Yesterday, a Salvadoran woman had to have an emergency caesarian section to deliver a baby that had no chance of survival. Here is the horrible reason why it came to this:
A seriously ill woman denied a medical abortion has had a successful cesarean section to deliver a baby that doctors have given little chance of surviving, El Salvador’s Health Ministry announced late Monday.
The 22-year-old woman, known only as Beatriz for privacy reasons, underwent the operation in the afternoon after 27 weeks of pregnancy, the ministry said. Her baby girl was born without a brain.
“No one can say how long she will live,” Morena Herrera of the Feminist Collective for Local Development told The Associated Press. “It was painful to see the little creature. That’s what the grandmother told us, and the doctors confirmed it.”
The country’s Supreme Court last week prohibited an abortion for Beatriz, who suffers from lupus and kidney failure and whose lawyers said the pregnancy was threatening her life. Her plight drew international attention and a ruling from the Inter-American Court on Human Rights that El Salvador should protect her life and help her end the pregnancy.
That’s right. A baby without a brain was given the right to life over the (very fully brained) mother. Have we all lost our minds?
Of course, El Salvador is known as one of the toughest anti-abortion countries in the world. Abortions are almost never considered, but shouldn’t this be a little nudge to the rational thinkers there that maybe a blanket anti-abortion policy can have pretty awful unintended consequences? You would think.
But before we are quick to judge El Salvador for its backwards and barbaric social policies, let’s take a moment to remember that there are serious presidential candidates in the United States who are praying (literally) that our abortion policy looked like that.
Both Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum have, through interviews and legislative pushes, demonstrated that they are firmly committed to outlawing abortion under any circumstances, including when the mother’s life is in danger. A life is a life, they reason – in that simplistic way that only an ideologue can say with a straight face.
Michele Bachmann, when not out right lying about Obamacare or on a muslim witch hunt, did her part to propose several bills in the House of Representatives that recognized the “pre-born” (a nonsense term, meant to play to our emotions, just like “pro-life”) as having equal protection under the 14th amendment. What it was really meant to do was get rid of abortion through subterfuge. And if an embryo is protected under the 14th amendment, then suddenly it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that the mother should be made to suffer if the child could conceivably live.
What’s not being discussed is the VAST differences in subjective quality of life for the two concerned parties. An embryo does not feel (at least not in a meaningful way), but the mother does. The fetus does not fear death or experience existential dread at the possibility of nonexistence, but the mother does. The “pre-born” does not have a network of loved ones and family who depend on him or her for emotional and possibly financial support, but the mother’s does. So what’s going on here? Why the obsession with pre-natal people and total disregard for post-natal ones?
It comes down to the soul. That little, indefinable something. The 21 grams of spiritstuff. Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum are convinced that the soul is imprinted onto the first human cell and that destroying that means destroying a little part of God’s plan. This narrow theological view is then applied to an entire society of people who perhaps don’t share the same idea, but can’t, or won’t, shout as loudly.
It’s time we started thinking about quality of life, and not just quantity. People aren’t content to just exist. We want to live well. Rightfully so. I would rather live in a world that had less people but more happy people. We can also benefit from a great share of resources, and benefit the rest of the planet by our reduced impact. Pro-lifers like to cite some scare statistic like “over 50 million people have been murdered by abortion”, but I bet the animals whose habitats would have been destroyed to make room for them are grateful they never made it past the clump of cells stage. Again, these cells are not people, and while they are “potential people”, that doesn’t entitle them to anything. If that were the case, then we couldn’t even stop there. We would have to give equal consideration to even potential potential people. In that Universe, even having a menstrual cycle would be a tragedy. “There goes your baby brother,” a father would say as his whole family solemnly watches the tampon go down the toilet.
Even though Michele Bachmann shrewdly decided that she can’t win her upcoming election and has decided to pursue her passion of earning millions in the private sector, there will be others out there, waiting, biding their time. And when they stand up, and try, yet again, to chip away at Roe v. Wade or Planned Parenthood or birth control, we must have the intelligence and commitment to rationality to meet their eyes and remember the lessons of El Salvador.