Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Women Sometimes Are our Own Worst Enemies

Especially when it comes to the unthinking dogma about abortion rights on both sides of the political divide.

Take the latest news from California - that two more women have died from infections after using Misoprostol, otherwise known as RU-486:

California Women Die From Post-Abortion Infections

Here's why BOTH sides are stupid.

First of all, make no mistake. Abortion is indeed a safe procedure, compared to other surgical/interventionist procedures and childbirth. The right wing crazies that try to conjure up visions of women are dropping dead in the streets right and left having had abortions are just plain ignorant. If that were the case, women would have been wiped out by now, since abortion -- legal or not -- has existed throughout the millennia. Yet I can already see in my mind's eye women out there who are reading this story and concluding "Oh My God, abortion is unsafe! RU-486 is unsafe". As I said, idjits. Because, as the doctor quoted in the article makes clear:

the risks of death from infection for users of the pill is roughly one in 100,000 uses - similar to the risks of death from infection after surgical abortions or childbirth.

BUT.....that important fact is precisely why I also think that the quoted unnamed source from Planned Parenthood is also just as stupid. That person, rather than acknowledging this important medical fact, chose only to speak about the overall safety of RU-486 rather than confront the reality of these deaths, and advocate that women take better care when using it. That clearly indicates that abortion politics remain more important to rabid pro-choicers than truly taking care of women's health.

Any woman who has actually been pregnant and either carried to term and delivered or had an abortion knows that there is *always* a risk of bacterial infection afterward. It is not a rocket science concept: You open that normally unopen area of our bodies through dilation of the cervix and that risk of infection is just there, same as it is when you get a cut on your hand. You can't get around nature, even as you can, and must, take extra care to avoid it. IME, that risk of bacterial infection is normally fully disclosed to most women either right after they have had a child, or a traditional abortion, if not long before.

Were the women who took misoprostol told as clearly before they went home with their tiny pill bottles? Did anyone call them afterward to follow up, as is often the case with traditional abortion and childbirth?

That's a serious question. Has anyone in the pro-choice community, in the rush to normalize RU-486 (not a bad thing, in and of itself) bothered to take the same pains to warn women who abort using RU-486 about the fact that medication abortion is doing exactly the same thing as childbirth or traditional abortion- and therefore carries EXACTLY the same risk of post-hoc bacterial infection? Even though the process is done using a cute little pill you get to take at home instead of a currette or extractor, or that powerful mother nature in labor, both of which you can contemporaneously feel doing the job of opening the cervix and therefore potentially exposing the inside of your uterus to everything floating around nearby?

This difference in what happens is not an unimportant one. We're a pill-popping culture, by nature. And most people tend to think of pills as Mostly Harmless, largely because the exercise of taking a pill usually creates psychic distance from the chemical processes that goes on inside the body after we take one. My gut tells me that these women were NOT as clearly warned to be extra vigilant for signs of bacterial infection in the same manner as women who give birth or have a more-traditional abortion.

And, if this is the case, the fact that they weren't firmly warned, and followed up with, but instead simply left to their own devices afterward and subjected to sideswiping of the clear medical issue and platitudes about overall safety, makes any pro-choice advocate who does not face this issue just as stupid as the women who will no doubt read about these deaths and go running out with their "abortion causes breast cancer!" placards to face another day. Since, by sidestepping it rather than acknowleding it, the Planned Parenthood speaker makes it sound like it is fact to be avoided.....and therefore there must be Something a way that just stepping up, expressing concern and advocating for better post-procedure educationa and follow-up would not. As I said, idjit. Not to mention hypocrite, since it is supposed to be, first and foremost, about saving women's lives, isn't it?


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