Personhood

Roe v. Wade: Personal Responsibility Means Making the Tough Decisions

Thirty-nine years ago Roe v. Wade acknowledged a woman was the best person to make decisions about her own body, pregnancy and whether or not to choose to have a child within the first trimester. But the decision, lambasted by many conservative politicians, is much more than a ruling that says women will have the right to make their own decisions about whether they have a child. It is a decision that allows women to take personal responsibility that supersedes a state’s attempts to decide for her. It is one of the toughest decisions a woman will make, with life-changing consequences.

With Roe v. Wade, the courts recognized I was best positioned to make the decisions that would impact my life and those that depend on me. The courts recognized women were adults, capable of taking responsibility for the decisions in our lives. However, there are some who want to take away my right to decide whether or not I should go through with a pregnancy. These people who know nothing about my life or who I am want the right to impede my ability to decide for myself if I should give birth to a child. They believe this is a simple “moral issue” that the state should be allowed to decide –  a choice based on general information. This is evidently, in their eyes, the same for everyone and as basic as whether something is black or white.

I do not think Roe v. Wade goes far enough in protecting women’s rights. We can chat about that on another day. In the meantime, allow me to remind you that…

1. If I have a baby I am the one who carries it. This means any child I carry is impacted by my health and impacts my health.

2. If I have a baby, I am the one who is responsible for the care of the child.

Roe v. Wade: Personal Responsibility

If you expect me to be responsible for the child, shouldn't I be responsible for the decision to have the child?

3. Care for a child is not just about whether or not I can love the child; it is also about whether or not I can be there emotionally, physically or spiritually for a child.

4. Can I afford to take care of the child? Do I have the earning potential to house, feed, clothe and educate the child in a way that does right by them?

5. Having a child ties you to another person permanently. A child wouldn’t be just mine but also the father’s. This decision is not just about me, so apply numbers 2-4 to the father too.

What confounds me is that the same people who want government to decide whether or not I have a child want that same government to stay out of building safety nets for families who need support. If you feel government should promote personal responsibility, but not the funding of community programs, shouldn’t that personal responsibility extend to making one of the biggest decisions of a woman’s life? And if you expect me to be responsible for the child, shouldn’t I be responsible for the decision to have the child?

If you are going to trust me to be responsible for raising a child shouldn’t you also trust me with the responsibility of the decision whether or not to have a child?

Santorum’s Struggle with Personhood and Choice

This morning I read an article about how Rick and Karen Santorum went through a terrible health scare in 1996. It involved their unborn child, in the second-trimester, and making a decision to save Mrs. Santorum’s life at the cost of carrying a fetus full-term. I feel badly that this family had to go through this experience; I am sorry Mr. Santorum had to make an incredibly difficult, heartbreaking and personal decision based upon the well-being of his wife and their family. Mr. Santorum had to make medical decisions that resulted in choosing the life of his wife’s over the possibility that his unborn child may live. The concept of  “personhood” was real for the Santorums, it was personal, and it was medical. It was not mandated by law in 1996.

Rick & Karen Santorum

Rick & Karen Santorum - Image by Gage Skidmore

This is something I find interesting… Mr. Santorum’s decision to save his wife’s life, while difficult, was a choice he had. It could have gone the other way. He could have chosen to test “fate” or “faith” and have the doctors treating his wife not induce labor and try to keep the fetus and his wife alive through the pregnancy.

I am sorry Mr. Santorum had to make such a difficult choice – to save Mrs. Santorum’s life they had to induce labor of a fetus that doctors told him would not survive outside the womb. In the second trimester, there are three abortion procedures used, one is an Induction Abortion. I am sorry incredibly private decisions they made about their family and a medical crisis has become fodder for the public. However, I am glad that at the time, they were able to could make a medically sound decision, a private choice and without government interference.

If Mr. Santorum’s desire to have state and federal “personhood” laws go into effect, he has signed on to support this, it would mean that any products and activities that kill or destroy human beings “at any stage of development” will be murder, as long as it was an innocent “human”. This would include inducing labor, when the doctors specifically state that the fetus cannot survive outside the womb, to save a mother’s life. And that would have meant that Mr. Santorum’s painful and personal decision to save his wife’s life and keep their three children’s mother alive would not have been his to make at all. Rather it would have been the government’s.

It’s a shame it appears hypocrisy, pandering and power-mongering is winning over practical life experience.