Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Words and laws not hate speech and bullets

Anna N. at Jezebel has it right: (my bold)
Why can't the debate over abortion concentrate on laws and courts, rather than on individuals who perform a service that is legal and considered by many to be morally acceptable? William Saletan at Slate says, "If unborn children are morally equal to born children, then Tiller's assassin has just succeeded where the legal system failed: He has stopped a mass murderer from killing again." He says that the fact that pro-life groups have denounced Tiller's murderer shows they don't truly equate unborn children with born children, or abortion with murder. But there's another argument here, one that says if you truly disagree with abortion, you should seek to remove the laws that allow it, not the people who operate according to those laws. If the death of George Tiller shows us anything, it's that if there must be a battle over abortion, that battle should be fought at the polls and in the courtrooms, not in doctor's offices — and the weapons should be words, not bullets.
Anna N. links to stories by women helped by Dr. Tiller:
For the first time in eight weeks, a doctor was honest with us, and although it was her honesty that I hated, I was overcome with immense sadness. Late termination- how could I terminate my son? If we could hold on just 13 more weeks, then we’d have him to the best doctors, and they’d “fix” him and he’d be well.

The doctor mentioned a doctor in Kansas that, based upon this medical situation, could perform a late termination. The idea was so surreal- going to Kansas to terminate my son; he was supposed to be born to me and complete my family. After weeks of not knowing the prognosis, but gradually learning that this baby was so very sick, it didn’t take us very long to realize that traveling to Kansas to have this procedure done was saving our son from a brief life of respirators, dialysis, surgeries and pain.

When we arrived at the Women’s Health Center, we immediately felt the compassion and understanding from the entire staff. We had a story, and they listened. The doctor instantly connected with us and assured us that although our decision was a difficult one, he knew how sick our son was and that the choice we made was because we love him so much and couldn’t bear to put him through a short life full of pain and suffering.

The week we spent in Kansas was one of the toughest weeks of my life, one that I will never forget, nor will I choose to forget, but through my tears of sadness, love helped us through.
And this mother:
The next morning they gave me oxytocin to start my labor. A couple of hours later I delivered our son into this world. The drugs made me very amnesic but I do remember having a dream that my father-in-law and brother were looking down on me from heaven with the baby. They reassured me that everything was ok. I think sometimes God gives us those little nudges to help us through the hard days. Later that afternoon when the drugs had worn off we had a viewing of our son. I was unprepared for what I would see because during the two weeks since our final ultrasound the baby had developed severe hydrocephalus. Still I am grateful that we made the decision to have those few precious minutes with our son. I felt reassured that he was in a better place and that we had made the right decision.

It has now been five weeks. There are days when I am absolutely devastated. There are days when I almost feel like me. I hate that my son is gone. I hate that I had to make the decision to end his life. I hate that my womb and my arms are empty. But I am strengthened in the fact that I made my decision by focusing on him and what was best for him. I am eternally grateful to the wonderful people that guided me through this horrible experience with compassion, love, and understanding.
This is what the anti-choicers want women to deliver, defective babies who will experience a world of pain and inevitable death. Their hate rhetoric and rants have blinded them to the desperate need for such gracious doctors. I wonder if any of these anti-choicers has ever or will ever face the same horrific dilemma as these sorrowing women have?

You bet they will.

But they have made sure there will be no one to help them.

Update 6/4: adding this man's story:

Update 7/16:
How a late term abortion saved this woman's life:
I was immediately admitted to the hospital with severe preeclampsia, and though my doctors tried mightily to slow the progression of the disease, by the morning of October 27, 2004 a group of doctors stood at my bedside and delivered the worst news I'd ever received.

I was in advanced kidney failure. My blood pressure was skyrocketing, and it could not be controlled with medications. My liver was beginning to decline. The horrific headache I was experiencing could no longer be treated with pain medications because they were afraid it would depress my ability to breathe when I began to have the seizures they expected at any moment. I would soon likely suffer a stroke or a heart attack. In other words, I was going to die unless the pregnancy was terminated. Immediately.

There was no hope for my surviving son. He was too tiny and too frail to be viable. With my dangerously high blood pressure, a c-section would have likely caused me to bleed to death, and inducing labor would have stressed my system too much. My safest option was the procedure known as an intact dilation and extraction. It would save my life, and preserve my future fertility. As luck would have it, my obstetrician happened to be one of three doctors in the Philadelphia area that was both trained and willing to do the procedure. Within an hour of receiving my bad news, I lay in the surgical suite, covered in tubes and wires, weeping inconsolably as the doctors tried to offer comfort as they prepped me for surgery.

It was the worst day of my life.

After I came home from the hospital, grieving, I searched and found other women like me -- women whose lives were saved by the late-term medical termination of a pregnancy. I also met women who chose to spare their children from agonizing health conditions and birth defects by having an abortion. What I learned is that we are rare; only 1.1 percent of all abortions are performed after the 21st week of pregnancy (according to the Guttmacher Institute), and doctors only perform them in cases of extreme medical need. Dr. Tiller himself never performed a late term abortion without counseling the parents -- and getting a second opinion from another doctor. My doctor described the day of my surgery as the worst in his professional career.

With the help of other women like me, I grieved. I healed. I tried again, and in June of 2006, my wild and fierce daughter Victoria was born. As I healed, I came to realize how lucky I was. Yes, I said lucky. This was in 2004, before the Partial Birth Abortion Ban became law, and my doctors were able to move quickly to save my life without worrying about breaking the law. My doctor knew the procedure and was willing to perform it; something that has already become rare and will be rarer still if doctors have to put their lives on the line to perform this life saving medical procedure. If it's you or your daughter, will you be so lucky?

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