#AlabamaLege: Y'all Are Not My Deciders
I'm pro-choice for many reasons and though I could fill a book about being cheerfully childfree, I had to pick one reason to write about for this post. Thus, I wanted to pick one issue that would perhaps open up the tiniest sliver of doubt in the minds of those who still cling to the notion that a fetus is somehow more important than its host. Not that any of those types would be wandering around this blog, but adding my story it to the chorus felt right. (Side note: I appreciate His Rudeness for featuring all these pro-choice voices. This blog is my new happy place.)
So here's my story: I have a rare, undiagnosed condition that causes some of my bones and tissues to grow oddly and unpredictably throughout my life. Since I have no formal diagnosis, I worry about the health implications an unplanned pregnancy would mean for me. Not only have multiple specialists advised me that pregnancy itself is risky for my body to take on, but I also worry because I am certain I don't want to bring a child into the world with the same condition I have. Since it's an unknown syndrome, testing would likely be inconclusive (especially before 20 weeks), but geneticists believe it could be passed on. Thus, the decision to procreate should rest with me alone – the dreaded gene carrier, potential fetal hostel, and possible special-needs parent. Only I know what it means to live with this condition over a lifetime and only I can judge if it’s fair to deliberately deal this hand to a new person. Only I know if I am physically and mentally ready to withstand the toll of pregnancy and if I'm ready to parent a child, potentially born with severe medical challenges. By outlawing abortions after 20 weeks, states have removed options and merciful choices when fetal anomalies are discovered, or have at a minimum made those options significantly more arduous to exercise for women and couples. Furthermore, women seeking abortion are stonewalled with waiting periods, permission slips, invasive and unnecessary procedures, and to add insult to injury, often the advice they’re given is tainted by medical professionals fearing for their licenses, all while the she is fearing for her very life.
Throughout my childhood my mother worked hard at a job she hated so that we had excellent health insurance. No procedure, specialist, or distance was too extreme to get the best care for me. Now, however, as a grown, employed, tax-paying person with good benefits, my insurance coverage pales in comparison to what my mom provided me. (For example, on her insurance a prescription I frequently need is $10; on mine, it's $105 for the same two-week supply.) If I had a child with similar early-life complications I shudder to think... the extensive testing, specialist care, corrective and reconstructive surgeries, rehabilitation, medical devices... I simply couldn't afford it. Then, there’s the burden of having available work leave, affording travel, and securing qualified childcare. And that’s assuming my own condition wasn't worsened after a pregnancy and delivery. To force pregnancy and birth on women is torture. It's inhumane. It's incompatible with the ideas of privacy, autonomy, and bodily sovereignty. It robs us of self-determination.
At some point, a choice is made. Right now, legislators want to play judge and jury and determine each and every case that is “worthy” of a golden ticket to the clinic. This is ridiculous! We have over 300 million citizens and I'm just one person with a funky medical condition. I want to live my best life and for me and my partner, that means a childfree life. I reject the idea that sex is only for procreation. I refuse to beg my doctor to administer a couple of pills, forced to cite a laundry list of defenses for my choice. I resent being told by multiple pharmacists that they won't fill my scrip because of their “morality,” even though they chose to enter the ever-altruistic industry of Big Pharma. And I certainly don't deserve to be shamed and intimidated by "Sidewalk Angels" (gag) decrying me as a murderer when I visit a clinic for my basic healthcare needs.
Alabama’s state motto is: Audemus jura nostra defendere, Latin for, “We Dare Defend Our Rights.” I have a right to bodily autonomy and self-determination and our out-of-touch legislators can’t dissuade me from that charge.
I tweet about reproductive rights @SthrnFriedFemst.