Friday, January 22, 2010

Trust Me

Today, I turn 37. I have been able to drive for 21 years. I have been able to vote for 19. I have earned a bachelor’s degree and a law degree, both from one of the top universities in the country. I have spent the last 10 years as a married woman. I own a house, a car, and a cat.

So my question is this: When exactly will I have proven myself responsible enough to decide what is best for my body, my mind, and my family?

In Florida, a woman still legally able to obtain an abortion was effectively kidnapped by the state and her doctor and forced into hospitalized bedrest to prevent a miscarriage, despite the fact that she would lose her job and she was the only person available to care for her two (already born) toddlers. She ended up on the receiving end of a C-section to remove the dead fetus.

There are areas of this country where the only healthcare available is at a Catholic hospital. Female patients of these hospitals are often unable to obtain any sort of prescription contraception. The Catholic Church continues to fight states’ efforts to require their hospitals to dispense emergency contraception TO RAPE VICTIMS at the patient’s request.The views of the Catholic Church on abortion and contraception were given weight by Congress during the recent debate on the proposed health care reform bills, despite the supposed separation of Church and State in this country.

Pregnant women who don’t want to have their labor induced have to fight tooth and nail a medical industry that seems more interested in the convenience of the doctor than the safety and ease of the woman’s delivery. The same goes for women who want to give birth to a child vaginally after a C-section. And chances are good that the first C-section was unnecessary to begin with.

I have taken birth control pills for almost 20 years. I have known for the last five or so that I do not want to carry and give birth to children. I have not spoken to my doctor about the possibility of tubal ligation, because the standard answer for women under the age of 35 is that they may change their mind and regret it. I have a strong suspicion that what that actually means is “you may change your mind and sue me.” I wonder if I'm old enough at 37 to know my own mind.

My President has consistently gone on record saying that he thinks that whether I continue a pregnancy is a decision for me, my doctor, my family, and my minister. What if my “family” (does anyone think this means anything other than “husband”? Does the President think I’m going to go ask my brother if he thinks I should get an abortion?) is abusive and got me pregnant so I would be tied to him? What if I don’t have a minister? What if my doctor is at a Catholic hospital? When do I get to make that decision for myself, based on what’s best for me?

I am 37 years old. I have fought for reproduction rights my entire adult life. I believe that women, given the information they need, will make the right choices for themselves and their families. And if they don’t, it is not the government’s or their doctor’s, or their church’s or anyone else’s church’s job to protect them from regret.

Please. Trust Us.

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