This election is making me nuts. I cannot wait until November 6th has come and gone. And not just because we'll be off to (hopefully) warmth and sun in Florida two days later. The bickering and crankiness all over, from TV to social media, is making me crazy. I haven't gone so far as to block anyone on Facebook, but there are people I know to just skip over for the time being. From my perspective, neither candidate is any sort of solution. I may be a registered Republican, but it doesn't mean I agree with Romney on everything. I also don't believe Obama has been the savior everyone thought he'd be. Usually by about this time in the election, I'm almost like, "Let the chips fall where they may...and four years from now we'll see who was right." I felt that way last time, and this time it's much the same. That sentiment may be because I live in a state where my vote doesn't matter anyway--with the electoral college, Obama easily wins New York no matter what. If things ever go to a popular vote, I may care more, but politics in general just make me shut down and run the other way. I should care, and in the end I do, but all of the promises and good intentions mean nothing once someone's in office and dealing with the limitations and politics of the position.
Anyway, what does all of this have to do with the parenting slant of this blog? Well...this morning as I was driving in to work, for some reason I got to thinking about the abortion issue. Obviously, being pregnant at the moment, abortion is sort of a more vivid topic for me. Even when I'm not pregnant, I have an opinion, but being pregnant adds a whole other perspective. In general, my feelings on the issue are that I believe that killing an unborn baby is wrong. I don't even think that's specifically a religious stand--I think that harming any human life is inherently immoral, no matter what deity you believe in (or don't). I think we can all pretty much say that walking up to someone on the street and killing them is wrong. So why is it OK to kill a baby that's still in the womb? Why does being born and taking a breath make a baby more "real" when their heart has already been beating away for nearly nine months?
I can't say that I'm not a little pro-choice...because, after all, there are scenarios I can't even fathom, situations where perhaps my opinion would change if it was happening to me. I also don't think it's wise to ban all abortions and cause women to take matters into their own hands. In school I remember learning about Roe v. Wade and how women would do the back alley, coat hanger abortions when they couldn't get one legally. I don't think that's a good option either, because in this day and age you'll have women drugging, drinking, or harming themselves into an abortion, which isn't good for anyone, including the healthcare industry or society in general. In cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother, I think there are certainly cases to be made, particularly because the mental and physical anguish caused by some of those situations could be so incredibly damaging that it could destroy the mother anyway, taking the baby right with her.
A while back I was intrigued (but ultimately not a fan of) Texas' policy of making women go through a transvaginal ultrasound prior to getting an abortion. I got a couple of those types of ultrasounds when we were going through the fertility stuff last spring. Admittedly, they're a bit invasive compared to a standard ultrasound, but in general it's pretty painless and no worse than a standard OB/GYN exam. I do believe that women should be counseled and educated prior to undergoing an abortion. I think it's important that they understand the risks to their health, and that it's clear that they're aborting a real baby with actual body parts, not just a cluster of cells. I had an ultrasound at just over six weeks, when this baby was TINY (somewhere between the size of a lentil and a blueberry), and it already looked like a baby. And it had a heartbeat. We could see it and we could hear it. That, folks, is amazing. I would have a really hard time aborting a baby upon seeing that. And for a while I didn't understand why Texas would go so far as to mandate a transvaginal ultrasound (instead of a standard one), but now I'm wondering if it's because they're more sensitive and give a better chance and showing the woman what she's aborting. I don't know. I hope it's not just a humiliation tactic. I mentioned in this blog last time I was pregnant about the movie "Juno" and how she decided not to abort when someone told her her baby had fingernails. I often wonder how many other people would have a similar response if they knew just how formed their baby was at any given moment. Some won't have their minds changed for anything, but perhaps with education some might think twice.
At the same time, I'm well aware that nine months is a long time to live with a "mistake" and it's a major commitment, particularly if a pregnancy isn't something you're fully on board for. It's hard work. I am all for women giving babies up for adoption if they can, but I also don't want to see babies born with defects or disabilities because the mother decided she didn't care what she did to her body during pregnancy. I'm not saying those lives aren't worth saving, too, but that's a grayer area for sure because quality of life is a question and the demand for special needs adoption isn't as high. If I was raped, I don't know how I would feel about carrying around a reminder for nine months, just to give that baby away to someone else. There's emotional baggage with adoptions, too, but then again I'm not sure I'd want the baggage of knowing I terminated a real life, either.
Last time I was pregnant I marveled at how miraculous this process is. To think that my body can create and grow a baby, that all the cells know what they need to do to form the various parts...it's mind-boggling. It is, to me, evidence of God's existence. It's just too amazing a process to result from chance. But something that amazed me even further this morning is the realization that science has never created a true substitute uterus. At least, I've never heard of it. And imagine the uses it could have! Infertile women could use them to grow a baby without going through the surrogate process. Imagine if women with cancer could somehow transfer their pregnancy to a mechanical uterus so they could undergo treatment sooner. Think how amazing it would be for scientists to have a front row seat to watch a baby grow from start to finish. But yet...it doesn't exist. It just shows that the uterus is the perfectly created home for a baby, and it's unable to be truly duplicated. If science is yet unable to do that, it makes me think that there's far more to it than science could ever explain, you know? That tells me there's a divine element there somewhere that is beyond human comprehension or ability. We can go to space, see the tiniest objects in the universe, and even create the beginnings of babies from cells...but we still can't sustain them outside a human body until they've grown to a certain point.
Pregnancy is a miracle, possibly the closest we can get to a miracle on a regular basis. I understand that it's not for everyone, and that fact saddens me. There are so many people who can't have children, so to see unwanted ones go to waste is heartbreaking. But like the disconnect between the food on our table and the so-called "starving children in Africa", just because there's an unwanted baby with one woman doesn't mean that it's a simple process to get that baby into eagerly waiting arms elsewhere. I wish that everyone had the same moral convictions as I do, but that's just not the case. It boggles my mind to think that anyone can believe that aborting a baby isn't just another version of murder, but we often tend to focus on what's known and default to that, which is why the mother and her needs normally get precedence over an unborn child. But that life is precious, and the experience of going through two pregnancies really makes me realize that more than ever.
I don't know who will win the election, but I do pray that whoever wins will find a way to maximize the number of happy mothers and children that do result from pregnancy. It's too miraculous an experience to waste.