Monday, April 6, 2009

Personhood USA -- Fetal Rights vs. Mothers Rights

I hope everyone has filled out their Birth Survey. It is ongoing, so if you haven't done so, please do. It's a small way you can make a huge difference. It will take about 20-30 minutes of your time.

Debra Pascali-Bonaro, the director of "Orgasmic Birth", posted this link on her Facebook. I found it to be incredibly powerful and thought-provoking. I wanted to share it here. It is titled "How Personhood USA & The Bills They Support Will Hurt All Pregnant Women."

On a personal note, I have always considered myself to be anti-abortion. I obviously love babies! I've determined that the majority of people do not believe abortion to be a good thing to do. This topic was addressed at the Controversies in Childbirth Conference last weekend in several talks and panels. When you realize how fetal rights interfere with a woman's right to make choices for herself and her baby, you simply cannot condone the anti-abortion laws. They contradict one another.

Let me explain a bit further: If a woman is told her baby is too big (or a number of other examples) and the doctor is recommending a C-section -- for the safety of the baby -- the mother potentially loses her rights because the fetus's life has more value, according to Personhood USA. The doctor is seen as the expert and therefore holds all the power. The mother looses her power to decide for herself. Her baby's life has more protection than her own.

A close friend was telling me about her mother having an abortion many years ago in order to save her own life. It was a devastating event. Under Personhood USA, the fetus potentially has the right to live, regardless of the mother's medical condition. Had the laws provided protection for the baby over the mother, my friend, along with her 3 siblings, potentially could have lost her mother.

Women should be informed of all their options and the implications of their decisions -- and then allowed to make their own choices -- whether that means to have a homebirth, a VBAC, an epidural, or even an elective C-section. She has the rights to make those choices. It's a shame that women have to fight to give birth the way they want to, worrying about the legalities surrounding her birth and the possibility of having a most likely unnecessary surgery forced upon her.

I believe in choice. I believe that our Founding Fathers of this great country intended for us to have the freedom of choosing what is in our best interest, not just for us, but for our families. I do not want to see doctors having more control over how women birth their children. You can imagine how the C-section rate would climb even higher with more states enforcing this Bill.

I don't believe that with the current President and Congress holding power in the U.S. that we will see this widespread, but it is happening around the country, as mentioned in the five states in the story. The implications are more far-reaching than it appears when you first hear about the bill. Fetal rights sound great until you realize how it takes away the rights of the pregnant woman.


Alisa said...

wow- it will be interesting to see what those choices bring.

Lena said...

I believe that both the right of the child to live and the right of the mother to make choices as a parent can be protected. It can be a fine line but I think both the birth preference and a child's life can be protected. I'm not big on child's rights because it usually takes parental responsibility away and I am NOT for that, but abortion is in a totally different category in my opinion. You don't have to give up on one cause to support another- that's a scare tactic and a savvy one at that.

Donna Ryan said...

I added more information and examples of why this Bill is a huge problem for pregnant women, if you are interested in rereading it!

Lena said...

I still hold to what I say. I also believe in choice- but many people abuse that and then create a life and THEN want to undo the choice that they made instead of dealing with the consequences. I don't believe that abortion itself should be illegal- but there are certain standards that I think need to be set and conditions under which it is appropriate- such as when the life of the mother is in danger. I still don't think that fetal rights and parental rights have to be mutually exclusive. You just have to get someone with a brain to write the bill. That will be hard to find in government. I'm generally for a small government with few regulations but partial-birth abortion or abortions where the baby is born alive and left for dead are in my opinion unacceptable. I wish the government wouldn't do these all-inclusive bills that are just wrong for all parties.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your other commenter, Lena. I adamantly oppose abortion! It should never have been made available for the purpose it currently serves. It's purpose now is to "UNDO" a choice they already had and have sex. Abortion has nothing to do with "rights" anymore. All it does is supports the idea that you don't have to take responsibility for your actions. I don't know statistics but I would bet my life that 90% of abortions are unmarried women b/w ages 15-25. What does that tell us? These are not rape victims or victims of life threatening conditions regarding birth. They are irresponsible, lazy, selfish individuals. Period.

As far as this new bill, it is a joke. It is yet another way for the government to "CONTROL" our lives. Again, I believe it has nothing to do with the "rights" of either the mother or the baby. It is all about control. This is another very obvious example of the road our country is on. We will soon not be able to use the bathroom unless someone says we can. It is the same thing with taxes. The government takes OUR money and we have NO SAY whatsoever where it goes. But I agree with you. I doubt our "abortion happy" president will let this go too far. After all, as Nancy Pelosi said, 'the more abortions people have, the more money the government saves.' Seems like a win/win for them. Sickos.
Regardless, murdering (yes, murdering) a child, born or unborn should be unacceptable to EVERYONE.

Sarah said...

My initial thought is that I don't have the whole story, so it is hard to agree or disagree with this video. Are the bills that poorly written, or are the courts, hospitals, etc. misinterpreting them?

It seems to me that most adamant supporters of choices in childbirth are also adamant supporters of abortion, which on the surface seems logical--they're both about women's rights. But the idea shows a total imbalance: that only the woman should have a right to life.

The implication of the video is that at least some places, the opposite imbalance is happening: that of giving the baby's rights total priority above the mother's. I personally don't believe one should be over the other.

I also strongly believe that we do not do well to play God in any of these cases; deciding who lives and who dies. If one looks hard enough, one can find many examples where the mom or baby was supposed to die and somehow, neither happened. We just don't know everything. Only God does.

How's that for a comment, Donna?!

Donna Ryan said...

These are all excellent comments. Thank you for sharing for viewpoints. It's definitely a hot topic to think about and "debate."

I just want to be absolutely clear that I do not support abortion. I am with the rest of you -- I believe it is used the majority of the time to undo a mistake -- an "easy" way out, with lasting consequences often not thought about at the time.

My main concern, and reason for posting this video, is how it will affect birth, including homebirth. Homebirth is going to become more of an issue in the months and years to come because the AMA has joined up with ACOG in its opposition to homebirth.

Let me give an example: I regularly have women who take my class that switch from OBGYNs to CPMs to have an out-of-hospital birth. I have had women tell me about their conversations with their doctors, asking how they felt about homebirth, or even an intervention-free birth. You can imagine all the horror stories that ensue. Ultimately, they are always told that birth taking place outside of a hospital is unsafe and she is risking the life of her baby.

If a woman still chose to give birth with a midwife, at a birthing center or at home, could the doctor "come after her," saying that he advised her that she is putting her baby's life at risk? I am playing devil's advocate, but it is certainly food for thought.

Lena, I'm with you, hoping that if the people have a brain who are writing these bills, it won't come to this. I just want people to realize how fetal rights issues affect women's rights.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the arguements offered by the commenters is that if we say that someone does not have the right to terminate their pregnancy, then how can we give women the right to refuse unwanted medical care. If the refusal of a c-section means that the baby will die, then isn't that the same thing as terminating a pregnancy?

Lena said...

No- those are completely different things. COMPLETELY. And someone medically and gramatically savvy could easily put that into words. Unfortunately there are so many people who try to scare women on both sides of the issues into thinking they have to be all or nothing on this issue and it just isn't true.

Allegra said...

I don't see this as an abortion pro or con issue. It does speak to the insensitive, unfair, and frankly immoral nature of legislating a one size fits all approach for all patients of any kind.

eulogos said...

I think mothers have a right to make decisions for themselves and their babies, such as how to birth them.
I don't think they have the right to kill them.
Choosing a birth path a doctor thinks is less safe is not a decision to kill the baby.

I think I have a right to let my kids swim in the local swimming hole, the way all the kids in that neighborhood have done for years. CPS thinks they have the right to tell me not to. They say one of my kids could drown. (This happened to me in the past.) Thats sort of the same as a doctor saying that this woman's baby is too big, she has to have a C section. He is making a different prudential judgment than she is, but she believes her baby will be safe, she doesn't intend to kill him or her. I believe in the woman's freedom to make such judgments. Eventually if many women make these judgments for themselves, a baby will likely die as a result...but the woman will not have deliberately killed him, she will have made a mistaken judgment. And parents make mistaken judgments all the time and sometimes sadly, kids are harmed. (Doctors of course made bad judgments as well.)

None of this is the same as deliberate killing. Once the mother decides to have someone kill her unborn child, the presumption that she is deciding in his best interest goes away.

And NO, it is not true that "it would be better for him not to live in such circumstances." It would never be better not to live!

This is how I make this distinction, so I can support birth choice, but not the choice to kill the unborn.
Susan Peterson