If Women Don’t Have Autonomy, Then No One Does. Eat Those Apples

So, to all you pro-birthers out there that want to create religious laws that force women to carry pregnancies they do not want or are not healthy, I have an idea on evening that up. But let’s start with really explaining in depth the risks associated with pregnancy, so that there is no misunderstanding what denying a woman’s autonomy actually entails. Then we will get to exactly how that can affect men and women who would, otherwise, be unaffected by  anti-abortion legislation.

You see, every pregnancy comes with significant risks to the woman’s health, mental health, and life. Without fail, every single pregnancy. This is a basis for why it must be a choice, because she has to sacrifice herself, at least to some degree.

Pregnancy takes from the woman’s body to grow the embryo or fetus. It draws out the calcium, often depleting her bones, which later results in osteoporosis and is one reason why women are so much more likely to develop the debilitating condition. It pulls calcium from her teeth, which has a prolonged affect on the health and strength of her teeth, leading to dental problems she likely would never have had without pregnancy. It literally moves and changes the shape of her bones, painfully.

Pregnancy is marked with back pain that frequently persists and can even cause damage in the low back that never subsides, creating permanent pain and reduction of mobility. It puts pressure on other organs, which can be damaged. Most frequently damaged is the bladder. Pressure from pregnancy frequently causes the bladder to develop what is, essentially, a pocket or a little sack of sorts.

This is very common. It can happen in the first pregnancy, but likelihood increases with each subsequent one. The reason this is bad is because urine gets trapped in the pocket and grows bacteria, which results in infection. Over and over again. These infections, left untreated, can spread to the kidneys and cause pyelonephritis. And while I say “untreated,” that does not mean she ignores it. Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are treated with antibiotics, but any person treated too often will build a resistance to them, thus increasing their risk of a UTI spreading and becoming more dangerous.

Women also risk complications after childbirth of things like a prolapsed uterus. Poor, single, and lower middle class women are at greater risk of this because they are the ones without the kind of jobs which offer paid maternity leave. They are also less likely to receive adequate prenatal healthcare or warnings about their activity after birth. But even with those warnings, they need to work. They have to have income. So they return to activities that are too strenuous. I’ve worked ER and had to assist on a post-birth examination of a woman whose uterus prolapsed. She was 19.

Women’s bodies are contorted, stretched, their skin marred with scars that never go away. Their breasts suffer fibrocystic changes and scarring that can later put them at greater risk to develop breast cancers. Scar tissue increases the risk of cancer. Women frequently develop hernias and umbilical hernias after birth.

The medical ramifications of pregnancy do not end with a successful birth. Some disfigurement is permanent. Scarring is permanent. Many of the most common complications I have listed here are permanent. They result in lifelong medical conditions. Most of the issues I have listed here are common. In fact, more likely than not to occur.

And these things have not even addressed the shorter term complications of morning sickness, which is prevalent in more pregnancies than not. The headaches. The aches and pains from the bones softening and moving, making it difficult to sit or stand for long. It does not address the nutritional necessities of pregnancy, which force a woman to eat much more food, or the embryo will steal the nutrition directly from her own reserves, leaving her weak. Anemia is common. And not just during pregnancy, but also in the blood loss that comes during birth and afterwards. And then there are the risks of gestational diabetes, preeclampsia, and other life-threatening conditions.

Most women towards the end of their pregnancy are forced to stop working. Many are placed on bed rest due to the stress the pregnancy causes on their bodies which can result in preterm labor. Adequate healthcare for these women requires weekly, or twice weekly, stress tests at their doctor’s office, frequent ultrasounds to determine the stress on the fetus, often medications to prevent preterm labor and frequently hospitalization.

Preeclampsia is very dangerous. It affects about 8% of pregnancies, which is far too many women to ignore as uncommon. That is 8 out of every 100, some more severe than others. It can kill a woman and the baby as her blood pressure increases to dangerous levels, her kidneys stop functioning properly, and she swells up with fluid retention. It is nearly impossible to control. It causes the uterus to become spongy. It most frequently results in preterm birth by emergency c-section. Yes. Many women face surgery as their only safe form of giving birth. I’ll get to that in a minute. Preeclampsia can cause permanent damage to a woman’s kidneys and uterus. Even the c-section is a serious risk because a spongy uterus bleeds too much and the bleeding is difficult to stop. Some women require blood transfusions as a result.

Many women are not able to have a vaginal birth. There are a multitude of reasons for this, like a tilted uterus. Complications, such as those listed above, are others. A breech fetus. As of 2018, 21% of births in the United States were by c-section. That is 21% of pregnancies with some form of complication which results in the necessity of surgery. That is not a small number. That is not a risk that can be shoved aside as uncommon. A c-section is performed because there is significant risk to the life of the mother, the baby or both from a vaginal birth. You really need to let that sink in. That is how dangerous pregnancy is, that more than one fifth of pregnancies are so unsafe that the woman cannot have a natural birth, but must have medical intervention and surgery, which always comes with its own risks, complications and permanent scarring inside and out.

The decision to have a child should never be taken lightly. In fact, it should be given the same weight as becoming a living organ donor. You are taking just as many, if not more, risks as donating a kidney to save someone else’s life. Choosing to become a mother is a beautiful thing that a woman does in self-sacrifice. She takes on all these potential complications, all these permanent repercussions, all these expenses which far outlast the term of the pregnancy and even the risks of future illnesses and conditions, and she does so willingly. As I have said before, she chooses to sacrifice to create a new life.

But if she does not want to take those risks, what then? What if she is not okay with risking her life or her body? What if she does not want to be permanently scarred and marred? What if she does not want to be responsible for a child or growing one? What if she doesn’t want to have to put school or her career or her dreams on hold? What if she knows she can’t afford quality prenatal care? The lower middle class are most affected by this because they make too much for medicaid and not enough to pay medical costs. What if she is alone? Pro-birthers say she can give the baby up for adoption, but that doesn’t get her through the pregnancy, does it? What if she is a minority group who knows her baby is more likely to end up in foster homes than with a loving, permanent family? What if she is in an abusive home? What if she was raped? What if its her uncle’s baby? Or her brother’s? What if she is only 11 years old? What if she is forty-five? What if she fights clinical depression and knows the consequences pregnancy can have? What if she just doesn’t want to have a baby or be pregnant?

Would you make that choice for her? Should the government tell a woman she must face these risks? Force her to make those sacrifices she does not want to make? If the government can invade a woman’s body, then it can invade anyone’s body. Remember that. If you suggest a woman must continue an unwanted pregnancy and supposedly save that child’s life at risk to her own, then why can’t the government take something from you against your will to save someone else’s life?

Hmmm?

Why can’t they require you to donate your blood? It saves other people’s lives. Sure there may be some risk to you, but that is definitely much less than pregnancy. So are you good with the government taking your blood once or twice a month to make sure there is adequate supply for those who need it?

Notice I didn’t say donate. Donation is a choice to make that sacrifice. No, mandated taking of your blood.

And why stop there? You have an extra kidney. Why can’t the government take that if you are healthy? It would save someone else’s life. You don’t need it. Sure there is some risk, but not greater than pregnancy. You have the perfectly reasonable ability to save someone’s life! A life! A life every bit as important as a fetus!

In fact, that life may have others depending on it, or it could be a child. How selfish of you to not want to part with an extra kidney you don’t even need! And why? Because you are afraid of a little risk to your health?

Over three thousand people are added to the waiting list for a kidney donation every single month. A month! And you don’t think the government should do something about that? You know how expensive dialysis is and how many of these people are forced on Social Security Disability, Medicaid and Medicare? (Just think of the taxpayer money it would save!) You know they will eventually die a miserable, painful death without that kidney? So the government maybe should step in and start registering everyone’s blood type and health, mandate health check-ups that are kept in a government record for donor prospects. That way they can match up what is needed with who lives nearby that can satisfy that need.

What, you don’t think that is a good idea? You don’t want to be mandated by the government to give up a kidney or half a liver? Why? The risk to your life is lower than the risk in pregnancy. If a woman with nothing more than a glob of cells in her uterus is not entitled to autonomy, why should you be? Your refusal condemns someone more readily than her choice to not continue a pregnancy.

After all, that pregnancy she chooses to abort might not have even resulted in a person at all. Twenty percent of KNOWN pregnancies end in miscarriage before twenty weeks. The actual number is much higher because so many happen before the woman even realizes she is pregnant. But, at the point where she would have to choose to continue the pregnancy or not, there is a one in five chance the pregnancy would be lost anyway. The chance of saving someone with a kidney transplant is much better, but you don’t want the government to tell you to do that.

Selfish.

By the way, there are seventeen thousand people waiting right now for a liver transplant. There’s a good likelihood you are a match for at least one of them. Why is not your responsibility to save that life?

Oh yeah, you are selfish.

You want to mandate what people do who would make a different decision than you  regarding pregnancy or mandate risk to others that you cannot face. But if you are asked to face a similar risk and a similar invasion to your autonomy, then you would certainly balk at that. You would be quick to say they have no right to take your blood without your permission, let alone a kidney or half your liver!

But here is the thing: Taking away the autonomy of an individual is a slippery slope. You don’t get to pick and choose that it is okay to take this one group’s autonomy away, but not this other group of people. There is almost no risk to blood donation. So why not make it mandatory? What is your reason for not doing that? Because it is invasive and intrusive for the government to dictate your body?

Pro-birthers do not want their autonomy taken away. Making abortion illegal does not change their choice. Male or female, it doesn’t matter because these anti-women laws have zero impact on the choices they would make. Therefore, they sacrifice nothing. It doesn’t affect them. Their autonomy isn’t compromised in any viable way they can see. They just want others to make the same choices as they would and are willing to force them to do so. For the women, they can’t imagine not wanting a child. How short sighted and small minded they are!

And make no mistake, there is a reason these bills and new laws are not making exceptions for things like incest or rape. They have learned that if they make those exceptions, they have already lost the argument and the legal battle. They would have already conceded that the mental and emotional state of a woman, having been victimized, has greater importance than the potential life inside her. They call abortion murdering a baby. They would be saying that baby murder is okay sometimes, but not other times. This is why there are no exclusions, even though almost all conservatives are uncomfortable with the lack of exceptions.

If these people want so badly to take away the autonomy of others, then they should have to accept the loss of their own as well. For a woman who has no desire to be pregnant, forcing her to carry a child is no different than stripping a kidney out of her body by government mandate. Are you okay with government mandated taking of blood and organs? If not, then you aren’t really pro-life. You just want to control the decisions of others that you don’t agree with. But it isn’t about saving lives. You have the power to do that and don’t out of your own selfishness and fear. But your fear and your selfishness is okay. That is fine because you feel justified in it. You are self righteous.

But here is the thing, I don’t want anyone to lose their autonomy at all. I think our bodies belong to us and we should make the decisions about what happens to us. I don’t want to take away your autonomy or a woman’s right to choose when or if to become a mother. But if Roe vs. Wade is overturned, then our autonomy as women is already forfeit and I’ll be damned if we suffer that loss alone. I’ll be coming after yours and use your own laws against you.

Maybe you didn’t see that writing on the wall? Maybe you didn’t realize where it could lead? We can ride that slippery slope, starting with mandatory blood donation. The risk there is minuscule, especially compared to pregnancy. Then we can work our way up to skin grafts, kidneys and then portions of livers. How about stem cells and bone marrow? Yes, it might be painful, but so is childbirth. It might leave a scar, but so does pregnancy. If you are going to deny autonomy, it won’t stop just where you want it. And you will have set the legal precedent for the government’s invasion of your body. Karma is a real bitch sometimes.

And yes, it really does set a precedent to expound upon. When you make it law to revoke autonomy from an individual because you have placed a legal morality by mandate on that individual to accept physical and mental risks to their person for the sake of prolonging the life of what is perceived as someone else, then you have created a legal scenario which can be applied to a host of other possibilities aside from pregnancy and that apply to all people, not just women.

So, tell me, just what are you willing to sacrifice?

I vote for autonomy for all people, but, you know, if you can’t accept that, then it will be autonomy for no one instead. We will shove that cake down your throat. Are you willing to eat that poisoned apple you are trying to force on women and girls?

Go ahead, call me a bitch for threatening your autonomy. I’ll ride that wave of karma with a smile and wear that badge with pride. Oh, and I’ll save more lives than you in the process. You really want to go there? Let’s do it. See, I am a mother. I have a daughter who is scared to death right now because she lives in one of these states trying to take her autonomy away. If you are coming after her rights to her own body, make no mistake, this bitch of a mother will come after yours.

We are One Woman, One World.

 

 

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