Why I’m Drinking Tonight: Squeezed From All Sides

Well this is a little heavy for Drunken Science, but fuck it – this is what’s making me drink tonight.  I guess it’s been going on for some time, but it’s only graphs like this that bring it home:

Enacted abortion restrictions by yearHoly shit.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, in the first six months of 2011, 19 states enacted 80 restrictions on abortion.  Some of these are based on such bullshit reasons with no basis in science – the medical consensus is that the foetus is incapable of feeling pain prior to 24 weeks gestation, so laws using foetal pain as the crux of their arguments are flawed.

Ohio’s plan to ban abortion after the point at which foetal heartbeat is detected is almost as restrictive as banning abortion altogether.  I’m not an embryologist, but I know that’s a tight window: according to the Mayo Clinic, the heart may be pumping blood from the sixth week of pregnancy (the fourth week since conception).  The earliest a woman normally finds out she is pregnant is two weeks after conception (I know, some of these super early test kits can do it earlier than that).  So that’s two weeks to make a decision, get funds and find an abortion provider.  Fuck a duck, that’s not long.

It’s only marginally better the other side of the Atlantic.  It’s a little easier to summarise because this shit is all being done nationally rather than at a state or county level.  Nadine Dorries, Bedfordshire’s answer to Michelle Bachman (why are there so many anti-woman women?), is tabling amendments to restrict abortions, including the demand that women receive counselling from “independent” organisations (and you just know the UK branches of the CPC are lining up to provide that counselling), and that the RCOG (you know, the dudes I quoted on foetal pain) are removed from their position of authority on abortion guidance, because hey, all gynaecologists live for killing babies and so how could they possibly be unbiased?!

Add in to that her repeated attempts to lower the abortion limit (and don’t even get me started on her plans for abstinence-only sex education just for girls), and a survey carried out by the Department of Health saying 25% of medical students would not perform an abortion for failed contraception, and Britain is becoming a scary place to be a fertile woman.

This bothers me so much in part because I am one of the 33% of women who has had an abortion.  And I’m sorry to say my experience is likely to be less and less common if these laws are passed and if fewer doctors learn how to perform abortions.  I probably had the best possible abortion ever.  I found I was pregnant on a Friday night.  The following Monday I was able to see my doctor and be referred to a clinic.  I had an appointment and ultrasound on the Tuesday (the ultrasound was purely for them to determine gestational age, and I was never told I had to see it, although there was very little to see), and I went back the following Friday and Saturday for the two stages of the medical abortion procedure.  I had counselling – I was given as much information on continuing with the pregnancy as terminating it, and at every stage I was asked if I was still sure I wanted to go through the abortion.  My clinic was two miles from my house, and it did not cost me a penny.  I was damn lucky.

I’m most disappointed at the medical students.  I teach a lot of students who go on to study medicine, and I am so sad that 20% of them would not perform an abortion on a child who had been raped.  I had my own reasons for not wishing to continue with the pregnancy.  So does every woman who seeks an abortion.  It is a legal procedure, and sometimes a life-saving one.  Hell, the 1967 Abortion Act in the UK was brought in as a response to the sheer number of women dying from backstreet abortions.

Women are being squeezed – the access restrictions being placed on abortions put a delay on women having the procedures, by adding in extra counselling requirements, demanding ultrasounds and allowing more and more doctors to opt out of performing abortions (and you can bet an awful lot of them will not fulfill their requirement to refer women to doctors who will perform abortions).  And further restrictions lower the limit at which abortions can be performed, making the window narrower still.  Presumably the aim is that the upper and lower limits eventually meet, and women and girls are again forced to endure unwanted pregnancies against their wills.  But hell, I guess if you’re a child and you don’t want to be pregnant, then you shouldn’t go and get yourself raped.

This entry was posted in Drunken Rants, Fucking Medical Bullshit, Keep Your Hands Off My Uterus. Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Why I’m Drinking Tonight: Squeezed From All Sides

  1. Paul Huxley says:

    ‘including the demand that women receive counselling from “independent” organisations’

    Do you realise that the counselling is voluntary? So no one’s forcing women who have already made their minds up to go through counselling.

    ‘(and don’t even get me started on her plans for abstinence-only sex education just for girls)’

    Nadine hasn’t argued for this – her 10 minute rule bill would mean that there has to be an abstinence component to sex ed, not abstinence alone.

    She’s also gone on record as being in favour of quick access to early-term abortions, which I assume you’d agree with.

    • Frozen Margarita says:

      I do realise that Nadine Dorries’ public statements claim that the counselling is voluntary (and am happy to cite the source for this as you seem unable to). However, if that is what she genuinely feels then she needs to amend her own amendment because it is in the most appallingly ambiguous language. Having applied her amendment to the relevant section of the Health & Social Care Bill and then applied that amendment as directed to the National Health Service Act 2006 and then run it past a lawyer, you get something that has the effect firstly of stripping BPAS and Marie Stopes of the right to offer counselling services, since they are not considered independent, and secondly removes the aspect of choice from women and makes it voluntary for the Consortium. It is for the Consortium to decide the extent to which women may wish to use the services, not the women themselves. Dorries has therefore attempted to introduce an amendment which in fact can be used to compel counselling. If that is not her intention then I suggest she withdraw it and introduce a better worded one. As it is, if the traditionally Catholic and right-leaning Telegraph thinks this will force women into counselling, then clearly her wording needs to be changed.

      As her 10 minute rule bill seeks to introduce a girls-only sex-education lesson which must include abstinence, what are they going to learn in that girls-only lesson that they are not going to learn in joint lessons? They will learn the only new bit of new sex-education that is being introduced, i.e. abstinence. Therefore it is abstinence-only sex education. If girls are being taken away for some additional sex education, then this additional lesson must be abstinence-based.

      I’d absolutely 100% agree with quick access to early-term abortions. Now provide me with the source for that. After all, I’ve provided you with mine. And I note you say “quick”, not “easy”, which is interesting, as many of Dorries’ amendments seem designed to frustrate the “easy”, which has a knock-on effect on the “quick”.

  2. Mary SueSue says:

    Uh oh. You said the ‘a’ word. Welcome the trolls to the neighborhood!

    A friend of mine is the woman who posted an article on Salon with the title “An Abortion Saved My Life”. She’s been getting credible death threats for months (as in, they described exactly what was in her grocery cart on a specific date) and the cops have decided their best way of protecting her is by saying, “Well, maybe you should move. Preferably out of state.”

    • Frozen Margarita says:

      I’ve read that article. Fortunately in my part of the world, we’re not quite at the stage of death threats. It’s a shame that your friend has been told that by the police – that is not what justice should be about.

    • Abortion also saved Rick Santorum’s wife’s life… Strange how that hasn’t changed his opinion: http://early-onset-of-night.tumblr.com/post/6502308112/our-abortion-was-different-when-the-anti-choice

      My wife had an abortion at 19 with a man she had been with for awhile and was engaged. He was a total loser apparently and they broke up after 5 years. Her, my and our 2 kids lives would be completely changed for the worse if she had stuck with it. Abortion didn’t physically save her life, but it allowed her to seek a better, happier, more fulfilling life for herself resulting in her emigration to the US, our fantastic relationship, and 2 gorgeous children. Who could tell what her life would have been like otherwise

  3. Katie Pratt says:

    Fantastic post! Re: Mary SueSue’s comment…why is the termination of an embryo the size of a fingernail that can feel absolutely nothing heinous, but terrorizing and potentially harming a fully developed human is totally acceptable? I have never understood how extreme activists justify this kind of behavior. Ditto with the threats faced by researchers who work with animals. Absolutely bananas.

  4. Christopher says:

    Interesting blog, just found it…anyway, what really pisses me off (other than the comment by the cops in an earlier comment) is the complete irrationality of this topic. A few weeks ago, my closest, dearest friends learned their baby/fetus/embryo was not going to survive due to severe birth defects, so they made the heartbreaking decision to terminate. Under most of these morality police laws, they would have had to carry the baby to term, or at least until it finally died inutero and then be forced to deal with giving “birth” to a half-formed, dead baby. Disgusting. I cannot begin to imagine the trauma.
    I don’t like abortion. I don’t know anyone who says “yay, i’ll just get pregnant (or get someone pregnant) and just abort it for fun and laughs hahaha” but this is how we get portrayed by the right. Meanwhile, they prance around pretending to “care” about “life”. If they did care, then why do they want to limit access to birth control? Better access means fewer abortions, which is what they claim to want, right? and taking a pill is far less painful than an abortion at any stage, right? seems like a win-win. of course, they would disagree, but then why is it that they want to protect the unborn, but then cut them off from welfare and social support as soon as they’re born, and are all too willing to send them off to war when they’re 18? oh, it’s cause they’re rat bastards (no offense to rats)

  5. Victor says:

    No one will ever know what is wrong or what is right on the subject. If you go with what you really believe, and not just what is really convenient for “you”, then no one can say your wrong.

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