Catching the evening news was not my priority.
Catching a few extra winks were the thoughts that occupied my brain!
Afterall, our son was a mere three-and-a-half months old.
I was a jittery, weary, sleep-deprived, first-time mom – uncertain about everything – seeking a magic gimmick for getting the babe to sleep more than minutes at a time. Was through the night too much to hope for? Apparently!
Yes, his dad helped where he could, but there was no such thing as paternity leave, then. So, Dad needed some sleep in order to function at work.
Yet, we did catch the news the evening of January 22, 1973.
“Today, the Supreme Court issued a 7–2 decision ruling that the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S Constitution provides a ‘right to privacy’ that protects a pregnant woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion.”
“That’s a relief,” I thought. That was the extent of my response and I turned my attention to our wailing baby.
Actually, the whole abortion issue seemed remote to me. That would change. In 1974, I became pregnant, again. We celebrated. Our son was going to be blessed with a sibling. Both my spouse and I are only children and had vowed not to inflict the loneliness of “only-hood” on our son.
Sadly, after seven months of discomfort, my body – of its own volition – aborted the fetus. What pain! That was far worse than childbirth.
The semblance of the baby was severely deformed. (Even its genitals were not developed.) It seems harsh to say, but fortunately, it was dead on arrival.
For me, it was a relief! I knew, deep in my bones, that I had neither the physical stamina, nor the emotional fortitude to care for a child with such extensive needs. I simply could not have handled it and wasn’t about to ask my spouse to.
Caring for and raising our son became our focus. (He did finally sleep through the night – at 5 months.)
We vowed to try again after we consulted with a genetic specialist at Johns Hopkins, Baltimore.
The specialist’s words were reassuring. The anomaly – in all likelihood – had not been genetic. Possibly my losing tangle with an angry nest of yellowjackets, in the very early stage of pregnancy accounted for the deformities.
Still, I was reassured to realize that – on the very remote chance – our genes were actually the issue, we had the option to evaluate and – we fervently hoped it was not needed – but abortion was available.
All went wonderfully with my third pregnancy. OK, except I got huge. I mean, my profile competed with Afred Hitchock’s. People stared! I didn’t mind, even a little bit! This pregnancy was delightful; a stark contrast to the second pregnancy’s continuous pain and unrelenting nausea.
Remember, this was the early 1970s and well before in-utero baby pictures. I correctly suspected that I was having two little twerps.
The doctor, who served as my obstetrician, and I kidded each other. He predicted “one large boy.” My retort, “Nope! It’s two tiny girls.” I was certain. Turns out, I was right! Hooh-rah!
Had the option of abortion not been available in 1976, we would never have attempted another pregnancy.
Personally, I could not have faced the chance of a rerun of the catastrophe of my second pregnancy. Even the exceedingly slim chance of a re-run lingered in the back of my mind for the first two months.
However, assume, for a moment, that the problem had been our genes and the worst had happened and the fetus was malformed, but that my body had retained it.
Further assume that Texas’s current law had been on the books. Then any ole Tom, Dick or Harriet – any vigilante – could have prevented or – after the fact – punished my access to an abortion.
We, as the expectant parents, could have been trapped.
You do see the dilemma we would have confronted – and on an issue that belongs in a medical category.
From my perspective, colored, of course, by my own experience, a woman’s reproductive rights belong to the woman, her significant other, and her gynecologist. It should all be private, protected by HIPAA. After all, it is a woman’s reproductive health issue.
However, now, the Lone-Star State has legislation that bans abortion after 6 weeks! Seriously!
Most women, whom I have known, have no idea that they might be pregnant at 6 weeks. I actually do – or feel like I knew about 3-weeks into my pregnancies.
I suspect there are more women who actually have an inkling very early on, but don’t recognize it.
Women tend to have an extra sense when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth.
Incubating and sustaining a life-form in your body is a unique experience. It seems logical that the domain of pregnancy should belong to the women.
However, some Texans apparently feel that women’s uteri are their jurisdiction. I suppose they feel they have a right to monitor women’s menstrual cycles. That’s a bizarrely hideous thought! Do these Texas legislators realize all the implications of their law? I am certain they realize that this law, for all intents and purposes, eliminates abortion.
The legislators were cagey. They turned the enforcement of the law over to the general public, cutting officials out of the picture.
“Instead of requiring public officials to enforce the law, this law allows individuals to bring civil lawsuits against abortion providers or anyone else found to “aid or abet” illegal abortions.” -NPR, Sept. 1.
Yikes. Isn’t that the definition of a vigilante group? Aren’t vigilantes just members of the general public who have decided to take the law into their own hands? And, are there any restraints on them? Perhaps I have watched too many Westerns!
Wait! It gets worse. There are monetary rewards!
You’re kidding me! Now, Texas has created a new category of bounty hunters! Anti-abortion bounty hunters?
“Anyone who successfully sues an abortion provider under this law could be awarded at least $10,000. And to prepare for that, Texas Right to Life has set up what it calls a ‘whistleblower’ website where people can submit anonymous tips about anyone they believe to be violating the law.” -NPR, Sept. 1.
Oh terrific! Let’s make sure this can all be done anonymously!
Will there be a way to check the validity of the accusations?
No, no! That entire wacko thought takes me down a dark, deep, frightening rabbit hole!
Oh, but wait!
Apparently, “’These lawsuits are not against the women,’ says John Seago with Texas Right to Life. ‘The lawsuits would be against the individuals making money off of the abortion, the abortion industry itself. So this is not spy on your neighbor and see if they’re having an abortion.’” -NPR, Sept. 1.
Can we guarantee that the vigilantes will not go after ordinary folks – like a spouse, or parent, or grandmother who might assist a wife, daughter, or granddaughter who might be in need? Can’t guarantee that won’t happen, can we?
Currently, “In Texas, lawmakers are now moving to pass a bill that could also restrict “medication abortions” – using pills – which are still currently legal up to 10 weeks into pregnancy. The Texas Tribune reported that a bill limiting access after seven weeks is close to passing, despite Democrats’ attempts to prevent it.” -CNN, Sept. 3.
Distressingly, our U.S. Supreme Court, on a 5-4 vote, allowed the aberrant Texas law to take effect.
It appears that Texas has created an in-house Gestapo that wields unregulated, unrestrained power.
My spouse maintains that “The Texas legislators may have stepped beyond what concerned citizens can accept.” -S. Nevada, Sept. 5.