Women’s health at stake

In regard to “Abortion wrong choice” (Oct. 21 issue of The Spectator), and as co-president of College Feminists, it is imperative that I articulate pro-choice affirmations.

It is critically important to remember that pro-choice does not mean pro-abortion. Abortion is a choice no woman makes easily; it is an incredible decision a woman struggles with before and after the procedure. I hardly believe any woman would ever advocate an abortion in lieu of other options. That is why the right to choice is vital.

Clearly, this is a women’s rights issue if it is a fetus’ rights issue. The discrepancy occurs when we wish to set the rights of the fetus as having precedence over those of the woman. If we are to force a law granting these fetus’ rights as equal or superior to those of a woman, it would be arrogant and absurd. It only serves to diminish women. Women – who are feeling, thinking and conscious beings – also have friends, family, occupations and a life in which it is not always accommodating to have a child enter. When arguing about abortion, it seems that women’s lives disappear when the focus is on the fetus.

It must also be stated that if the right to abortion is lost, many women’s lives would be egregiously affected. As mentioned in last week’s article, “A mere 39 women died from illegal abortions in 1972.” I wonder how many more human beings need to die before this issue becomes relevant to women’s health.

One must also realize these are only the deaths we are talking about, not the thousands of women who are maimed because of illegal abortion, rushed to the emergency room after illegal abortions or are left infertile as a post-abortion consequence. The deaths of 39 women and the consequences of illegal abortions should never, ever be minimized.

There are instances when an abortion is needed and becomes necessary. Take an ectopic pregnancy, for example. OB/GYN physician Don Sloan states that during an ectopic pregnancy “the embryo attaches itself outside of the uterus, causing internal damage, bleeding, even the woman’s death.” An abortion through microsurgery can save the specific fallopian tube and, in turn, save the woman’s reproductive system or possibly her life.

Another example of when abortion becomes significant is in the situation of pregnancy resulting from rape. We need to think critically about the power dynamics between men and women involved in rape: a man rapes a woman, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy – a constant reminder of the malicious assault. Taking the choice of abortion away from a woman furthers the revictimization of the lack of power over her own body. The right to abortion is unbelievably crucial to the physical and mental health of a rape survivor.

Furthermore, legal abortion allows many more life chances for women, which have been fought for through many long struggles of the women’s rights movement. With choice denied, women become further socially subordinated and a regression in gender equality occurs.

For example, the life opportunities for a single mother are significantly decreased as a result of a denied choice, not to mention the social stigmatization of single motherhood.

Because there are certain situations, as I mentioned above, abortion-preventive organizations need to be supported. One preventive organization, whose name has been slandered on campus, is Planned Parenthood. It is about options, not abortions. By offering information regarding adoption, contraceptives (the first on their list being abstinence), birth control and abortion counseling, Planned Parenthood has stopped more abortions than any protester ever has. We have a Planned Parenthood organization in Eau Claire that offers its help to those in need at a significantly lower cost than many other available medical services.

In addition, abortion is a safe and routine medical procedure. I do not think abortion is as grotesque or hideous as some might assert. I imagine any medical procedure involving internal organs, such as open-heart surgery, may be considered grotesque.

In order to clarify what happens in an abortion, here is what happens in a vacuum aspiration abortion. In the first trimester, usually six to 13 weeks, vacuum aspiration is the procedure used to empty the uterus. The traditional first trimester abortion involves three main steps: 1) an injection to numb the cervix; 2) insertion of a soft, flexible tube (no bigger than the diameter of a pencil) through the cervix into the uterus; 3) suction created by an aspirating machine to remove the uterine contents. It takes less than five minutes to complete and is a very routine procedure.

I have seen this done. It is hardly grotesque.

I urge everyone who has read these editorials concerning abortion in the past few weeks and are interested in the topic of reproductive rights to seek out information for themselves. The Web site of the Feminist Majority Foundation, www.feminist.org and www.plannedparenthood.org are good starting places.

Feel free to contact me or the College Feminists for more resources or if you have any questions.

An editorial can only cultivate your intrigue; it is up to you to decide your convictions.