If you had any doubts as to whether or not a government had the exclusive right to decide what is good for you, the decision of George W. Bush to sign the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003 should have answered your questions by now. This act alone seems to have revived all the old abortion arguments of the past, and has even conjured up brand new ones.
The argument for pro-choice advocates of the intact dilation and extraction procedure, as it has been before with abortion in general, is that any law prohibiting the act would be a violation of the doctor and patient confidentiality.
But the new ban that President Bush has recently signed goes beyond a simple breach of privacy.
This act criminalizes a procedure that physicians deem medically necessary for a select number of women, and it also does not provide exceptions for when a woman’s health is in jeopardy.
Essentially, the government seeks to imprison doctors for doing their job, which is providing patients with their best medical judgment.
If it is a physician’s medical judgment that a woman must have a later abortion procedure to protect her life or health, does the government have a right to take that treatment away?
Can politicians really say they know more about a woman’s health than her own physician?
The supporters of the Abortion Ban Act want to fight for life, but somewhere along the line, they seemed to have forgotten about the life of the woman.
In fact, many pro-life advocates seem to go out of their way to mistakenly portray those who seek abortion as selfish and irresponsible individuals who are indecisive about their pregnancy.
Actually, the majority of women who finally decide that intact dilation and extraction is the right choice for them are those who genuinely wanted children from the very beginning. Doctors, however, may not find severe problems with a fetus until the late second or third trimester.
What many people do not understand is that the intact dilation and extraction method may be the last remaining option to avoid severe biological complications to a woman’s health or a painful life and death for her child.
For the pro-life faction, the difficult situation of the mother is either completely misunderstood or blatantly ignored.
Bush claims that the ‘right to life cannot be granted or denied by the government,’ but he seems to contradict himself in supporting the Partial Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003.
It is not the government’s responsibility to proscribe something that it does not comprehend based on politicians’ moral judgments. If a woman is in such a state where she has to resort to a late abortion procedure, the law would not prevent her from receiving treatment from backdoor ‘doctors,’ or even worse, from trying to solve her problem by herself.
If a woman’s health is in danger, she should not be made to scurry about as if she were committing a crime. She should not have to fear for her safety because militant pro-life supporters threaten abortion clinics with violence. And she should definitely not endanger her own life and proceed with a pregnancy just to appease the moral righteousness of others.
The government’s job is to prevent harm, not create more, for its citizens. It should dedicate its efforts to enforcing stricter regulations for abortion and offering safer treatments, cooperating with the medical profession to give its citizens the benefits of health that they deserve.
Do I have the right to really call myself a pro-choice advocate?
I am, after all, one of those people who would only accept the term with an additional ‘except’ this or ‘but’ that. I can admit that I do not support abortion based on a ‘no-matter-what’ foundation.
It would be a mistake for abortion activists to fight for that kind of cause and provide fodder for opponents to claim that all pro-choice advocates support the frivolous use of abortion.
What I can support, however, is a reasonable and regulated toleration of the procedure, because I can understand that it is necessary.
In the end, the ultimate choice of the woman may not even be a ‘choice’ in the traditional definition of the term.
Abortion should only be used after every other option has been exhausted. It is not to be used as just another form of birth control, but as a measure to protect the life and health of the mother and the dignity of the child.
Jee Soo Kim is a second-year criminology, law and society and psychology and social behavior major. Comments, questions, and donations (just kidding) to email@example.com.