Opinion: The hardest decision
Free Press Opinion Columnist
With its state-of-the-art services for moms and fetuses in serious trouble, beds in Denver’s Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center are coveted by families throughout Colorado and its surrounding states. I’ll never forget the day 18 years ago when I called my partner at work to inform him that I was being rushed to that hospital. When he asked where I’d be, I could barely choke out the words “Labor and Delivery.”
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I’d done everything right, yet before my pregnancy was even noticeable to most people, I developed life-threatening complications called hemolysis, elevated-liver enzymes and low platelet count, or HELLP Syndrome. The disease may result in liver and kidney shutdowns and can have a pretty high mortality rate for mothers and babies. The cause remains a mystery.
My baby was born two months before we’d even considered names, and during the five weeks he spent in the hospital, we simply called him “Little Man.” Since he was born before he’d developed his baby fat or the oversized head we find so endearing in babies, he really did look more like a miniature man than a baby.
The neonatal ICU was filled with premature babies, most of whom were born earlier than my son. Without tremendous resources, which cost thousands of dollars a day, they would die. Still, though, they were clearly human beings, most of whom would grow into healthy children and adults.
As an advocate for the rights of women and families, I couldn’t help but look at those babies and consider that they were the same gestational age as fetuses in late-term abortions. It became clear that women are making some very serious decisions when they decide to bear a child or not.
Conservative male politicians, including our own Representative Jared Wright, have devoted countless hours and resources to regulating women’s bodies. They rarely include women or medical professionals in their discussions and refuse to consider why women have abortions in the first place.
As Colorado’s 2014 Legislative Session swings into action, it’s clear that uterine regulation will once again be a priority. Jared Wright has already introduced a bill which would define life as beginning at conception and outlaw abortion. He has failed to mention that defining conception as the beginning of life outlaws the most common and reliable birth control methods.
A fact that Wright and other so-called pro-lifers refuse to acknowledge is that no one is pro-abortion. Abortion is the most personal and potentially life-altering decision anyone can make. It can be as traumatic as being raped or fighting in a war. Comments of Republican “leaders” would have us believing that women have abortions for fun and that we are weak-minded, hormone-driven creatures likely to indiscriminately kill our babies and fetuses unless the law mandates otherwise.
The reality is that abortions usually occur when women lack birth control or know they can’t adequately provide for a child, most often because of poverty or a lack of access to health care. Most Republicans are pretty outspoken in their opposition to fair and universal health care and birth control, and it was the Republican controlled U.S. House of Representatives which just cut food stamps for our neediest citizens.
Late-term abortions tend to occur, not because the mother has gotten bored or changed or mind, but because of serious health issues for her baby or herself. Most of these issues cannot be verified until a fetus has developed for six months.
The motivation of Wright and the countless other Republican politicians throughout Colorado and the rest of the country, who proclaim opposition to abortion, have little to do with fetal and maternal health and serve only to control and dominate women and families. It is hypocritical to suppose that, as a woman, I am incapable of making reasonable decisions about what is best for me, my body, and my family but to then leave me in charge of a child after birth. If Republicans truly care about the sanctity of life, they will keep out of my womb and my bedroom and start fighting for the quality of life every American deserves.
A fourth generation Coloradan, GJ Free Press columnist Robyn Parker is the former host of the progressive community radio show, Grand Valley Live. She is a stay-at-home mom, active community volunteer and board member for local environmental and social justice organizations. Robyn may be reached at email@example.com.
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