It’s Monday morning, and it’s already been an interesting day. First, I woke up to some sad news. My cousin’s beautiful wife, Chris, passed away. I knew she had been sick, and last year, there were updates on Facebook about her cancer journey. As I don’t live in the United States and am not that close to most of my family members, I didn’t know that her health had declined. Her daughter posted a beautiful message… and in just a few days, that same daughter will be getting married. She wrote that her mother will have the “best” seat at the wedding. I’m sure that brings her some comfort during this sad time.
My cousin and his family are mostly conservative Christians. I’m pretty certain that they are pro-life, when it comes to the abortion debate. It always fascinates when I think about how we share family, but turn out so differently. I used to be more conservative than I am now, but I have always felt the decision to be pregnant is a personal one. I have never been pregnant, but if I ever did get pregnant, I doubt I would choose to have an abortion. But I can’t say that I never would, because I can think of a lot of reasons why someone would make that choice– reasons that are no one else’s business.
In my case, I would probably choose abortion if I got raped, or if I had some kind of medical issue that made being pregnant especially dangerous. I would also consider abortion if the developing fetus had a condition that would make being born painful or cruel. And, having worked in maternal and child health, and having briefly done work with people who weren’t ready to be parents, I can see why abortion might be a wise choice for some. But… I can also see why some people are against abortion, and why some would not consider it under any circumstances. I just think this should be a personal and private choice. Fortunately, I am now at the end of my fertile time… not quite menopausal, but Aunt Flow is visiting a lot less often these days. It’s been nice not to have her around so often.
I am relieved that Mr. Biden’s Supreme Court Justice pick, Judge Kentaji Brown Jackson, has been confirmed to the Supreme Court and will be taking Justice Stephen Breyer’s place this summer, when he retires. I know the liberals are still a minority in the Supreme Court, but at least there’s one more vote that might make protecting women’s health more likely. I believe that abortion is women’s healthcare– especially when her mental or physical health is at stake due to pregnancy.
Within the last twelve hours, I read a couple of interesting news stories about abortion in two states. Yesterday, Gocha Allen Ramirez, the district attorney in Starr County, Texas, declined to prosecute 26 year old Lizelle Herrera, a woman who had been charged with murder over a self-induced abortion. Ms. Herrera was released from jail on a $500,000 bond, having spent three days locked up after it was discovered that she had performed an abortion on herself. Although Texas has some of the most restrictive and, frankly, brutal anti-abortion laws in the country, state law is very clear that pregnant people who get abortions cannot be criminally prosecuted. Instead, abortion providers are prosecuted. Texas also passed a law last September that allows private citizens to bring lawsuits against anyone who aids someone in getting an abortion. Texas physicians are also forbidden from giving abortion-inducing medication to any pregnant person who is more than seven weeks along.
I suppose one could argue that Ms. Herrera was an “abortion provider”, having given herself an abortion. But, as a pregnant person, she also couldn’t be prosecuted. I’m sure some of the backwards, women-hating lawmakers in Texas will do what they can to fix this oversight. They’d rather put young people like Lizelle Herrera in prison for practicing self-determination, instead of helping them avoid unintended pregnancies. They’d rather waste time and money in court over denying women the right to make decisions for their own healthcare and family planning than make having and raising children more affordable and feasible. The mind boggles.
Now Maryland, on the other hand, is showing a lot more compassion and common sense regarding the abortion issue. In that state, lawmakers have just passed a new law that, from July 1, allows nurse practitioners, nurse midwives and trained physician assistants to perform abortions. It will also require most insurance providers in the state to cover the cost of an abortion, at no cost to the resident, and directs the state to invest $3.5 million a year into abortion-care training. It should be noted that Maryland’s Republican governor, Larry Hogan, vetoed this bill. However, Mr. Hogan’s veto was overruled by the House of Delegates, with a vote of 90 to 46. The State Senate voted 29 to 15 in favor of the new law.
I noticed a lot of people were reacting to this news. One woman wrote an angry comment about how this was a “vile” law. She was asked by many other people how many babies she’s adopted. Answer? None, of course. But she still thinks she should get to have an opinion about other people’s reproductive choices. Many folks, like me, think this is very good news. Others are angry about it. In the article I linked, there was this quote from Laura Bogley, the director of legislation for Maryland Right to Life, an anti-abortion organization:
“This is an example of what happens when you have a partisan monopoly in a state legislature.” She added, “The monopoly breeds extremism.”
Extremism? Has Ms. Bogley noticed Trump’s picks for the Supreme Court? Does she not see how Trump tried to stack the court with conservatives so that Roe v. Wade, which has been the law of the land since 1973, could be overturned? Does Ms. Bogley not understand that sometimes women get abortions for heartbreaking, tragic, health related reasons that should remain private and personal? It’s not always heartless, careless, “slutty” women who are seeking abortions. In fact, I would venture to guess that the vast majority who seek abortions do not fit that stereotype.
I might be more willing to support the pro-life viewpoint if we had better access to affordable birth control, healthcare, and childcare in the United States. But, the fact remains, that quality childcare remains extremely expensive and difficult to access for many people. And even if a person doesn’t have children, it’s very expensive to pay for healthcare, especially if one doesn’t have health insurance. Health insurance is also very expensive for many people. Even though former President Obama pushed through the Affordable Healthcare Act (aka Obamacare), a lot of people remain uninsured. This is a problem that is going to take some time to fix… and it’s going to require cooperation from our esteemed elected officials. Sadly, too many of them are focused on blocking and foiling each other’s efforts to get laws passed or overturned, than they are in making life easier and more humane for everyone.
Still… I am surprised that Maryland is now among 15 states that is making abortion more accessible, instead of trying to ban it. I would much rather people avoid unintended pregnancies whenever possible, but when a situation comes up that threatens a person’s health– mental or physical– I think they should have the right to determine whether or not they wish to be pregnant. And making that decision should be entirely up to the person who has to live with the physical, mental, and emotional aftermath of being pregnant.
Maybe when we’re done with our Germany stint, Bill and I should think about moving to Maryland. It sounds like they’re heading in a good direction. I’ll be glad to give up my Texas driver’s license, either way. That state has gone straight to Crazy Town.
As for my cousin and his daughters, I wish them so much peace after their tremendous loss. Chris was a wonderful woman, and I know she was much beloved by many people. I know she was a woman of great Christian faith, so I suspect she’s in Heaven with her sister-in-law, my cousin Karen, who died in 2020, and my Aunt Jeanne and Uncle Bob, who have been with the angels for awhile now. I’m sure there’s plenty of room at the table for Chris at the Heavenly party.