When fact emulates fiction

03.13.03

The U.S. Senate has approved a ban on partial-birth abortions. President Bush is said to be eager to sign the ban into law.

One of the most interesting books I’ve read lately is Protect and Defend by Richard North Patterson. It’s political and legal fiction set in the future, but the central issue examined in the book is that of partial-birth abortion. It deals with a case of a fifteen-year-old girl fighting for the right to abort her hopelessly defective fetus in aims of preserving her reproductive health and ability to bear future children. Due to a fictional “Protection of Life Act”, she needs parental consent for this procedure, which her staunchly pro-life parents refuse to give, so she takes them to court. Meanwhile, a new president is fighting to get his nominee for the Supreme Court confirmed by senate, and the very political future of the country hinges on the case of this fifteen-year-old.

The surrounding issues in the book – viability of the fetus, physical and mental health of the mother, parental consent laws, and, most importantly, how the issue is used by politicians to advance their own careers at the expense of privacy – seem almost prophetic, given today’s announcement. In fact, the following quote is almost identical to one contained in the novel:

California Democrat Barbara Boxer said “partial birth” is not a medical term, but a political one.

“They made up the term partial birth abortion,” she said. “There isn’t such a thing. … It’s a very emotional term but what we’re talking about here is a procedure that is used in situations where any other procedure might cause grave harm to the woman.”

For the record, I’m not “pro-abortion” in the same sense that I’m not “pro-war”. Abortion, like war, is always regrettable. But I am very definitely pro-choice. I don’t believe that the state has any right to meddle in the reproductive rights of a woman. Each and every situation is different, and the woman is always in a better position to weigh and judge the situation than some legislator lobbying for votes.

It may surprise some regular readers of the blog, but it’s precisely reasons like this one that turn me off from the right-wing political contingent both in the U.S. and here in Canada. A political party that presumes to dictate its own version of “morality” to the public – often at great expense – is not one I’d want to have anything to do with. Foreign policy and the war on terror has overshadowed some of these issues, but they still exist. And for the women caught in the middle of the debate, their hard-won rights are being curbed a bit more every day.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jaws 03.13.03 at 5:01 PM

I don’t have a set opinion on abortion, but a question for Sen. Boxer—what is the proper medical terminology?

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2 segacs 03.13.03 at 5:18 PM

I doubt she reads my site.

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3 jaws 03.13.03 at 9:40 PM

🙂

The pundits will be jumping on that quote

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4 ronnie schreiber 03.14.03 at 5:06 AM

Regardless of how one feels about abortion, the procedure called partial birth abortion is closer to infanticide than abortion and is pretty gruesome.

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5 Jonny 03.14.03 at 5:47 AM

This is an issue for women. Men should stay out of it.

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6 J.M. Heinrichs, Capt 03.16.03 at 1:53 AM

“… the right-wing political contingent both in the U.S. and here in Canada. A political party that presumes to dictate its own version of “morality” to the public – often at great expense – is not one I’d want to have anything to do with.”
My query would be that the ‘other politcal party’ has been in a position to, if may I quote: “dictate its own version of “morality” to the public.” What is the difference, politically?
Am I against a woman’s right to control her body? No. I question, though, why that right is to be exercised only after a certain event, ie, conception. A number of thoughts follow from this, but my main point would be that if Pro-Choice is to be legitimate then the Choice should be made where it is most effective, and logical.

Cheers

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