Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Birth Control, Abortion, Conscience, Those Sticky Subjects...

News article via Butterfly Cauldron. And her post on it is highly recommended reading.

I'm no longer surprised when I hear of women being denied access to birth control, particularly emergency contraception, because a doctor or pharmacist is morally opposed to it. The lack of surprise hasn't stopped me from experiencing a renewed surge of moral outrage with each new case.

First and foremost, my rage is directed at the nutters who have equated EC with the abortion pill. These are not the same drugs and do not affect women's bodies (or potential/established pregnancies) in the same way. EC works in the same way as the Pill, the hormones prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the uterine wall. It will not cause an already implanted embryo to abort. But some talking head somewhere, it's probably Bill O'Reilly and Concerned Women for America has decided that EC is the equivalent of a medical abortion. Frankly, as sources of information, I think both of these are the pits, but apparently many people don't.

Second, I do have something of a problem with the way conscience clauses work out. Why would you knowingly go into a field where you know that you're opposed to standard practices? It would be quite similar to a confirmed small picture pacifist such as myself entering the military. And, while we're on the subject of the military, why in the name of all that is good and holy should doctors and pharmacists -- maybe ones who changed their "worldview" (that's the current catchphrase is evangelical land isn't it?) mid-through med school -- have a better conscientious objector system than folks in the military? The conscientious objector laws the United States currently has is rotten to core and allows little to no freedom of conscience. Or let's try something else, I could also decide to be a missionary on, oh let's say, the Southern Baptist ticket (when pig's fly, my pretties), would it be in anyway logical for me to go into the mission field knowing that I morally and ethically opposed to a huge, huge number of SBC teachings and practices? Or if, I made it to India and realized that I was really more called to Shiva or Kali that I continue working in the SBC mission field? No, it wouldn't. So, why would someone who is morally opposed to any kind of contraception go into gynecology where prescribing contraception is a standard practice?

Or at the very least, physicians should be required, as Butterfly Cauldron suggests, to inform potential patients upfront that they are morally opposed to contraception.

And to be frank, I don't fully understand the equivocation of potential life with an existing life. Further, I don't buy into claims that the Bible clearly states that anywhere. Last time I was reading, the penalty in the Levitical Code for causing a woman to miscarry was not the same as the penalty for murdering a person. This will get me into trouble, but God also never seemed to be above engaging in infanticide himself when he wanted to make a point. And, I don't think that there's anything in the New Testament regarding abortion and birth control at all. So, while people may indeed be convinced that contraception and abortion are morally wrong, that belief is based in something other than the Bible alone. You can believe in good faith that life begins when sperm meets egg just as much as you can believe anything else in good faith. But unfortunately, belief does not equal fact. The exact point at which life/personhood begins is unknown, unknowable, and we can't go around making laws that hurt women -- definitely established persons, right? right? maybe? -- based on a hunch that doesn't have much in the way of objective backing. Unless, of course, women aren't really persons which is indeed a belief espoused by some within this country.

Of course, the double standard here becomes clear when lesbians and single women are denied fertility treatments or even a routine physical exam prior to adopting a child. No, no, all potential lives are not precious and equal -- not when the persons who want to create a new life don't meet some arbitrary standard of who should be raising a potential life.

Hey and I'm even someone who's relatively disgusted by the number of abortions in this country. Of course, I'm disgusted because if we got some decent sex-ed for young persons some that they really knew what their options were and how to obtain and use said options, the increased ability to get ahold of those options, and the self-confidence to insist on what's right for them, there would be a heck of a lot less abortions. And yeah, abstinence is one of those options and young persons should feel empowered to insist on their right to remain abstinent if they so desire. Just like I feel empowered to insist on contraception should I ever need it (Why, yes. This post is being written by one person virgin enough to make St. Jerome shed happy tears and write creepy letters!) So let's abolish that absolute crap known as abstinence only sex ed, and maybe do something really radical like make regular old birth control available over the counter. (I can do a lot more damage to my body with Ibuprofen and actually probably have already.) And, further, the ability to prevent a pregnancy if I choose to have sex with a guy and the condom breaks or under any other circumstances gives me a heck of a lot more choice and autonomy over my body than an abortion does.

After all, I am a control freak.

1 comment:

Zan said...

I lift my lighter to you. Flame on.

I'm a control freak too, frankly. That's why I'm on the Pill and insist upon condoms. And still, should the need arise, want the option of terminating a pregnancy. And gods help any doctor who tries to give me crap for it ;)