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Waiting for Choice

May 27, 2011

Texas has signed a bill into law requiring that women have a sonogram at least 24 hours before they have an abortion. Already, the defenders of these tactics are waving their hands and claiming that they are just trying to make sure that women understand the choice they are making. One stunningly ridiculous comment was made by a gentleman interviewed by channel 2 in Houston, who said that he hoped women would think for at least 24 hours before having an abortion.

This is what the “pro-life” side thinks of women who have abortions. That they need a waiting period before being allowed to have an abortion. As though there are women out there who go for a stroll one Saturday morning and decide to pop by the local abortion factory for a quick D&E before going to get their hair and nails done. This is the kind of contempt these people have for women. They think women are too dumb to make a choice on their own, too ignorant about their choices to honestly understand what an abortion is, or too sheltered to consider any other option.

That is the reality of the people standing outside the fence. That is what they are really saying when they claim to be there just to “offer information” or “talk about other options.” What they are really saying is that clearly, because a woman has made a different choice than they have, that she must be a careless, stupid, ignorant twit who made a rash decision without bothering to think or do any research on her own. That she peed on a stick, saw the little plus sign, and dashed out have an abortion that very minute. My favorite version of this, though, is when people talk about making sure that the woman is “fully informed.” As if she somehow doesn’t KNOW that there’s a fetus in there. As if she will look at the sonogram and go “Oh, hey, wait… You mean that’s a baby in there? Fuck, I thought I had gas.”

Women understand perfectly well what they are doing when they show up to that appointment. She didn’t make her choice on that morning and call up to see if there had been any cancellations. It starts much earlier, usually right around the time she notices she’s missed her period. She may spend a few days hoping for her period to come, or she may go out and pick up a pregnancy test right away. At some point after she’s sure, she’ll talk to someone. The father, her parents, a friend, a trusted relative or counselor. She may cry, curse, get angry with herself/the father, or all of the above all at once. She may research the options on her own, she may ask for advice from someone she trusts, or she may already be aware of her options. She will spend time weighing the financial, physical, and emotional cost of each option, and come to a choice that is right for her. This is not something that happens in the 5 minutes it takes for the stick to come up positive.

Let me let you in on a little secret. No woman ever really *wants* to have an abortion. No woman seeks out sexual partners, has unprotected sex, and when the test comes up positive thinks to herself “Hooray, I finally get to go have an abortion!” No pregnant woman wakes up one morning and thinks to herself “Meh. I’ve changed my mind, I think I’ll get rid of the thing.” No woman looks down at her chosen form of birth control and decides to throw it away because hey, she could always just go have a complex medical procedure instead.

This law is not about making sure that women are “informed” about what they are about to do. It is not about giving them “time to think.” It is about treating women as if they are too stupid to understand what is happening to their bodies, and making sure that the requirements to have a perfectly legal procedure are too difficult to overcome. If the proponents of this sort of legislation were truly looking to reduce abortions, they would spend more time helping women prevent unwanted pregnancies and less time trying to make a woman’s choice for her.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Veronica permalink
    May 30, 2011 9:57 am

    I love your line “Oh, hey, wait… You mean that’s a baby in there? Fuck, I thought I had gas.” It almost makes up for how angry laws like this make me.


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