Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Roe v. Wade v. Texas legislators

Hal Pepinsky, pepinsky@indiana.edu, “Peacemaking” at pepinsky.blogspot.com
January 22, 2013
                Many are the news segments on this 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  None has been so moving to me as Terry Gross’s interview with Texas Observer reporter Carolyn Jones about the Texas sonogram law (http://www.npr.org/2013/01/22/169059701/we-have-no-choice-a-story-of-the-texas-sonogram-law).  Ms. Jones describes the “information” the doctor who performed her abortion was required by Texas law to show her and describe/read to her while performing a sonogram just 24 hours before the operation.  The doctor already had the two sonograms confirming that Ms. Jones fetus had a genetic failure of spinal development so severe, that if the fetus survived, would produce a short life of unremitting pain.  Ms. Jones’s husband was  present.  Ms. Jones described trying to get away from the relentless litany that included medical misstatements, in a prolonged script.  As she turned away toward the nurse, the nurse turned up the volume on the music to drown out the doctor’s voice.  After the procedure, the doctor apologized for having done what the law required “or I’d lose my license.”
                Terry Gross asked how the procedure made her feel.  In the several seconds of silence, I said “angry!” softly but out loud.  I know that’s how I felt.  Ms. Jones acknowledged that the story she has told in the Texas Observer was inspired by the feeling that she had of being surrounded by a team who shared her anger that legislators should dare presume to intrude in what was already her moment of grief and disappointment…of kicking her when she was down.
                I concede the honest good will of do-good Texas legislators and of the female director of a “normal” Texas family planning clinic who doesn’t provide condoms but does provide counseling for women grieving after abortions.  But to them and to all of us including myself who seek to things to other people for their own good, that forcing people to know what’s good for them may breed the kind of anger that helped make women and I’m sure a lot of male partners and brothers show up to vote for President Obama.
                Granting mothers and doctors privacy on what women do to their own bodies is not just a matter of being nice to mothers.  It is also impractical in its personal and political consequences.  As my parents made me repeat to them time and again as a boy, “aggression begets aggression.”  Put another way, disrespect for privacy breeds disrespect.  Love and peace--hal

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