Monday, October 13, 2008


Warning: sensitive subject ahead...

I usually try to stay out of political or personal choice debates. I feel like nobody wins, and people just wind up getting angry. But this is something I want to share.

When I was in college, I was staunchly pro-choice. I was one of those "I'd-never-do-it-but-I-support-other-womens'-rights-to" kind of people. Then something changed. I had always had the idea that abortion was rare. I have no idea why, maybe because I wanted it to be? But here's the truth:

There are roughly 4 million births in the US every year.
There are slightly over 1 million abortions in the US every year.

Do the math. That's TWENTY percent! A full fifth missing from the generation being born. This completely changed my views on abortion. Yes, I still am one of those women who would like termination to be available in certain circumstances, mainly when carrying the baby threatens the life of the mother. Don't ask me about pregnancies resulting from rape, or those with a poor prenatal diagnosis. Those situations are so intensely heartbreaking I wouldn't know where to begin. And this from someone who's been there.

You know how many Down syndrome pregnancies are terminated? A recent study found 92%!! Disability advocates are worried that people with Down syndrome will become completely shunned by society, research, and insurance companies. Some ethicists are calling this modern-day eugenics.

This is why national healthcare scares me. You think we have it bad with the insurance companies telling us what they will and won't cover? At least we have the courts to fall back on and appeal. What would it be like if the government or government-appointed administrators decided what conditions got treatment? The truth is there are only so many healthcare dollars to go around. Decisions have to be made. National healthcare does not mean everyone gets treatment for every condition. Certain European countries with national healthcare have a cutoff for premature babies. If they are younger than 25 weeks, they are not saved. Period. Owen has cost over 300,000 dollars so far. And he still has 2 more open heart surgeries ahead. I'm sure the cost of his care will approach half a million dollars by his 5th birthday. It's easy to imagine a world in which the administrators of a national healthcare system would look at that amount of money and decide it would be better spent elsewhere. Especially because Owen also has a chromosome abnormality and likely has mental disabilities that will require him to have care and supervision his whole life. They would see him as never being a "productive" member of society.

Anyone ever read the book "The Giver?" That's where I'm scared we're heading.

Learning these numbers and facts changed me. I just needed to share.

As an aside, this is another point of contention for me. It really bothers me that the pro-choice movement has started referring to the pro-life movement as anti-choice. Believe me, I am pro-life and all for choice. People can certainly make the choice not to have irresponsible sex, and put oneself in a position where one needs an abortion. Or the choice to give a child up for adoption. Why does "choice" *have* to include abortion?

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