Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Opinion Piece: Abortion

Yeah, this is such a touchy subject that I'm sure that anywhere else I wrote this (ie: facebook) that I'd be inundated with countless angry replies and countless high fives. This is another subject that has people so largely divided that behind the keyboard, and sometimes even face to face, things get ugly. Lately, it also seems that with the end of a crazy presidential campaign, the swearing in of a new president (don't get me started or I'll start swearing), and this new president starting off his term of, what I already feel will be the longest term ever, four years with a resounding bang, everyone I know have starting debating and "sharing" their opinions (that's what they are, people, opinions) with a strength of black and white that I haven't encountered since debating religion in high school.

So, without further adieu, I hope I can convey my thoughts and opinion in a manner that truly conveys my thoughts. I get long winded and wordy, so I think I will, but there is so much running around in my head about so much of what is going on in the world,  I expect that I'll leave a thing or two out or not describe or explain very well. 

I believe that the battle between pro-life and pro-choice is a non-argument. I really and truly think that unless you have a uterus you have absolutely no say in the matter. I also think that at the point any woman who does have a uterus and faces that option should have the freedom to make whatever choice is best for her. There are so many things that women face regarding reproduction and it's sickening that there are so many men worried about our "health".  Every woman should have the option for safe clinics and doctors to perform abortions if that is the choice that she makes about her body. 

I absolutely get the "abortion is murder" argument that is usually the first thing that comes up regarding this topic.  I feel that for those women who feel that way, using their voices and talking about their views and even volunteering at unplanned pregnancy clinics is a great way to share your view and give the options that are out there other than abortion. But, there is this self righteous tone I hear and I also think that there has to be a bit of empathy toward a woman facing this choice that needs to be shared as well. Many women have never been in, nor can they associate with, some of the places that other women are in when they make this choice. Guilting them and telling them that they are going to hell isn't exactly giving actual and good reasons to make the pro-life choice.

Every time I hear the argument about abstinence or use a condom or just use birth control, I cringe. I cringe enough to strain my shoulders because it shows such a severe lack of understand regarding women and what they face and the actuality that birth control isn't 100%. 

I lived my 20's where birth control wasn't free unless you had no insurance and you were in a handful of states. I wasn't making enough money to live by myself, let alone forking over anywhere from $25 if you were lucky to $100 a month for the pill. I also spent a few years of my early twenties with an abusive man who took control of my money and didn't want me to get the pill. If I got pregnant, then in his mind, I was forever tied to him. 

Let me run through my list of birth control options and why they aren't always the best option for every woman. The pill is great other than what I stated in the above paragraph. Then there are women who can't tolerate the extra hormones or those susceptible to breast cancer since some cancers grow due to the hormones. Or there are other women like me who have high blood pressure and taking the pill with high blood pressure or over 35 are at risk of stroke. Or- it just plain doesn't work sometimes. Then there is the IUD. I got the copper one and it irritated my uterus and irritated what I unknowingly had called endometriosis, so I spent 2 years with this nagging, crampy feeling in my lower back and abdomen. There is also one that puts out a little bit of hormones and works great for some women, but still, there are the hormone risks I stated about and the risk of it being a constant irritant or it can even move and pierce body parts. Everything else that aren't a surgical procedure all work using hormone therapy.  I think I've explained how that isn't suited for every woman. Next, we go a little more invasive and a woman can have a uterine ablation. Ablation means “to remove by erosion, melting, evaporation, or vaporization.” Endometrial ablation is done with a hysteroscope, along with a device that heats, freezes, or lasers your endometrial lining. This destroys a layer of your endometrial lining, and usually your monthly menstrual period will stop completely—at least for a while—and usually you will not be able to become pregnant following uterine ablation. With ablation, there is still a .07% chance of pregnancy. There is the tying of tubes or a partial hysterectomy also to consider. The last 3 are all done under general anesthesia and it's a painful surgical procedure. I personally chose that hysterectomy and I spent 2 days in the hospital and then 6 weeks of not being able to lift more than a gallon of milk. Not the best option with tiny kids, but I had such high blood pressure, having more kids was not an option since it's only controlled by medicine which isn't ok to take while pregnant. 

All of the options above, the cheapest one with the shitty insurance I had, was nearly $300. It's been 2 years and I just only finished paying for the hysterectomy. I feel as though not only do the pro-life group not want to allow safe abortion options, not asking for funding- just allowing, but no one wants to do anything to make our options less expensive so that low and medium income women can avoid getting pregnant in the first place. Especially since I'm hearing how those in politics wants to get rid of ACA nor add any options for those who can't get or afford insurance any other way. We desperately need in our country better and more sex education in low income or poor parts of our country. Women are failed at every level around the world. In many African countries, women are raped and then shunned and dehumanized by their families, spouses, and peers. Here is a current list of the countries with the highest percentage of rape crimes and you might be surprised with the countries on the list (I looked at many sites that had percentages and statistics and they were all pretty much the same as the other). But not even on the subject of rape, there are countless cities and parts of cities around the US who have or are going to have no option for insurance, they can't afford birth control, and they aren't educated in ways to best prevent pregnancy or STD's or what they need to do to maintain women's health with pap smears and breast exams. 

What happens when poor and impoverished women aren't given tools to not get pregnant, and saying abstinence is the most obtuse answer- women are still used for sex and forced into it every second of every day around the world. I'm going to throw this in because i'm so blown away that this wasn't a deal breaker, when the leader of our country brags about what he can do to women because he's a "celebrity", what does that say about our society when it's just laughed at. If you think he's the only privileged man who thinks and acts that way then your head is somewhere else. Feeling as though women are there for someone else's needs is still happening in developed countries. Not only that, but women who are raped here in the US and India are blamed and still treated as if it's their fault some guy couldn't keep his hands, and other things, to himself. Why were they out after dark? What were they wearing? Where they drinking? You must have been asking for it. What is supposed to happen to these children that are born because their mom's are either guilted out of it, taught all their lives it's bad, or didn't have any safe facilities or options? Now, this woman who got pregnant for money, for drugs, because she didn't even know about birth control (yes, that's a real thing and I saw it first hand in a high school in Louisiana) who can't afford to even take care of herself is now left with another very expensive mouth to feed and she has no support from the very same people who think that abortion is murder. I hear "adoption" and yet, there are over 100,000 kids waiting for a family and from what I hear, it's not a cheap endeavor. So now, we have added another statistic to fall through the cracks of society.

My next thought is this... I'm married, but even when I wasn't, I have the option to enjoy my self just like any other person. We are living in a society where it's ok for men to have sex but it's still a shameful thing for women to do, to even want to. I would love to see the "abstinence" argument apply to the male gender as well. Cause as we all know, it takes two to tangle. Regardless of all of this, there are times when birth control just doesn't work or there is an unexpected health risk that comes up. I have insanely high blood pressure that is only controlled with medicine and I can't be pregnant like that. I can only imagine if things didn't work out right on the bc (birth control) front and I ended up pregnant and had to have it terminated. For blood pressure. You know the argument that comes next... let go, let God. God will get me through it if I trust in him and if you truly believe, then he'll get you through it safe. It's all God's will. Etcetera. That just doesn't always work and I'm not ready to leave my husband and 3 kids alone because I was trusting in belief instead of science. For those of you who do have a strong faith and who do strongly believe that God will take care, that's awesome. I'm truly happy that you have something like that in your life. But it's just not something to be forcing down another's throat or pushing your personal belief onto someone else struggling with a hard enough issue. There are those who know their babies might kill them or their babies are going to die when they leave the safety of the womb and they still go through with it with all the faith in the world and so much hope that it's incredibly inspiring, but there is a difference between sharing and proselytize.

My last thought is this... have any of you thought about the mental health aspect of all of this? How many of you have ever had to try to get mental health support? There are some women who get pregnant or after their pregnancies who get severely depressed. There are women who have kids who end up with mental illness and can't get help. There are women who know this and what are they supposed to do if something happens and they get pregnant, again birth control isn't 100% effective all the time. Have you ever tried to get help when you have a newborn and come down unexpectedly with severe postpartum psychosis? Even with a supportive spouse it's a nightmare. You try to call to get help and after 3 people tell you no, it puts you in an even worse place. No one is taking new patients. No one takes your insurance. You can't go get therapy because there isn't anywhere to take your kids for a couple hours once a week or you work full time and have kids the rest of the time, how do you find time to go to therapy once a week? Then, in the midst of dealing with this major depression, you get your first bill and realize that there is no way you can afford this. You can't afford the medicine. You can't afford to deal with the side effects. You can't afford any alternative therapy because it's no covered. You can't see this doctor due to rules in your insurance. This doctor has left. That doctor left. But it's a good thing that there are people out there fighting for unborn babies' lives. Just don't ask for any help once they get here. They aren't worth a moment's notice now. Unless you fail in your battle with depression, then you get a moment in the news and everyone says "If only I'd know." "Get help, it's out there." But no. No it's not. 

To me, your stance on abortion is very much like your stance on religion. It's really great to share and compare and discuss it, but there is no place for anyone to say it's absolutely wrong or right for any one person. It's very personal and there are many factors that are taken into consideration and I, for one, found that it probably saved my life being able to have the option available. It's not an easy choice and it's not a choice that can or even should be made by anyone else. I would never assume to tell you who to worship. I would never assume to tell you that you can't worship this way or another because "I don't believe in it and it's your immortal soul in peril". Let's make mental health options, reproduction health options, and education more of a priority and make it available before we pretentiously try to make such a decision for someone else.