Can I get a task force on this?

The governor of Missouri has organized a task force to examine “how abortions affect women” — and unsurprisingly, he’s stacked it full of anti-choice activists. There’s not a single pro-choice person on the team.

While Gov. Blunt’s team is looking at abortion, perhaps they should examine pregnancy, too and report on how that impacts women. I mean, should we really be encouraging this?:

Our typical patient becomes aware that he has contracted the disease when he experiences extreme fatigue, accompanied by nausea and vomiting. These symptoms diminish after a few months, as his abdomen begins to distend. Pressure on his bladder requires that he urinate frequently. He feels hot and sweaty, and has headaches and dizziness. As his digestive tract slows, he becomes constipated and suffers heartburn and hemorrhoidal symptoms. His weight increases by twenty per cent, with most of the gain centered in his abdomen, altering his balance and causing strain and discomfort in his lower back. His breasts, ankles, and feet swell, and his legs cramp. His mobility, his sleep, and even his breathing are impaired as his abdomen expands to twice its normal circumference. Stretch marks appear on his thighs, chest and abdomen. The ligaments in his hips and pelvis soften, and he develops sciatica, causing tingling and numbness.

After nine months, he feels the onset of intense, intermittent pain, accompanied by diarrhea and nausea. His pain increases and accelerates over approximately 15 hours as his genital opening, usually the size of a pencil lead, is stretched to a diameter of 10 centimeters. Surgical incisions are used to facilitate the opening of his genitals. His pain may require general anesthesia, but usually can be managed through other methods, such as injections in the fluid surrounding his spinal cord. He is encouraged to reject pain medication entirely so he can remain alert to assist in the treatment of his disease. The incisions and tears in his genitalia are closed with internal and external sutures. His breasts continue to swell, and his nipples become sore. Healing of his genitals takes about six weeks, during which time his pain may be relieved by sitz baths, heat lamps, ice packs, and anesthetic sprays. Finally, he has a heavy bloody discharge from his genitals, lasting several weeks.

Results may vary. Our typical patient is fortunate that he does not develop diabetes (a risk of about 3 per cent); dangerously high blood pressure (a risk of about 7%); clinical depression (a risk of about 15%); or require open abdominal surgery (a risk of about 25%). Even with abdominal surgery, he runs only a minor risk of death (.02%).

The “should we be encouraging this” question is sarcastic, obviously. The point isn’t that pregnancy is terrible and we should all avoid it; rather, it’s to illustrate that reproductive choices are not all walks in the park, and pregnancy in particular is painful, physically trying, and potentially health-threatening. Pregnancy can be great, but it should be entered into voluntarily. And all the hand-wringing over the effects of abortion is a smokescreen for wanting to control women’s bodies and force them to give birth against their will. If we actually want to take a look at how reproductive choices effect women, I’m all for it — but let’s not pretend that abortion is the end-all be-all of reproductive choice, and that pregnancy is a simple, easy process that is always less physically and emotionally scarring than termination.

As Jill Morrison, senior council for the National Women’s Law Center writes:

Although the “findings” of the abortion task force are preordained (abortion=bad), wouldn’t it be more accurate and honest to give the women of Missouri a full picture of the relative risks and benefits of abortion and its alternative? If the task force isn’t willing to do this, claiming that its goal is the betterment of women’s health just doesn’t pass the laugh test.


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18 comments for “Can I get a task force on this?

  1. November 5, 2007 at 5:08 pm

    Not only that, but the patient can expect all kinds of restrictions on his behaviour. There’s a university overseas that would like to interview me in a couple weeks. No airline is going to be letting me fly.

  2. November 5, 2007 at 11:10 pm

    Gah, yes, the flight restriction. It is directly due to the flight restriction that I had to live with my parents for six weeks at the end of my second pregnancy.

    This may seem like a minor inconvenience or annoyance – it was neither. Over the course of those six weeks my blood pressure went from 120/70 to 200/105 – an automatic emergency C if I had admitted it to my OB. It resolved within three days of moving out.

  3. November 6, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Yeah, isn’t that excerpt from the judge’s opinion fantastic? Unfortunately, the decision was overturned…

  4. trishka
    November 6, 2007 at 2:47 pm

    let’s not forget another lovely (fortunately rare) side effect of pregnancy – permanent nerve damage in the pelvis, resulting in lifelong peripheral neuropathy, aka numbness & tingling in the feet. peripheral neuropathy is what people suffer when they get shingles, as a point of reference.

    i love my kid more than anything in the world, but pregnancy has it’s consequences. :(

  5. josh
    November 6, 2007 at 5:50 pm

    its easy enough not to need an abortion, dont get pregnant. and how can you speak for a study that isnt complete? i guess the same way i know that anyone from the National Women’s Law Center is gonna spew a bunch of liberal whining

  6. Luna
    November 6, 2007 at 10:39 pm

    *snort* “Don’t get pregnant”. Stupid troll. Go play in traffic.

    Pregnancy is brutally hard for some people, and dead easy for others. Same with abortion. Seems pretty simple to me.

  7. November 7, 2007 at 2:07 am

    An abortion task force. I mean, what does Matt Blunt think he is going to get out of it, besides the very obvious misogynist propaganda coming from the anti-choice puppets?

    Matt Blunt is just like his old man, isn’t he? Very anti-woman.

  8. josh
    November 7, 2007 at 7:22 am

    how and why is it inconceivable to not get pregnant? i know there are special cases, and i accept that abortion is part of todays world.

    i just dont agree that abortion should be used to avoid responsibly for ones actions.

  9. micheyd
    November 7, 2007 at 9:35 am

    i just dont agree that abortion should be used to avoid responsibly for ones actions

    Abortion *is* responsibility for one’s actions. So is choosing to continue a pregnancy. Women can make these things called “decisions” too, you know?

  10. November 7, 2007 at 11:10 am

    i just dont agree that abortion should be used to avoid responsibly for ones actions.

    So…if you’re ever in a car accident, you’re going to be refusing help from the EMTs who show up, right? Because, really, you knew when you chose to get in the car that there was a possibility you’d be injured in a crash, and getting medical aid for those injuries would be refusing to accept responsibility for that choice, right?

    I said, right?

  11. The Fish
    November 8, 2007 at 12:48 am

    Huh. I just got pregnant and let me tell you: I am SO much more pro-choice because of it. NOBODY should suffer through this crap unless they are volunteers.

  12. josh
    November 8, 2007 at 7:10 am

    i doubt i refuse help if i’m in a wreck.

    but if i plan to do high risk driving i will have a car with a roll cage, wear my seat belt, and a helmet.

    i just feel there are a lot of options other then abortion.

  13. micheyd
    November 8, 2007 at 9:25 am

    i just feel there are a lot of options other then abortion.

    No, there’s only one other option. Continuing the pregnancy. Which isn’t what every woman wants or is capable of.

  14. November 9, 2007 at 1:06 pm

    i doubt i refuse help if i’m in a wreck.

    What? But–you knew when you got in the car that you might be in a wreck! And you chose to get in the car anyway! How can you be so irresponsible? There are other people who might be dying because the ambulance is there treating you instead of helping them!

    but if i plan to do high risk driving i will have a car with a roll cage, wear my seat belt, and a helmet.

    I’m sorry, where did you get the idea that, in my example, you were doing any “high-risk” driving? I’m talking about getting in the car to go to the store. You know, putting on your seatbelt like a sensible person, but then skidding on ice or hydroplaning or just having the car break down.

  15. josh
    November 11, 2007 at 12:27 pm

    ok Jill, you got your task force, what do you think of the results

  16. Taylor
    May 20, 2008 at 9:09 pm

    I love how they refer to the pregnancy paitent as a ‘he’.

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