Friday, May 26, 2017

Abortion Providers: No Place to Share

Every year, the National Abortion Federation -- sort of an abortion provider's guild, if you will -- gathers for an annual meeting in which they share with one another the trials and triumphs of their business. A recently released video looks at a topic they've brought up before: Nobody understands what it's like to be the person actually doing the abortion. Those who actually do the abortions feel marginalized and shut out even by their own political allies.

"Our stories don't really have a place in a lot of pro choice discourse and rhetoric, right?," laments Dr. Lisa Harris, Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of Michigan, during a panel discussion.

She delves into the details of what her audience clearly appreciates. "The heads that get stuck that we can't get out. The hemorrhages that we manage. You know, those are all parts of our experiences. But there's no real good place for us to share those."

Indeed. Most of us, when we go home to our families and friends, can complain about the difficult day we've had at work. A cashier can share the story of a rude customer. A truck driver can lament about the idiot in a Camaro who cut him off. An attorney can grouse about the troublesome ruling a judge made.

Even people with jobs that tend to be yucky can find time to vent with family and friends. A trash collector might not discuss the maggots over dinner, but he could bring it up with friends on a fishing trip. A surgeon wouldn't bring up a huge tumor at a cocktail party, but she could bring it up over yard work, perhaps.

But under what circumstances could one discuss fishing around inside a woman's body with forceps, trying desperately to pull out a human head?

Dr. Uta Landy, founder of the Consortium of Abortion Providers, relates another experience common to them all, judging from the chuckle it elicits: "An eyeball just fell down into my lap, that that is gross!"

Nobody's going to want to hear at all. Not even people who are adamantly pro choice. Perhaps especially not people who are adamantly pro choice. Loose eyeballs and stuck heads aren't the sort of things one wants to be thinking about when asserting abortion as a mere exercise in bodily rights.

Imagine if you will, a pro choice rally regarding late-term abortion laws. What's being discussed? Women's circumstances. A teenager who put off admitting that she was pregnant. A mom learning that her unborn child has a serious illness or disabililty. A family facing financial hardship.

Imagine that Dr. Ann Schutt-Aine, Director of Abortion Services for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, puts her two cents in. It's tricky to avoid breaking the law against doing "partial birth abortions," defined in the law as pulling the living fetus out feet first past the umbilicus (umbilical cord), and then killing the partially-birn fetus.

She wants to explain how she manages to avoid breaing the law when a live fetus starts to come out whole. "If I'm doing a procedure, and I'm seeing that .... it's about to come to umbilicis, then I might ask for a second set of forceps, hold the body at the cervix, and pull off a leg, or two, so it's not PBA."

Her fellow activists aren't exactly going to gather around her and express their sympathy for how hard it is to stop in the middle of delivering a live baby in order to yank off a limb or two.

Talking about the real flesh-and-blood fetus being dismembered, and the real flesh-and-blood mother hemorrhaging on the abortion table, tends to turn people off of the whole idea of abortion.

Tends to.

Talcott Camp, Deputy Director of the ACLU Reproductive Health Freedom Project evidenly found the NAF event eye-opening but not off-putting.

"I'm like -- Oh my God! I get it! When the skull is broken, that's really sharp! I get it! I understand why people are talking about getting that skull out, that calvarium."

And at some level, Dr. Lisa Harris hopes that there are lots of folks out there like Ms. Camp, who can hear the gory details and still retain an enthusiasm for the abortion-rights cause.

"Given that we actually see the fetus the same way," Dr. Harris says, "and given that we might actually both agree that there's violence in here, ask me why I come to work every day. Let's just give them all the violence, it's a person, it's killing. Let's just give them all that."

She speaks with the confidence that comes from believing that the violence is justified. No doubt her fellows at the NAF meeting agree with her that the violence of abortion is justified. If they weren't able to convince themselves of that, very few of them would be able to stomach doing a second abortion after looking at the mangled human remains produced by the first.

I'd love to see the discourse move in that direction. The entire prolife movement would love to see the discourse move in that direction. Let's by all means look squarly at the violencd that is abortion and ask if it's justified. But there are two groups of people who will never get onto that bandwagon: Those who need to maintain public support for abortion-on-demand, and those who need to keep their businesses afloat by convincing as many women as possible that abortion doesn't involve the destruction of a human being.

NOTE: YouTube keeps yanking the video, so please let me know if I need to go grab another link.

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