On matters of highly charged, emotional issues there’s little room for equivocation. Minds are made up. There is little to no chance for reconsideration. I would not choose to broach the issue were it not for several rash statements heard during the State of the Union address.
In a customary display of hyperbole, the president stated, “There could be no greater contrast to the beautiful image of a mother holding her infant child than the chilling displays our nation saw in recent days. Lawmakers in New York cheered with delight upon the passage of legislation that would allow a baby to be ripped from the mother's womb moments before birth.” Followed by the mischaracterization of comments, citing "the case of the Governor of Virginia where he basically stated he would execute a baby after birth."
What is the truth behind those statements?
There was passage of a measure in New York to modify restraints on abortion based on the physician’s judgment in the event of the absence of fetal viability or to protect the mother’s life/health.
In discussing the currently tabled Virginia legislation that would similarly lessen cumbersome restrictions, the governor additionally spoke of procedures following delivery of a non-viable, severely deformed infant with virtually no chance of survival; keeping the infant comfortable as prognosis and options were discussed with the mother.
Once and for all, no one is championing or cheering for the termination of a pregnancy. There is simply a recognition of the reality of the myriad complications that can arise with pregnancies.
Usually, maternity and childbirth are a welcome and joyful event to be celebrated, but this is not always the case. Complications surrounding pregnancy are varied. The statistics I found when searching for a more complete understanding of the facts regarding pregnancy and birth gave me a better grasp of the risks inherent in the process.
Despite some of the most advanced health care facilities and personnel, the United States experiences a higher rate of infant mortality than that of 27 developed countries. In a recent year, it was reported that 23,000 infants, about 6 per 1,000 live births, did not survive the first year.
Though actual figures are difficult to ascertain, many women experience the loss of a pregnancy due to miscarriage in the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. The causes of these early occurring miscarriages are often unknown.
After the 20th week but before delivery, the loss of a pregnancy is referred to as stillbirth. Brought about by a variety of reasons, stillbirths may be due to medical problems affecting the mother such as age, hypertension or infection. In other cases, there are problems affecting the fetus including birth defects or issues with the placenta or umbilical cord.
As in the instances of infant mortality, the maternal death rate in America is also far higher than in other developed nations affecting about 700 mothers each year.
The causes behind a naturally interrupted pregnancy, the loss of mother or infant from conception up to and through delivery are not always clear but too often are due to poor health or lack of prenatal care which is not easily accessible or too costly.
What became clear as I read through statistics and personal stories was that every pregnant woman's situation and medical condition is unique.
In a recent interview Dr. Jennifer Conti, an OB-GYN and fellow with the advocacy group Physicians for Reproductive Health addressed the case of the rare “late-term” abortion. “There are many reasons why women may need to access abortion later in pregnancy…Those exceptionally rare cases are often because a fetus has a condition that cannot be treated and will never be able to survive..”
Again in the words of Dr. Conti, “There is no way to make a one-size-fits-all determination about the appropriate care. [That] care must be compassionate and recognize that for many women, the choices they are facing are devastating and immensely complicated.”
I continue to believe these are matters best left to women and their doctors. Not used to inflame and misinform the public for political gain.
Kathie Moore, rural Hutchinson, is a freelance artist, retired from the U.S. Postal Service. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.