"It was a decision I am sorry I had to make." Get an abortion, that is. That's how attorney Dana L. (who asked that her last name not be published) explained her decision to get an abortion in Sunday's Washington Post. "It was awful, painful, sickening," but not her fault. Rather, the responsibility goes to (drum roll please!) George W. Bush: "I feel that this administration gave me practically no choice but to have an unwanted abortion."
Most people might have trouble imagining how President Bush could be to blame, but Dana L. has no doubt. Let's start at the beginning. She and her husband "both work, and like many couples, we're starved for time together." Obviously Bush's fault. He's had more than five years to come up with a government program to help people spend more time together. Instead, he's been giving people tax cuts which should allow people to work less, but, well, never mind.
Dana L. goes on: "One Thursday evening this past March, we managed to snag some rare couple time and, in a sudden rush of passion, I failed to insert my diaphragm." Obviously, the President was negligent in not being at their bedside to help equip them for a session of marital bliss. He was probably busy worrying about some silly geopolitical problem like, oh, Iran.
The next morning Dana L. called around and found that neither her ob/gyn nor her internist prescribed the "morning after pill" (which must be used within 72 hours). The midwifery practice that Dana L. had used could, but had no appointments available that day, and the weekend loomed. Where are subsidies for mid-wives when you need them? Again, obviously the administration's fault.
This was the moment of decision. Explains Dana L.: "I needed to meet my kids' school bus and, as I was pretty much out of options -- short of soliciting random Virginia doctors out of the phone book -- I figured I'd take my chances and hope for the best."
President Bush's hands are all over the problem here. Had Washington provided Virginia with more money for education, there would have been back-up school buses. Moreover, national health insurance would have allowed Dana L. to call one central number to get an appointment with a prescribing doctor -- of course, the appointment might have been for next year, but why sweat the details? Most important, if the administration had not been ravaging the budget there would have been a local federal statistical adviser who would have improved Dana L.'s understanding of her odds of getting pregnant.
ALAS, BECAUSE PRESIDENT BUSH failed in his responsibilities, Dana L. ended up pregnant. She's in good health, she noted, but she's taking a medication that is best not taken when one is pregnant. Indeed: "I worried because the odds of having a high-risk pregnancy or a baby born with serious health issues rise significantly after age 40. And I thought of the emotional upheavals that an unplanned pregnancy would cause our family. My husband and I are involved in all aspects of our children's lives, but even so, we feel we don't get enough time to spend with them as it is."
Obviously it all goes back to the fact the President was not compassionate enough to have dropped by that Thursday to have made sure Dana L. used her diaphragm. Had he done so, then everything would have been well.
No, in Dana L.'s view, it goes back to the fact that the morning after pill isn't available over-the-counter. And that's the fault of "conservative politics." It was President Bush and conservative politics that got her pregnant, er, prevented her from calling other doctors, er, made her "hope for the best."
There are other indignities, however. Virginia allows doctors not to prescribe a drug for moral reasons. The indignity! Imagine allowing doctors to exercise their consciences!
Nor does the horror end with the pill. Reports Dana L., "Calling doctors, I felt like a pariah when I asked whether they provided termination services." My goodness, some people called to heal the sick prefer not to kill the well. This is shocking. You wonder how they ended up as doctors.
Dana L. finally went to Planned Parenthood, but had to go to Washington, D.C. because she didn't want to suffer through Virginia's requirement of a 24-hour wait and pre-abortion counseling. And to top it off, the doctor was late.
Obviously this administration is to blame "because the way it has politicized religion made it well-nigh impossible for me to get emergency contraception that would have prevented the pregnancy in the first place." It's almost as if the President made Dana L. pregnant himself. One hates to think about what the administration is likely to start forcing people to do next.
ABORTION IS AN EXTRAORDINARILY difficult issue. No one should minimize the burden of an unwanted pregnancy. Involving the government in the sort of intensely personal decisions surrounding pregnancy is not a pleasant choice. And I'm not sure the morning after pill is a slam-dunk "no" for pro-lifers: absent implantation, even a fertilized egg is not yet part of the natural continuum of life.
Yet Dana L. is emblematic of our culture. She takes no responsibility for anything and sees no moral implications to even the gravest decisions.
Let's start with the obvious. If you have sex, babies can show up. If you engage in "unprotected" sex without wishing for a kid, you are being reckless. If you do so and don't feel like going to the trouble of calling around to find a doctor to prescribe the morning after pill, you aren't serious.
As for the abortion, you should feel like a pariah when scheduling one. Other than rape, you are pregnant by choice, if not by desire. The decision to have sex is about choice; the decision to have an abortion is about responsibility. Are you accountable for the mistakes that you make? Or is the unborn child within you responsible?
Dana L. faced a series of increasingly difficult decisions before she had her abortion. But she and her husband, not the administration, are responsible both for her pregnancy and her abortion.
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