You probably can’t tell from my blog posts, but I love words. I love the sound of them, the feel of them in my mouth and at my fingertips. How changing just one word can transform a sentence from shit to shinola.
So I love it when somebody proves me right-ish. Or like I’m in the right pew.
For decades one term has bothered me. “Pro-Choice.”
Abortion ain’t a “whole wheat or rye” sort of “choice.”
So I’ve had my thinking cap on for all that time, trying to think of a better way to say it. What else could it be called? What word can express the magnitude of that decision for any woman.
And am I the person to come up with it anyway? You see, I never had an abortion. I never was able to get pregnant. So perhaps it isn’t my role.
But I do know women who’ve had abortions. I’ve sat with them, talked with them, consoled them. They have been friends and near-strangers who somehow tell me their deepest trouble. They are not women who are making a “choice.” Rather they are women slicing a piece of their own heart out, most often because they have no “choice.”
That includes two women who were forced to have late-term terminations. You know, the kind that is being outlawed in state after state, mostly by men, with no exceptions for rape, incest, the life of the mother. No basis in the real world of what women face.
These two women had nearly identical stories. Their prenatal testing showed that their fetuses had trisomy 18 (From WebMD):
A “trisomy” means that the baby has an extra chromosome in some or all of the body’s cells. In the case of trisomy 18, the baby has three copies of chromosome 18. This causes many of the baby’s organs to develop in an abnormal way.
There are three types of trisomy 18:
Full trisomy 18. The extra chromosome is in every cell in the baby’s body. This is by far the most common type of trisomy 18.
Partial trisomy 18.The child has only part of an extra chromosome 18. That extra part may be attached to another chromosome in the egg or sperm (called a translocation). This type of trisomy 18 is very rare.
Mosaic trisomy 18. The extra chromosome 18 is only in some of the baby’s cells. This form of trisomy 18 is also rare.
What Is the Outlook for Babies With Trisomy 18?
Because trisomy 18 causes such serious physical defects, many babies with the condition don’t survive to birth. About half of babies who are carried full-term are stillborn. Boys with trisomy 18 are more likely to be stillborn than girls.
Of those babies who do survive, less than 10% live to reach their first birthday. Children who do live past that milestone often have severe health problems that require a large amount of care. Only a very small number of people with this condition live into their 20s or 30s.
Both women were happily married. They and their husbands wanted their babies; they were devastated by the news. These women had to choose when, not if the baby they wanted so much would die. One of them said that because their fetus had a condition called Intra-uterine growth restriction, the baby would essentially starve to death inside of her. And then she’d go through labor.
See what I mean about “choice”? It’s way more like being between a rock and a hard place. Or just being in a hard place.
In all my years, and with the numerous women I’ve known who’ve terminated a pregnancy, there was only one who did it casually. She’s a staunch Republican.
So I was delighted when I read about Sister Joan Chittister recently. Because she’s the one who made me realize it’s not us, it’s them.
We’re not necessarily the ones with the wrong term. They are. Because they are DECIDEDLY NOT PRO-LIFE:
I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there.
That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.