I know I’ve lost a few readers because of my outspokenness about abortion, and I’m sure that there are many others who would rather I just focus on cheerier topics like infertility and pregnancy envy, but I just can’t. Not right now. Not when my representatives are taking this away from me.
Let me just state for the record that I love babies. But, especially when I was younger, I did not want an unplanned pregnancy. I used Planned Parenthood when I was in college and for the first year or two when I was a teacher. Thank you Planned Parenthood for helping me be a responsible adult. I honestly don’t know what my choice would have been had I gotten pregnant in college, but I always made sure that THAT was a choice that I didn’t have to make. I was always on birth control.
I was pro-choice in theory only.
I remember when I was in high school, there was a girl (daughter of a preacher) who was horrified in history class when we read about the number of Jews that were turned away by Christians when they were seeking shelter from the Nazis. She was so angry that she she announced that if SHE lived back then, SHE would take those poor people in.
And I was angry too, but for the same reasons she was.
How could she have possibly know what she would do in the situation? What if she had a baby she was trying to protect? What if she couldn’t afford to take on an entire family on her income? What if, what if, what?
The thing is, you don’t know. And how dare you try to moralize hypothetical situations.
This was all supposed to be an introduction to share what happened to my yesterday when I went to Austin to testify before the Senate about SB1.
My husband felt a great amount of guilt for not being there, but he only has one sick day day, and I’d rather he save that either for a future IUI or doctor’s office visit.
So, two of my friends came with me. I felt silly for asking J. She’s politically active, but this isn’t her focus or priority. I know she’s pro-choice, but coming with me to testify is a sacrifice- wearing orange for a day is one thing, but actually getting up out of bed at 3:00 when you have been traveling and working all week is quite another.
She got another friend involved, and grudgingly got out of the bed with only an hour of sleep (I did mention that I have AWESOME friends in a previous post) and I drive like a bat out of hell to Austin – I heard that anti-choice people were getting there at 6, so I wanted to be there ASAP.
We got there around 6:45. And there were people on both sides, orange and blue shirts. I really didn’t like the color division – it made me a target for people. They judged me before they even talked to me. I was uncomfortable around people wearing blue. It gave the whole place an US versus THEM feel. Right away, and weird old man in line ahead of us immediately turned to me and welcome me to the Pro-Life line. I ignored as best I could, keep my head down to my phone. But he just kept after me. So, I engaged. I stared off really well. “I’m refusing to engage with you in conversation…” but then my mouth shouldn’t shut up. I started babbling. Thank God, a woman across the way came to my rescue. We started talking – he was sandwiched between us, and he eventually got behind me in line with a group of pro-lifers who were making comments about sluts having abortions. There is more to abortions than just sluts and birth control. I did have the last laugh, however, when he started harassing them about their religious affiliation – they were Church of Christ, he was Catholic.
My friends and I (new ones included) hung out in ling together – I never saw the crazy guy again.
I don’t think I was ever nervous. I was just so intent on ignoring the grotesqueries that were happening around me. People with horrific signs and pictures, crosses, a small child with LIFE duct-taped to his mouth – you name it, I tried to ignore it.
I didn’t see a single police office, but state patrol officers were there in full force. They were generally very helpful. One stopped to read the sign on the right and his face screwed up once he realized the absurdity of it.
I finally got my card: I was in group 2! Group 1 was taken immediately in the room where everything was going to go down, and we were whisked into a holding room to wait. They grouped us into sections of 60 each, so that meant AT least 60 people were ahead of me. That’s a minimum of two hours, not counting transition time. Ok.
I was still thinking I’d be done by 2:00.
We weren’t allowed to bring food or drinks into the holding room, so we did take one little break for a granola bar and coffee. That was our breakfast and lunch. I don’t even know what time we ate that, but I wasn’t hungry anyway. I think I was way past the point of being hungry anymore.
Specifics things I remember about yesterday: Senator Deuell started the day out by bringing out props: baby shoes to remind us of all the babies that aren’t here to fill those shoes. I was livid. How dare he! I’m in the process of writing him a letter right now.
I was amazed at the lies, even with the “expert” witnesses. At one point, a lady said that all abortions after 16 weeks had to already be performed in ambulatory surgical centers. Uh. WRONG.
The lawyer they brought in from Notre Dame was equally ridiculous. It’s frustrating to know that these legislation is going to pass and people think those idiots were actually telling the truth.
There was gut-wrenching testimony from both sides. I will admit, there was some on the opposite side that was either worthy of an -eye because of the lies, or that I didn’t believe. There was one man who used his two minutes to confess his every sin, which still didn’t explain why this bill should be passed. Women don’t need to be protected from abortion, they need to be protected from him. See the difference? Another woman claimed that she went in for her abortion, and changed her mind at the last minute, but the doctors held her down and aborted her baby against her will. They said it was”too late.” Well, there is such a thing as too late. If the heart was already stopped, it’s too late. If the laminaria sticks had already been inserted, it’s too late. I’m not saying that it didn’t happen, but I find the story to be entirely suspect.
People confused religion with conscience, confused babies with women (the frikkin’ juggler was back and claimed that abortion killed 40,000 women every year), and just generally had no knowledge or real experience with this issue. I heard the phrase, “I was raped, but I was lucky because I didn’t get pregnant” too many times. One lesbian shared her story of “correctional” rape, when she was raped to teach her what a man really is.
When we finally got called out of the testimony room, I was in the front row. I got lots of texts saying people could see me, even though I wasn’t in focus.
We finally got the call we were up next. I think this must have been around 4:30 or so. I wasn’t really paying attention to time, all I was focused on were the butterflies in my stomach.
This is what I said:
It took me 36 months to get pregnant.
36 months of infertility, of feeling like a failure, of hating my body.
But my positive pregnancy test was worth it all: the surgeries, the treatments, the tears, the cost. I was finally going to be a mother.
I made a promise to my daughter before she was conceived – that I would always love her and keep her safe. But how could I do that with spina bifida? How could I protect her from her own body? That unspoken promise I made as a parent was tested in the most horrible and painful way when we given a poor prenatal diagnosis in the second trimester.
My husband and I made the most ethical decision we had available to us: we terminated our desperately wanted pregnancy. Forcing my daughter to live with such a severe non-fatal diagnosis felt like a condemnation to a lifetime of suffering, which is neither ethical nor compassionate. My daughter would have be “saved” by science only to be forced to endure operation after operation and live in hospitals.
Having a healthy child is a luxury that the creators of the bill enjoy every single day. They would not be personally affected by this. Unless you have been in a situation as desperate as mine, you cannot even begin to fathom the complexity of this issue.
Proponents claim this is about the woman’s health, but they don’t understand the ripples that SB1 would create. If politicians want to prevent fetal pain and improve women’s health, then they need to understand that anti-choice legislation like this only forces desperate women into the very situations they are trying to prevent.
I am an infertile woman and I terminated my only pregnancy because I was preventing pain, not causing it. Please vote no on this cruel and unusual punishment.
At some point, my voice cracked and I teared up, but I got it together and spat some words out. I wanted them to look at me. I wanted them see that this issue is not what they thought, and they. who have had had this procedure done or even had to consider it, should not be making decisions to damn my daughter to pain.
The woman after me made a snide comment about her friend has a kid with spina bifida, and HE is happy and healthy. I’m going to respond to THAT ignorance in another blog post.
Then, my friend J. gave my husband’s testimony:
In the first days of the New Year, my wife and I had our unborn daughter terminated.
We struggled through three years of infertility, spending thousands of dollars of our savings on treatments before finally getting pregnant. For sixteen weeks we felt her grow, and talked lovingly about all the hopes and dreams that she embodied. Then, the day after Christmas, our world fell apart.
We had chosen to pay for a sixteen-week ultrasound to determine the sex of our baby, instead of waiting for the scheduled scan at 20 weeks, and this ultrasound had revealed that she had the worst form of spina bifida. Over the next week we were told by specialists that paralysis, brain damage, and physical deformity was the beginning of our child’s problems. Bringing her to term meant risk to my wife, pre- and post-natal surgeries for our baby, and a lifetime of expensive medical care.
We had fought so hard to create this life that our first instinct was to protect her, to push forward, and to provide all the care for her that we could afford. Then we realized the selfishness of that – how could I justify forcing a person to endure a life of painful disability, purely to satisfy my own need for a child, when I had the power to prevent her suffering before it even started?
For that reason we chose not to gamble with our child’s life, and instead underwent a professional termination procedure as an act of mercy. The choice was the most difficult we have ever had to make, but it was ours to make as loving parents in the best interests of our baby. We were lucky to have found her condition early, to have had access to local resources when dealing with it, and to have had no ticking deadline hanging over our heads.
I urge the senate to say no to any legislation that would erode the rights of Texans to make a choice like mine after 20 weeks, or which would limit their access to the necessary medical professionals.
I was shaking, and I actually cried during my DH’s testimony. I was sandwhiched in between my two friends. When MA read her testimony, she also talked about my situation, so instead of having 2 minutes to talka bout termination for medical reasons, we had about 5 minutes. I don’t think those five minutes will make a difference – honestly, the senate’s minds were made up already. It was like sitting there pouring your heart out for nothing.
We left around 5, and headed over to our teacher’s union building, which was across the street from the Capitol. Our president and a few other people came out to hug us and tell us how wonderful we were- they watched our testimony and cried.
On the way home, DH googled my name to see if he could find my testimony and found that the Associated Press quoted me. I’m in newspapers across the country. I was out, whether I liked it or not. I have a lot more sympathy now for people who are facing coming out the closet. It was one thing for me to share this story anonymously, or share with friends who I KNEW were going to be sympathetic, but this was entirely different. What if my family read this? What i my STUDENTS read this? What if parents read this and started bombarding my school and district to let me go?
The one thing that I learned on Monday was that the anti-choicers (well, some of them) are cruel, mean-spirited, and vindictive. I don’t trust them at all, especially when it comes to my personal well-being. Just as the adrenaline was starting to wear off, it came back in full force.
I finally made it home around 9, but I couldn’t get to bed until much later.
It was hard day, but not the hardest day in my life. Some realizations that I made:
- These politicians are not smarter than me. They are not more eloquent that me. They are just people who make more money than me. They think they are better than me, but they aren’t.
- Hegar is an idiot. He did not write this bill. As a teacher, I can tell when a student plagiarizes – all you have to do is ask them details about their paper, and if they can’t answer, you know it’s not theirs. That’s what happened with Hegar.
- Republicans scream about personal responsibility, but this issue eludes them. One woman testified that she needed the government to protect herself from HERSELF. Or the women who had abortions and later regretted them. So you made a bad a choice, but that isn’t a reason to take that choice away from me. Let’s say I spend my whole life smoking cigarettes. I know they are bad. I know what they do. So does that mean when I get to be 60 ears old and discover I have cancer that the government can ban smoking and tobacco to make the world safer?
- It’s going to be illegal for me to protect my child from pain, but it will still be legal for women to smoke and drink while pregnant.
- A lot of people don’t realize that what I did is going to be illegal. They don’t understand.
- Hegar is refusing all amendments, even the one that changes “fatal anomaly” to “serious anomaly.”
Long post, I’m sorry, but it was a long day.