Thursday, May 9, 2019

My Abortion Column, Revised

I posted this last week, as an upcoming newspaper column. I decided to wait, and in the meantime, I've revised it for publication:
Discussing abortion is dangerous territory for a column, but Trump, et ilk, are already giving it prime space amongst the next-election lies they’re spreading about Democrats. “Executing” newborns is how Trump put it at his recent “Rally the Uninquisitive” roadshow. By actual count his ten-thousandth, it’s his most loathsome lie yet. In the interest of accuracy, which used to be a thing, let’s revisit the origin of this odious demagoguery. 
Yes, there are people who believe, in the rare circumstances in which third-trimester abortions are medically indicated, the decision must be left to parents and their doctors. Not Donald Trump, not Franklin Graham, not Sean Hannity. Having shared many tough medical decisions with patients, I’m grateful they never included that, the most wrenching of all.  
The big lie began when former pediatric neurologist, Virginia Governor Ralph Northam’s answer to a question was leapt upon by rightwing fake news, easily convincing the dupable he’d advocated infanticide. (Trump made hacking motions when saying “execution.”) The heartbreaking circumstance Northam described was a baby born so malformed that it wouldn’t long survive. He answered unambiguously: it would be cuddled in a blanket while the parents resolved whether they wished the baby to receive aggressive life-support or comfort measures only, while dying naturally. 
Some distant bystanders will argue the baby should be kept alive at all costs, until its inevitable death. More, one hopes, would apprehend the parents’ pain, and sympathize with choosing only gentleness as death approached. In turning such anguish into a heartless, deceitful theme of his rallies, Trump sank to a level of repulsiveness, disgraceful even for him. 
Perhaps those at Trump’s rallies should be forgiven. Made terminally indifferent to pursuing truth, they attend to baste in his lies, without reflection, whatever the target. Were they to make the tiniest effort to cleanse themselves with truth; had they the smallest sliver of empathy for people who don’t happen to be them, perhaps they’d reject his perfidy and be appalled by his confidence in deluding them, whatever the lies. So, no: in fact, they shouldn’t be forgiven. Truth is obtainable, and everyone benefits when people care to discover it. Those who don’t, go to rallies.  
Despite rightwing falsifiers and lunatic legislators, Governor Northam wasn’t referring to birth after a failed abortion attempt, either. Trump didn’t care; those lies work as well for him as ones about immigration. 
In a perfect world, there’d be no abortions (or birth defects). Unlike anti-choice proponents, pro-choice advocates favor birth control and sex education – not the abstinence-only kind – knowing they significantly decrease the incidence; and that the greatest number of teen pregnancies and abortions occur where they’re unavailable. To anti-choice folks, it’s immaterial. Because sin, one assumes.  
The decision to undergo an abortion is manifestly fraught. And it’s understandable, that, for religious reasons, some consider abortion murder at any stage, finding no distinction between a fertilized ovum and a full-term baby. Neither is it hard to grasp the difficulty, for those who see a difference, in agreeing at what stage of pregnancy abortion ought to have restrictions. 
There’ll never be consensus, especially downwind from such a poisonous “president.” Nevertheless, those whose no-exception stance is religion-based must accept that they’re in America, where no single religious view takes precedence over another. Not yet, anyway. 
Anti-choice believers can console themselves in their certainty of heavenly entrĂ©e, and that those who perform and receive abortions will suffer eternal damnation. (The Bible is notably silent on the issue, however.) And, because it’s said God knows us before we’re born and has a plan for us all, they may take comfort in knowing the aborted will be fine.  
Medical science tells us around a third of early conceptuses die in the womb, to be resorbed or expelled unnoticed; plus, there are countless miscarriages. And stillbirths. Given the religious argument for “no exceptions,” God is involved in every one of those deaths. That challenges religious objections to abortion, about which, again, the Bible is silent. It ought to be acceptable, then, that abortion remains legal, safe, and rare. 
To that end, programs which further its rarity should be supported by everyone. And funded. Because they’re pro-life, so should services that aid underprivileged, disadvantaged forced-birth babies and their mothers. And adoption. Tell it to Republican Congress-folk.  
Donald Trump needs to stop lying. Those who believe him should be ashamed. Why? Read this.


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