Sunday, February 8, 2015

When 20-Week Abortions Are Banned

There are some rumors that H 3114, the bill that would ban abortion at twenty weeks, could come to a vote in the South Carolina House this week.  Debate began on it last week and was adjourned to this Wednesday, February 11.  I know I have only been tracking bills in South Carolina for a couple of years, but it seems to me that some bills just don't want to be tracked, and there are ways to keep the public from learning when and where and what happens next.  This is one of those bills.

The twenty week ban is a sneaky proposition.  Its premise, the "pain-capable" nonsense is false science; legislators, prompted by a National Right to Life model bill, bring up the same outlier research, and ignore the consensus of the medical and scientific community, that is, that pain receptors are not developed until 24 weeks at the earliest.  This is the kind of fake science that slings about emotional and suspect terms like "unborn baby" and "preborn" (which never fails to remind me of the "pre-owned" leased-car-for-sale euphemism).

This is the kind of science that is used when cigarette manufacturers try to prove cigarettes don't cause cancer, and fracking doesn't pollute the environment.  A doctor, a scientist, a "medical expert" is paraded about.  (Remember the joke about "What do they call the medical student that graduates at the bottom of the class?"  "Doctor.")  And the testimony is repeated, and becomes "fact."

And then there are the not just false, but crazy, claims that we have heard from actually elected officials, of masturbating fetuses:  "If they feel pleasure, why is it so hard to believe they feel pain?"  Yes, laugh so we don't cry at the horror of these bizarre fantasies wending their way into legislation which could destroy lives.

If this bill passes in South Carolina, what effect would it have?  In fact, for most of us, it would have no effect at all.  Because the reality is that an abortion at or after twenty weeks is extremely rare.  It occurs when there are severe complications in a wanted pregnancy.

Let me repeat that:  At twenty weeks or later, an abortion is extremely rare, and occurs when there are severe complications in a wanted pregnancy.

But the inflammatory rhetoric has resulted in most of us assuming that late-term abortions happen all the time, that they are frivolous, and that actual viable human life is snuffed out at the whim of the woman and her abortion doctor.

It was exactly this type of deception that brought us the "partial birth abortion" con job, and the subsequent federal law of 2003 which the Supreme Court upheld in 2007.  The term "partial birth" is not a medical term but a successfully inflammatory political one.  Given its success, it is not surprising that the next step on the war to ban abortion would be to save the "pain capable" twenty week fetus.

And what would happen if that bill were to pass?  For most of us, nothing.  Because the procedure is rare, it would not affect most of us.  But for the small percentage of women who suffer through the awareness that something serious is wrong with their pregnancy, this law would be a travesty and a tragedy.  It means doctors feeling the cold breath of the law watching and demanding documentation, and the possibility that they will be falsely accused of committing murder.  For the woman, it will mean adding to the crisis the fact that the government is surveilling her medical decisions.  It may mean that she is unable to make the decision to abort as soon as possible, adding days and weeks of agony to this already horrific situation.  It could mean that she is not allowed to have the abortion at all.  

In Georgia the law grudgingly allows for "medically futile" pregnancies, but not for exemptions for a woman's emotional or mental condition.  State Representative Terry England felt that there should be no exceptions:

“Life gives us many experiences,” England said in response to concerns that a woman would have to carry a fetus to term that was not expected to live. “I’ve had the experience of delivering calves, dead and alive -- delivering pigs, dead and alive. … It breaks our hearts to see those animals not make it.”

And in the US House of Representatives, Texas idiot Louis Gohmert agrees, actually telling a witness during hearings that she should have carried her pregnancy to term even though it had been determined that the fetus had no brain function.

This nightmare scenario that dim-witted legislators and the anti-abortion movement like to call life-affirming, means the possibility of carrying a fetus to term that will not be able to sustain life, or will be so severely disabled that it would require a life-until-death of pain and surgical interventions.  It would mean a family torn to shreds in emotional despair and financially devastated.

None of us begin a pregnancy assuming the worst could happen.  If it does, the last thing we need is Wendy Nanney or Lee Bright telling us what we should do about it.

So we need to shout, all of us, against this bill.  We need to call and email our legislators, over and over, and tell them why this bill is false science, and that it is not the business of our legislators to determine medical issues.  We need to fight for those who may need someday to have the freedom to choose a late-term abortion.  It is indeed a rare occurrence, but it is something that could happen to any of us.

Spread the word by email, Facebook or Twitter.  Write or call your legislators.  Write or call any legislators you know.  We people of reason really do outnumber those on the other side of this war on women's medical freedom and privacy.  Now is the time to let them know it.

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