Killing Mothers in the Name of Family Values

(June 2003)

For those of you who live in the US,
here’s a terrifying scenario to consider.
It’s written from the male point of view,
but the women should get the affect just as easily.

It’s every soon-to-be-parent’s worst nightmare. After nine months of anticipation and planning, the big day comes, but instead of being a joyful experience, one short, horrifying sentence from the doctor turns it all into a nightmare.

“There’s been a complication, Mr. So-and-so.” And suddenly, your whole life is different. Like several hundred unfortunate women each year, your wife has suffered a life-threatening complication during childbirth. As you struggle to get understandable information from the medical staff, it only gets worse. Within an hour, you’ve been solemnly told that the complication will be fatal.

Now you have an agonizing decision to make. You and your wife and your doctor (and your gods) have to decide whether to save her life or the baby's. Maybe you discussed it with your wife beforehand, just in case, but that’s highly doubtful. So, who dies…your wife, your partner for life (and possibly the mother of other children), leaving her new baby (and any other children) to grow up without a mother, leaving you to raise them alone…or your new baby, the pride and joy that’s grown inside her for nine months? Who dies?

Can you imagine a harder decision…a worse situation?

Well, guess what…you don’t have to worry now, because Congress has made the decision for you. You don’t have to make the choice anymore…in fact, neither you, your wife, the doctor (or your gods) get any say whatsoever. Led by John Ashcroft and other reactionary Republicans—-who, in a sick twist of irony, call themselves “pro-life” and “pro-family”—-the US Congress has passed (or, is trying to pass) a law to decide just such a situation. There is no choice. Your wife must die. Nevermind that it’s not certain the newborn baby will survive the birth--while an emergency dialation extraction procedure would certainly save your wife--you needn’t worry yourself with the decision. Congress has decided. The potential life of a newborn is worth more than the life of a fully-grown, productive woman with family members who love her, very likely with other children who depend on her.

If you’re not outraged, you should be. This is one decision the politicians DON’T have the right to make. The “Partial Birth Abortion Bill” has been politicized to such a degree that few people are aware of the reality anymore. The right-wing fanatics have most people convinced that women carry babies for nine months and then suddenly decide “hmmm…I don’t want this after all,” and have an abortion. It’s untrue. These procedures are done to save the mother’s life...they are done on women who planned all along to HAVE the baby, but then suffer a horrible tragedy. Yet the hardcore right-wingers like Ashcroft have refused to allow provisions protecting the life of the mother, and that’s why the bill hasn’t passed (until now).

These are not “birth-control” abortions, they are “theraputic” abortions, ie: to save the woman’s life. Such abortions were allowed even BEFORE Roe v. Wade. Yet, if John Ashcroft has his way, doctors who find their patients in such situations will no longer be able to use the method officially endorsed by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Instead, they will be forced to try to deliver the motherless baby, while the father helplessly watches his new child extracted from his partner’s corpse.

Yeah…sure sounds “pro-family” to me.

Now, depending on when you read this, you may be able to stop this from happening. Call and/or write your congressperson and representatives and let them know that such a decision should be left to doctors, mothers, and fathers…as it always has been.

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