Opinion: Abortion laws harm women, don’t reduce abortions
Free Press Opinion Columnist
When I was pregnant with my second child 17 years ago, a good friend, who was living in Michigan and also pregnant, called frequently to compare experiences. After nearly two decades of building a secure life together and moving into their dream home, she and her husband were thrilled by the prospect of starting a family.
Since she was a month behind me with her pregnancy and I already had a child, I didn’t wonder about her incessant questions about how I was feeling and how my fetus was developing. It wasn’t until after her six-month prenatal appointment that I understood how scared she’d been.
After six months of gestation, a human fetus is well enough developed to determine the sex and the presence of abnormalities with an ultrasound. In the simplest of procedures, a medical professional moves an innocuous device over a woman’s belly, and a picture of her future offspring appears on a screen.
The printout I’d received of the blob, which my midwife assured me was a human female, became a cause for celebration and the first picture in my daughter’s baby book.
For my friend, the ultrasound marked the beginning of a family tragedy. She learned that her fetus was less active than mine because it was missing limbs and organs. Doctors said that carrying the fetus full-term was a possibility, but that survival outside the womb was not. They also said she could miscarry at any time.
My friend’s health was declining, and she was certain that her daughter was suffering. She and her husband, along with their doctor and their minister, made a decision, which they believed best for their family and their unborn child. She chose to have an abortion.
Michigan’s laws restricting late-term abortions meant that there was one clinic six hours away in Detroit and that she would have to participate in anti-abortion “counseling” before the pregnancy could be terminated.
For the mandatory “counseling” session, my friend and other women seeking abortions were seated together in a room where they watched a video demonstrating the different stages of fetal development.
She described the other women as being there to terminate unintended pregnancies in the early stages. She sobbed in front of them all when they showed how a fetus the age of hers, which was supposed to be just three months from birth, should be developing. She said nothing could have made her feel more guilty than that experience.
My friend named her unborn daughter after her great-grandma and buried her in the family’s plot at the cemetery.
Nearly a generation later, Colorado Republicans ended the 2015 legislative session with a bill requiring similar “counseling” prior to receiving an abortion, as well as a mandatory waiting period and mandatory ultrasound, which in Colorado Senate Bill 285, includes “endoscopic procedures.”
With pregnancy, endoscopy lasts about 20 minutes and requires a tool known as a vaginal probe. Forced endoscopy, which fits well within definitions of rape, was sponsored by 12 Colorado Republicans.
Although Democrats killed the bill in committee before Mesa’s County’s Senator Scott and Representatives Thurlow and Willett could weigh in, the men’s voting history suggests any legislation restricting abortions would have their full support.
In the final week of the session, Representatives Thurlow and Willett voted in favor of Senate Bill 268, which defines a “person” as an unborn child at any stage of gestation from conception until live birth.
Proponents argue that the bill is supposed to be about crimes against women rather than banning abortion. Still, though, they can’t deny that there could be some pretty serious economic and social consequences to defining an egg with a sperm attached to it as a human being.
Access to birth control remains the best way to reduce abortions, as proven by Colorado’s experiment with free birth control for teenagers, which has reduced teen pregnancies statewide by 40 percent. Senator Scott just voted in opposition to the award-winning program.
Since experiments with vaginal probing and harassment of women continue to demonstrate that neither reduce unintended pregnancies or abortions, one really has to wonder why our senators and representatives continue supporting such archaic measures.
A fourth generation Coloradan, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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