In light of certain special interest groups who expect our current federal government to follow the lead of the Bush administration, an important point needs to be made widely known: the new abortion decision from the US Supreme Court will not save the life of a single foetus.
What it will mean is that women who have terminal late-term complications (for themselves or their foetus) in a wanted pregnancy will be prohibited from using a procedure – intact dilation and extraction (IDX) – that protects their future ability to bear children. [more on this at Bitch PhD]
Indeed, for their future health and safety many of these women will have to terminate any future pregnancies early, because they will be unable to safely carry a pregnancy to full-term. Follow the maths: there will in fact be more abortions as a result of this ruling, not fewer.
N.B. Graphic details of uterine surgery follow:
Because the only reason for terminating a pregnancy in the third trimester is serious medical complications, these women will still abort their pregnancies in order to save their own health and lives. They will now have no option but to undergo the still-legal alternatives, which involve dismembering the body of the fetus inside the uterus and requiring the woman to deliver fragments containing bone shards capable of perforating the uterus and lacerating the cervix.
So how is this dismemberment option any morally better than the method that’s just been ruled illegal?
Mnemosyne, in comments at Pandagon:
It seems that the entire justification for this ban is âeww gross.â? Gee, that sure looks really awful.
You know what looks really awful? When a womanâs uterus and vagina are shredded by the shards of her anencephalitic babyâs skull when it gets crushed coming through the birth canal.
Oh, wait, I forgot â itâs far more morally problematic to abort a child that has zero chance of living more than a few hours (if itâs born alive at all) than it is to allow a woman to be permanently crippled giving birth to a dead, headless baby. My mistake.
Perforated uteruses and lacerated cervixes (and vaginas) mean that future pregnancies simply cannot be carried to term. These women with damaged organs who do fall pregnant subsequently then have the choice of suffering horribly complicated mid-term miscarriages, which may lead to lifethreatening haemorrhages, or having an early abortion to protect their health. This ruling clearly values not actually the life of the fetus over the mother’s (the fetus in such cases is doomed one way or another) but instead the feel-good avoidance of the “ewww” factor over the health and future fertility of women who want to be mothers.
Amanda Marcotte has a powerful post on how this ruling at its root devalues the lives of women by denying them independent value as autonomous beings. The comments thread is worth reading too, where commentor Mnemosyne puts it in a nutshell:
The right-wing can scream and cry about saving âbabiesâ? all they want, but this decision did nothing but harm women whose planned and wanted pregnancies went horribly, horribly wrong and left those womenâs doctors with fewer options to save their patientsâ fertility if they want to try again.
Updated to add: Excellent post at Balkinization about how the language in from Justice Kennedy about informed consent is the real big news, and how that language essentially casts women as irrational creatures who don’t really know their own minds.
Update: More reading : Intentionally Choosing at The Republic of T.