Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Supreme Court case I'll be watching

New Hampshire passed a parental-notification law in 2003. A federal appeals court struck down that law because it doesn't provide an exception for pregnant teenagers whose health is in danger (the law did offer exceptions when the young woman's life is threatened): According to the New York Times, the court ruled "that even if most pregnant teenagers do not have health problems requiring a termination of pregnancy, the law's requirements, which include a 48-hour waiting period after parental notice, pose an undue burden on a large fraction of those who suffer from such conditions as eclampsia or premature membrane rupture. Consequently, the law was unconstitutional, the appeals court ruled."

The state of New Hampshire has appealed to the Supreme Court, which has agreed to hear the case. NH "is arguing that a teenager with a health problem can go before a judge, who can take health into account even though the statute itself does not mention it. The First Circuit found this argument inadequate, noting that the judicial process, even expedited as the statute requires, can take up to two weeks."

Two weeks? Hmm, yeah, that's too long. I say this as a woman who had preeclampsia when pregnant. Those folks who say pregnancy is a natural process that shouldn't be medicalized are clearly not the ones who had medically complicated pregnancies. Without a team of medical specialists dedicated to keeping me and my pregnancy going, presumably my pregnancy would have eventually been fatal. From this very personal perspective, I oppose any burdens put on a pregnant woman (adult or teen) that require her to continue pregnancy, because sometimes—not always, but definitely sometimes—pregnancy poses a serious risk. It is just plain wrong to require a woman to take on that risk if she is unwilling to do so.


Charlie said...

I simply do not understand the people who make a distinction between "natural" and "unnatural" when it comes to medicine. How can we have come so far in the last 100 years or so only to turn our backs on what got us here? Don't they know how many women died in child birth? How much longer our lives are? Why would you possibly want to go back to the "natural" way of doing things when it's obvious that if everyone did it, those things would return too?

thenutfantastic said...

Women still die at an alarming rate from childbirth and the younger the woman/girl is, the greater the risk to her and the unborn child. To say, "Hey, it'll take 2 weeks but so what? She and the baby can just hang in there 'til we do this the 'right' way."

My placenta ruptured (thankfully)the same day I lost my mucus plug. That cannot wait 2 weeks 'til the justice system jumps through their hoops. I ended up having an emergency c-section where I was knocked completely out as there was no time to anesthize local parts of my body. Where in there would I have been able to call up the courts office, make an appt to appear before a judge and then 2 weeks later get on with the 'naturally' abortive process? These laws are so stupid.

And this is a new way to think about waiting periods...I had not fully realized the complications part of the pregnancy into the equation.

Anonymous said...

The "naturalness" of childbirth is totally irrelevant to whether abortion should be legal -- it's the clear fact that a woman is an ACTUAL living being, a fetus is only a POTENTIAL living being. That's why the antiabortion stance is not "pro-life" but anti-life.

And "because God said so" doesn't cut it. A faith-based argument has no place in determining the laws of a nation.

Can you tell this is a sore point?

Orange said...

Absolutely, Stella. But what we're getting at with mentioning "natural" vs. medicalized pregnancy is that pregnancy can be deadly and dangerous, and that's a key reason that safe, legal abortion is vital. Any third parties who think a woman should be compelled to continue a pregnancy don't get a vote in the matter—it is the woman who is facing the risk, actual or potential, and therefore it's her decision whether she wants to accept that risk.