by Risa Green
If you are a woman who lives in the state of Oklahoma, then I send my condolences. I am deeply sorry for your loss. It’s not an easy thing, to have something so important taken away from you so suddenly, and without warning. I hope you can find some comfort in your memories. I hope you at least had an opportunity to say goodbye.
In case you’re not up to date on the news lately, my sympathy note has nothing to do with anyone who died. Rather, I send my condolences to those who are mourning the loss of their Constitutional rights. Because in Oklahoma last week, the state senate passed a bill that, in my opinion, completely took them away. First, it requires any woman who is considering an abortion to undergo an ultrasound, during which the ultrasound technician is required to make you look at the screen, as well as to point out to you all of the characteristics of the fetus. So imagine that you’re a twenty-five year old woman who has decided, for whatever reason, to have an abortion. Maybe you’re too poor to care for a baby. Maybe you’re addicted to drugs. Maybe you’ve been raped. Maybe you’ve been raped by your father. Doesn’t matter. You’re going to have to be put through a forced ultrasound, because, you know, you’re just a stupid woman, and you clearly aren’t capable of understanding your choice without the use of visual aids.
But that’s not even the bad part. No, the bad part – the unconscionable part – is the second part of the bill, which allows your doctor to withhold information about your baby if your doctor thinks that the information might cause you to seek an abortion. And you can’t sue him for it. Let me just repeat that. Your doctor, who you pay, can withhold information about your baby, if he or she thinks that the information might cause you to seek an abortion. I think we all just need to pause for a minute and let that sink in. [Pause.]
Okay. So, let’s do the imagining thing again, except this time, you’re not a twenty-five year-old living below the poverty line/drug addict/rape or incest victim. No, this time, you’re you, and you’re pregnant, and you’re excited about being pregnant. So you go in for your routine ultrasound, or amnio, and your doctor discovers that your baby has some rare genetic disease that will cause it to suffer horribly for five or ten years, until it then dies. Or, that your baby has severe birth defects, or severe mental retardation. And let’s suppose that your doctor, who is pro-life, thinks that if you knew this information, you might – MIGHT – seek an abortion. Or, you might not. But either way, your doctor is perfectly within his rights to not tell you this information about your own baby, and keep it all a big secret until – surprise! – you deliver and nah-nah-nah-nah-nah, you ca-an’t sue me. All because, you know, us women are just too damn unpredictable when it comes to deciding what’s right for own families.
Now, if this doesn’t appall you, then you should just stop reading right now, because clearly, you are not going to agree with anything I have to say from here on out. But if you find this absolutely outrageous, well, welcome to the club, sister, and watch your back, because your state could be next. For the record, let me say that in no way am I suggesting that all babies with genetic defects or severe mental or physical disabilities be aborted. Far from it. There are obviously many people with such conditions who live wonderful, productive lives, and there are many parents who feel blessed to be able to care for such children. But what I am saying, and what is the law in our country, is that women are entitled to choose whether or not to have such a baby, or any baby, for that matter, and when that kind of information is withheld, a woman is prevented from being able to make a fully informed choice, as is her right.
I’m looking forward to the Supreme Court challenge that Oklahoma is almost certainly going to face. I just hope that President Obama chooses our next Supreme Court Justice wisely; if he doesn’t, we might all find ourselves dressing in black.