Sen. Kim LaSata has had her share of front-page news lately, most recently in response to her Michigan Senate testimony regarding late-term abortion, including her own painful experience of a failed therapeutic abortion for a fetus with serious medical issues, then, in her words, “letting God” take over.
Her testimony was aimed at supporting a bill to place further limitations on the right to late-term abortion in our state. While I fully relate to the agony she endured in ultimately giving birth to a lifeless baby and agree that oftentimes we need to let go of attempting to control outcomes, I question the idea that taking a damaged fetus to term is always within the will of God or best medical practice. I do respect that Sen. LaSata honored her own experience in her testimony. I am less likely to respect a group of governing males who decide they know what is best for a pregnant woman facing a dilemma for which she sees no life-giving solution.
If men were to undergo nine months of pregnancy followed by labor, they would be less prone to take control of women’s health issues around childbirth. Too bad there isn’t a virtual reality activity depicting the “no-painless-way-out-of-this” element of pregnancy (ultimately worth it to a large majority of fortunate women, myself included).
The movement toward limiting all abortions is in full swing in several state legislatures, ours included, trusting the Supreme Court as it is now composed will rescind the precedent of Roe vs. Wade that gave women the right to control their own reproductive functions with some limitations. The medical providers and women targeted are being portrayed as ignorant, self-centered, inhuman criminals to be punished for their decisions.
Punishment of a woman who is already feeling punished by having been forced to conceive a child she cannot support physically, mentally and emotionally or one whose health is seriously jeopardized is criminal in itself. To think that a woman and her medical advocates would choose any procedure less than the best available to terminate a pregnancy is ludicrous.
When it comes to rape and incest, girls and women live in silent shame at having been violated, some paying the price of finding themselves pregnant with no place to turn. However, many unwanted pregnancies are not the result of an assault. One statistic heard in recent news coverage stated that 70 percent of women seeking abortion are married. We all know families surprised by unexpected pregnancies, some of them with happy endings, some with extreme sacrifices having to be made for the addition, some with sad outcomes in the long haul.
The whole point for leaving the decision to a woman and her physician is because no outsider can possibly know what is needed. We are now in a situation where “big brother” thinks he knows best and it’s pretty scary. Politics must have no role in dictating medical practice. I have yet to discover an analogy where men’s bodies would be governed similarly by the state. Perhaps castration should be the punishment for rape and non-payment of child support.
While I agree that life begins at conception, we realize that an embryo is developing toward becoming a fetus, which is developing toward a full-term infant, who then develops into a more thinking, feeling and hopefully well-nurtured child. A pregnancy that must be terminated needs to be done as soon as possible, but real problems do come to light later than six weeks and beyond. There is not a one-size-fits-all solution to problem pregnancies and certainly there should be no law forcing a girl or woman to take a child to term. Better to put more effort into caring for the many at-risk children carelessly brought into the world as well as their more fortunate counterparts, finding ways to be sure they are fed, housed, educated and cared for without fear of being abused at home or shot at school or in the neighborhood.
We have yet to see our legislators take seriously even the most minimal approach to curbing gun violence. Is it just so much easier to blame and punish women and their physicians seeking to do what is best for them than to look at the whole picture of endangered children?
Melinda Stibal lives in Coloma. Her email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.