Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Real Late Term Abortion

One of the three doctors in the nation publicly willing to do late term abortions was murdered today, probably by a "pro-life" fanatic...murdered as he ushered at his Lutheran Church.

If nobody is pro abortion, then absolutely nobody is pro, "late term" abortions, abortions during the third trimester, abortions which happen after the legal age of viability. Most of these abortions are abortions of wanted, loved, even named babies, and they are caused by tragic circumstances. Nobody talks about them, few people defend them, fewer find a calling to provide them. When they happen they are tragedies, and the only good thing one can say about them is that because of late-term abortions, even greater tragedies are averted.

I found one woman's story of a late-term abortion here, and another story where late-term abortion was contemplated, here. I was once involved in a similar situation. It was a long time ago, soon after my own baby was born, and on the one hand, I hesitate to tell her story, but on the other, the world needs to hear these stories so that they can understand the need for this kind of medical care. I hope "C" doesn't mind...and I hope I remember all the details.

I met "C" in the pregnancy exercise program I went to, post-partum. She was still pregnant, and she discovered late in her 6th month that her baby had genetic abnormalities "incompatable with life outside the womb." The testing took a while, her shock and her husband's made decisions difficult. During those weeks every time she went out of her house people smiled at her pregnant body and sometimes even made small talk about her baby. It was...way too hard. They realized that they couldn't do this for three more months and decided to terminate the pregnancy. The baby was going to die probably during birth, certainly within a few hours. Why keep it on life support for three months...especially since 100% of the life support was being provided by my friend's swollen body.

The hospital ethics board had to be involved in this decision, since it was now in the third trimester, and that delayed things a few more days. In the end, they induced an early labor, and that worked. Technically, it wasn't an abortion, but surely they would have had to resort to that if labor had failed.

The baby did die during birth. The family had as planned, a bedside naming ceremony for her. She was held and loved by parents and grandparents until it was time to let her go.

And about 18 months later, I met their second child in the delivery room, and that was a special joy.

I have read that the doctor who was murdered today was an exceptionally gentle man who not only performed a difficult medical procedure, but who did so with compassion for parents in extremely difficult circumstances. May he rest in peace.

Justice is Never Completely Blind

There's a false idea left over from the Enlightenment which dogs our society in several ways; this week, it's in law.  That's the notion that pure rationality is possible and that, for instance, a good judge brings no bias into the courtroom and is capable of pure justice.    

So when someone digs up a statement by a Supreme Court nominee which suggests that a person with a certain kind of experiences (Hispanic, female), would be a better judge than a person with other kinds of experiences (Anglo, male) there's been a cry of racism from the right and "she didn't really mean that" from her supporters.

What really needs to be said is that of course she's right to point out that her conscious and unconscious biases and understandings that come from the life she's had will make her a better judge in some cases....AND that the understandings and biases of Anglo's, males, African Americans, younger and older judges and so on, will ALSO make them better judges in other cases, and the moral of the story is not that those observations are racist, but that they make the case for the importance of diversity on the Supreme Court.  Nobody is  purely rational.