The Longer I’m a Mom, the More I Am Pro-Choice

Robin Marty

I’ve had a baby, and I’m pro-choice.  I lost a baby and I’m pro-choice.  I am pregnant after a loss, and I am still adamantly pro-choice.  I doubt that growing any older, or any life experience will ever change my beliefs.

I remember once, when I was twelve or so, I told my mother that there was absolutely no way I would ever have children when I got old.  “I would be a horrible mother,” I explained to her with all of the earnest surety that comes unbidden as an adolescent girl.  “I don’t like dolls, I don’t like to cook, I’d rather go without money than babysit.  Why would I want to have this screaming, peeing thing dependent on me all of the time?”

She smiled at me, telling me that she totally understood, but someday down the road, when I was older and had more life experiences, I shouldn’t be surprised if I change my mind.

Now, here I sit, a mother of one and hoping that by Christmas I will be a mother of two.  But one thing that has never changed is my unwavering belief that each woman should be able to decide when and if she wants to have a child, regardless of the circumstances in her life.

“You’ll rethink your beliefs on abortion once you feel that baby move,” I remember a conservative friend telling me when I announced I was pregnant.  To her, it was impossible to think that you could have a child growing inside of you and think of it as anything but a life.

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In some ways, she was right.  I thought more and more about my assumptions I had regarding abortion.  The longer I was pregnant, the more I experienced what a joy my child would be, and how happy and complete she would make my family.

But lets be honest.  Pregnancy is hard.  It is uncomfortable.  It is awkward.  It is painful, emotional, exhausting and often vomit-inducing.  I was able to work through all of those bad times, which, again, is a majority of pregnancy, knowing that this is what I needed to do to have the addition to the family we wanted so badly.

I couldn’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to have to experience all of those moments – the sickness, fatigue, elbows and feet in my bladder, or the even worse issues I managed to avoid like diabetes, preeclampsia, or even bed rest, all while not wanting the child that was living inside of you.   To be forced to go through the pain, the stress and the sickness not out of joy, but because you had to, because someone else made that decision for you, because someone else wanted that baby and that person’s opinion, wants and needs mattered more to the world than what you wanted for yourself.

Pregnancy didn’t change my views on abortion, but made them stronger.

“You can’t still be pro-choice.  You had a miscarriage,” another woman told me months ago, when we discussed all of the ways our losses had affected us.

I understood somewhat where she was coming from.  In the world that I was exploring, full of support for women who had conceived and lost, or had difficulties conceiving at all, to hear that I wrote about abortion rights was a bit of a shock to many who want nothing more than to have a healthy take-home baby. 

But just as pregnancy and motherhood made me more adamant about a woman’s right to choose for herself, my miscarriage also reinforced my beliefs.

I found comfort in the medical terms of “products of conception” and spontaneous missed abortion.  From the point in which we realized that the heart had stopped beating, my only thought was that something had died inside of me, and that I desperately and with every fiber of my being needed it to be removed.  It wasn’t a baby.  Although I was nearly 12 weeks what was inside of me was only the size of a grape, and yet I was still helpless and in panic.  It had been dead for weeks, maybe, and could be there for weeks longer, and without the aid of a doctor it was just going to stay inside me, festering, for who knew how long.

That I needed medical permission to remove it was galling to me.  The baby was dead and my body had betrayed me.  Now I had to undergo surgery just to make it end.

No one should ever lose a wanted pregnancy.  Although the physical pain was minimal due to the D&C, the emotional pain was nearly viscous.   No one should be forced to carry on with something unwanted inside their body, asking for permission to have it removed, to have your life back to normal, to start again.

I want to be in a world where everyone who wants a child can have one, and no one who doesn’t want a baby ever gets pregnant.    But until that happens, I need to fight for a world where abortion is an option, because pregnancy should belong to those who want to be pregnant, and not be forced on someone against her will because she has no other options.

I’ve had a baby, and I’m pro-choice.  I lost a baby and I’m pro-choice.  I am pregnant after a loss, and I am still adamantly pro-choice.  I doubt that growing any older, or any life experience will ever change my beliefs.

News Abortion

Anti-Choice Leader to Remove Himself From Medical Board Case in Ohio

Michelle D. Anderson

In a letter to the State of Ohio Medical Board, representatives from nine groups shared comments made by Gonidakis and said he lacked the objectivity required to remain a member of the medical board. The letter’s undersigned said the board should take whatever steps necessary to force Gonidakis’ resignation if he failed to resign.

Anti-choice leader Mike Gonidakis said Monday that he would remove himself from deciding a complaint against a local abortion provider after several groups asked that he resign as president of the State of Ohio Medical Board.

The Associated Press first reported news of Gonidakis’ decision, which came after several pro-choice groups said he should step down from the medical board because he had a conflict of interest in the pending complaint.

The complaint, filed by Dayton Right to Life on August 3, alleged that three abortion providers working at Women’s Med Center in Dayton violated state law and forced an abortion on a patient that was incapable of withdrawing her consent due to a drug overdose.

Ohio Right to Life issued a news release the same day Dayton Right to Life filed its complaint, featuring a quotation from its executive director saying that local pro-choice advocates forfeit “whatever tinge of credibility” it had if it refused to condemn what allegedly happened at Women’s Med Center.

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Gonidakis, the president of Ohio Right to Life, had then forwarded a copy of the news release to ProgressOhio Executive Director Sandy Theis with a note saying, “Sandy…. Will you finally repudiate the industry for which you so proudly support? So much for ‘women’s health’. So sad.”

On Friday, ProgressOhio, along with eight other groupsDoctors for Health Care Solutions, Common Cause Ohio, the Ohio National Organization for Women, Innovation Ohio, the Ohio House Democratic Women’s Caucus, the National Council of Jewish Women, Democratic Voices of Ohio, and Ohio Voice—responded to Gonidakis’ public and private commentary by writing a letter to the medical board asking that he resign.

In the letter, representatives from those groups shared comments made by Gonidakis and said he lacked the objectivity required to remain a member of the medical board. The letter’s undersigned said the board should take whatever steps necessary to force Gonidakis’ resignation if he failed to resign.

Contacted for comment, the medical board did not respond by press time.

The Ohio Medical Board protects the public by licensing and regulating physicians and other health-care professionals in part by reviewing complaints such as the one filed by Dayton Right to Life.

The decision-making body includes three non-physician consumer members and nine physicians who serve five-year terms when fully staffed. Currently, 11 citizens serve on the board.

Gonidakis, appointed in 2012 by Ohio Gov. John Kasich, is a consumer member of the board and lacks medical training.

Theis told Rewire in a telephone interview that the letter’s undersigned did not include groups like NARAL Pro-Choice and Planned Parenthood in its effort to highlight the conflict with Gonidakis.

“We wanted it to be about ethics” and not about abortion politics, Theis explained to Rewire.

Theis said Gonidakis had publicly condemned three licensed doctors from Women’s Med Center without engaging the providers or hearing the facts about the alleged incident.

“He put his point out there on Main Street having only heard the view of Dayton Right to Life,” Theis said. “In court, a judge who does something like that would have been thrown off the bench.”

Arthur Lavin, co-chairman of Doctors for Health Care Solutions, told the Associated Press the medical board should be free from politics.

Theis said ProgressOhio also exercised its right to file a complaint with the Ohio Ethics Commission to have Gonidakis removed because Theis had first-hand knowledge of his ethical wrongdoing.

The 29-page complaint, obtained by Rewire, details Gonidakis’ association with anti-choice groups and includes a copy of the email he sent to Theis.

Common Cause Ohio was the only group that co-signed the letter that is decidedly not pro-choice. A policy analyst from the nonpartisan organization told the Columbus Dispatch that Common Cause was not for or against abortion, but had signed the letter because a clear conflict of interest exists on the state’s medical board.

News Politics

Missouri ‘Witch Hunt Hearings’ Modeled on Anti-Choice Congressional Crusade

Christine Grimaldi

Missouri state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) said the Missouri General Assembly's "witch hunt hearings" were "closely modeled" on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans' special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life.

Congressional Republicans are responsible for perpetuating widely discredited and often inflammatory allegations about fetal tissue and abortion care practices for a year and counting. Their actions may have charted the course for at least one Republican-controlled state legislature to advance an anti-choice agenda based on a fabricated market in aborted “baby body parts.”

“They say that a lot in Missouri,” state Rep. Stacey Newman (D) told Rewire in an interview at the Democratic National Convention last month.

Newman is a longtime abortion rights advocate who proposed legislation that would subject firearms purchases to the same types of restrictions, including mandatory waiting periods, as abortion care.

Newman said the Missouri General Assembly’s “witch hunt hearings” were “closely modeled” on those in the U.S. Congress. Specifically, she drew parallels between Republicans’ special investigative bodies—the U.S. House of Representatives’ Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives and the Missouri Senate’s Committee on the Sanctity of Life. Both formed last year in response to videos from the anti-choice front group the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) accusing Planned Parenthood of profiting from fetal tissue donations. Both released reports last month condemning the reproductive health-care provider even though Missouri’s attorney general, among officials in 13 states to date, and three congressional investigations all previously found no evidence of wrongdoing.

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Missouri state Sen. Kurt Schaefer (R), the chair of the committee, and his colleagues alleged that the report potentially contradicted the attorney general’s findings. Schaefer’s district includes the University of Missouri, which ended a 26-year relationship with Planned Parenthood as anti-choice state lawmakers ramped up their inquiries in the legislature. Schaefer’s refusal to confront evidence to the contrary aligned with how Newman described his leadership of the committee.

“It was based on what was going on in Congress, but then Kurt Schaefer took it a step further,” Newman said.

As Schaefer waged an ultimately unsuccessful campaign in the Missouri Republican attorney general primary, the once moderate Republican “felt he needed to jump on the extreme [anti-choice] bandwagon,” she said.

Schaefer in April sought to punish the head of Planned Parenthood’s St. Louis affiliate with fines and jail time for protecting patient documents he had subpoenaed. The state senate suspended contempt proceedings against Mary Kogut, the CEO of Planned Parenthood of St. Louis Region and Southwest Missouri, reaching an agreement before the end of the month, according to news reports.

Newman speculated that Schaefer’s threats thwarted an omnibus abortion bill (HB 1953, SB 644) from proceeding before the end of the 2016 legislative session in May, despite Republican majorities in the Missouri house and senate.

“I think it was part of the compromise that they came up with Planned Parenthood, when they realized their backs [were] against the wall, because she was not, obviously, going to illegally turn over medical records.” Newman said of her Republican colleagues.

Republicans on the select panel in Washington have frequently made similar complaints, and threats, in their pursuit of subpoenas.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), the chair of the select panel, in May pledged “to pursue all means necessary” to obtain documents from the tissue procurement company targeted in the CMP videos. In June, she told a conservative crowd at the faith-based Road to Majority conference that she planned to start contempt of Congress proceedings after little cooperation from “middle men” and their suppliers—“big abortion.” By July, Blackburn seemingly walked back that pledge in front of reporters at a press conference where she unveiled the select panel’s interim report.

The investigations share another common denominator: a lack of transparency about how much money they have cost taxpayers.

“The excuse that’s come back from leadership, both [in the] House and the Senate, is that not everybody has turned in their expense reports,” Newman said. Republicans have used “every stalling tactic” to rebuff inquiries from her and reporters in the state, she said.

Congressional Republicans with varying degrees of oversight over the select panel—Blackburn, House Speaker Paul Ryan (WI), and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Fred Upton (MI)—all declined to answer Rewire’s funding questions. Rewire confirmed with a high-ranking GOP aide that Republicans budgeted $1.2 million for the investigation through the end of the year.

Blackburn is expected to resume the panel’s activities after Congress returns from recess in early September. Schaeffer and his fellow Republicans on the committee indicated in their report that an investigation could continue in the 2017 legislative session, which begins in January.

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