It's been a while since I've gone on an old-fashioned political rant here. I've mostly transitioned from idealistic-and-mouthy-college-student to mommy-who-takes-lots-of-pictures; however, this topic, fittingly, touches on both. I'm a little rusty on the bloggity ranting, but let's see if I can get this one out.
So. Background. In Alabama, as in many states as of late, a flurry of bills seeking to limit access to abortion or to outlaw it entirely have recently been introduced. I am Pro Life AND Pro Choice, and so am fundamentally opposed to all these bills. The reasons for my opposition are many and are best explained in a different post, because what I'm talking about here today is the bill that I feel most strongly about: SB12/HB418.
This bill, known as the "Right to See and Know Act" is one of the forced-ultrasound bills that have recently become so popular among the Republican legislators of this country. In its current form, the bill requires that:
(b) Prior to a woman giving informed consent to having any part of an abortion performed or induced, and prior to the administration of any anesthesia or medication in preparation for the abortion on the woman, the physician who is to perform the abortion or a qualified technician shall:
(1) Perform an obstetric ultrasound on the pregnant woman, using either a vaginal transducer or an abdominal transducer, whichever would display the embryo or fetus more clearly.
(2) Provide a simultaneous verbal explanation of what the ultrasound is depicting, which shall include the presence and location of the unborn child within the uterus and the number of unborn children depicted. If the ultrasound image indicates that fetal demise has occurred, a woman shall be informed of that fact.
(3) Display the ultrasound images so that the pregnant woman may view them.
(4) Provide a medical description of the ultrasound images, which shall include the dimensions of the embryo or fetus and the presence of external members and internal organs, if present and viewable.
Now I, of course, am thrilled that the current bill has recently been amended to include a little less rape by offering the option of an abdominal ultrasound. But the part that has my full attention is this section right here:
(1) ABORTION. The intentional use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or devise [sic] or method to terminate the life of an unborn child, to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with an intention other than to produce a live birth and preserve the life and health of the child after live birth, to remove an ectopic pregnancy, or to remove a dead unborn child who died as the result of natural causes, accidental trauma, or a criminal assault on the pregnant woman or her unborn child.
Let's clarify here. The "Right to See and Know Act" would require that a woman undergoing a D&C for the removal of her miscarried baby be forced to pay for a medically unnecessary ultrasound AND have her dead baby described to her. In detail.
I miscarried my second child, a daughter I call AnnaBelle, in June of 2009 at around 11 weeks. I miscarried my third child, a boy I call Aaron, in February of 2010 at 13 weeks. Both times I needed a D&C.
When I think back on my miscarriages, the one completely vivid memory I have of both is the moment the doctor turned away from the ultrasound screen to confirm what I already knew from the images. Time seemed to slow and freeze and it was as if everything was suspended in free fall, like I could almost see the words leaving his mouth and making their way across the room to drill their way into my brain, the ringing in my ears almost drowning out his murmur. "I'm so sorry."
I needed compassion. I needed to decide if I wanted to risk waiting on the baby's remains to come out naturally or have a D&C. I needed my husband to hold me. I needed my living child in my arms. The last thing I needed then was for my doctor to say, "...but now I have to tell you about your dead baby. See, here is her head and her nose. Here are his arms and his legs. Here is the heart that is no longer beating..."
This bill would force my doctor to do exactly that. That, or make a woman have another ultrasound a few days later. "Look, here is your baby. It is still dead. Here is its head..."
If you don't have a problem with that, then I'm pretty sure we can't ever be friends.
I am completely sickened by this bill. With most anti-choice legislation, I may oppose it and disagree completely with everything about it, but I can at least see where the other side is coming from. But this? This is unnecessary, unspeakable cruelty. It is nothing less than state-required torture and abuse of grieving mothers. It is horrific that anyone ever wrote it. It is horrific that anyone ever SPONSORED it. There is no justification, NONE, for such a thing.
On March 18, there was a rally in downtown Huntsville opposed SB12, among other bills. And so I called up my sister, packed up my baby girl, and we drove to Big Spring Park to stand with a hundred and fifty other people of different backgrounds, professions, ages, colors, and religions to say NO. NOT ME, NOT MY WIFE, NOT MY MOTHER, NOT MY DAUGHTER. YOU WILL NOT DO THIS THING.
Will it help? Probably not as much as letters and phone calls to my representatives.