believe in what they signed? Or, were they lying so they could get the support of the party?

Cells in a petri dish = a toddler. Or, lying just to get elected.

Those are the choices for Republicans.

a woman’s right to kill her baby

My friend won’t let me kill my baby. Or, to be much more accurate, she wants politicians and laws to decide when or if it’s okay to kill my baby. I’m 23 weeks pregnant and I’ve had a human life in me since the day I got the first positive pregnancy test. Now, we’ve named her, she’s a she (as far as we know), she wiggles like crazy, she’s about a pound and a half with almost all fully functioning organs (just her lungs need serious continued growth). She’s been “viable” since 2 weeks ago. Still, she’s inside of me. My body. Not someone else’s. If I wanted to kill her, that’s my right.

The language I’m using is provocative. If anti-choice and pro-choice believers want to come to any sort of agreement on the issue of personal choice in abortion we need to be willing to speak or at least hear each other’s language. I’ve written my description in horrifying terms: killing a baby. It makes my skin crawl just reading the title of this essay. But I realize that’s how my friend would see it. And, in my own case — for me — that’s how I see it, too.

Since I can remember, I’ve known in my heart I couldn’t have an abortion. Of course we can’t ever know what the future holds, but I went to extraordinary measures to avoid pregnancy. I didn’t have intercourse until I knew I would be able to care for a child. Then I always used birth control. No matter how wasted I got (those were some challenging times, the 90s) I never had sex without birth control. Because, as I’ve said, as soon as I know I’m pregnant, logic or science aside, I feel I’m carrying my child inside me. Immediately I begin the relationship that will last for both of our lives where I will care for that child forever.

My position as a pro-choice woman is just as strong, however, as my personal choice not to have abortions. There are several facets to this position. The first, and the least digestible for the anti-choice movement, is that I believe knowing when life begins is a personal and spiritual decision. I have friends who believe life begins with the quickening (feeling movement of the fetus). I have friends who have had multiple abortions who still aren’t sure when life begins. I also have friends who believe life starts at conception, but have had abortions. This aspect of the pro-choice movement is typically pointless as we debate with the anti-choice believers. To most of them, abortion is always murder.

Carrying a fetus, a baby, inside our bodies is an ability only for people who have a uterus. It is this fact alone that makes abortion different than all other laws governing our bodies. We have laws that say we can not physically beat each other up. We obviously have laws against murder. We have laws that try (in vain) to prevent self- or other-harm through drug use or acts like drinking and driving. And, as soon as an infant is outside of its mother, we have laws protecting that child. Thankfully, infanticide is illegal in our country. There is no comparable situation, however, where cis-gender men or boys have a life growing inside of them.

When we begin legislating medical decisions for one group of people and not for any other, we say that group has fewer rights than the others. Therefore, no matter how difficult it is for some people to accept, no laws should govern what happens to someone’s pregnancy. Until my baby is born, what happens to her is entirely my decision. And I will fight for the right for anyone with a uterus to control their body however they see fit as fiercely as I will fight to keep my own baby safe and healthy.