Monday, April 23, 2007

In response to Brooks

David Brooks wrote an op-ed for the Sunday NYT, entitled "Postures in Public, Facts in the Womb." In which he spends most of his column space reciting science textbook facts over the developmental stages of a fetus. Which is supposed to have something to do with the Supreme Court decision. Yeah.

Here's my response, which I'm sure will *not* make its way onto the NYT members talk back page:

I was eager to read Brooks's column after the Supreme Court's ruling on so-called partial birth abortions (a term made up by the anti-choice crowd). From the title of his op-ed, I hoped to hear about the ramifications of this decision on women's health: after this ruling, doctors who judge the D & X procedure to be the safest option for a particular woman's health will no longer be able to use it (unless they can prove she would have died without it). These late term abortions are generally performed on fetuses with severe abnormalities and/or no chance of surviving (eg, no brain, severe spina bifada, etc.), and save a woman from carrying a dead or dying fetus, and then going through hours of painful labor only to deliver a dead body. The alternative procedure, from what I understand, can often be riskier (and certainly no less difficult to describe). And yet, the terms of the debate -- particularly in Brooks's article -- focused on the fetus rather than the woman carrying it. NARAL and Planned Parenthood aren't avoiding the term "fetus" so much as Brooks is avoiding the term "woman." If we truly cared about women, we would not take a procedure off the table when they need to make hard decisions about their health and families.

Further, Brooks's supposed "compromise" (that abortions be legal until a certain point, and after that only for rare circumstances; that minors be required to have parental notifications, etc.) continues this political posturing that he complains about. Either women own their own bodies and can make their own decisions regarding fetuses inside said bodies, or they don't. This isn't an issue that can be easily compromised upon, beyond of course the mark of "viability" for the fetus (i.e., the point at which it does not depend upon its mother's body for survival). Do we really want to force every teenager to tell her parents that she needs an abortion, even if one of those parents has raped her? Or abused her? Or will throw her out of the house? Instead of further laws restricting abortion, let's focus on getting these failed abstinence-only sex "education" classes out of our schools; let's make sure that contraception is widely available (and not politicized like the FDA's shameful delay in approving Plan B for over-the-counter sales); let's acknowledge that pro-choice policies are better for women and their families; and let's teach our children that sex is a natural part of life, but something over which they must make responsible decisions.

Life begins in the womb, but in the rush to consider the sanctity of potential life, let's not forget the sanctity of women's lives and the freedom to make their own moral decisions, decisions directly affecting their bodies and families.

Yep. Take that, Brooks. [Note: I did *not* include this last comment.]

That is all. I'm now going to read the Bible for my class tomorrow.

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