Right now, thousands of women and their supporters are descending upon the Texas Capitol, clad in orange, wielding clever signs, and prepping for a hell of a fight.
Right now, my daughter is prepping for tonight's birthday festivities. She's 7 today, and the biggest choice she has to make right now is how big of a piece of cake she wants.
Right now, I'm on the couch fighting off a bit of a panic attack because today is also The Day. The day that everything in my life changed. The day that difficult decisions went from "what color do we paint the kitchen" to "my 20 week pregnancy is failing, what do we do?"
In 2008, on the day of my girlchild's second birthday, I was wrapping presents when I felt something weird happen. I was 20 weeks into a difficult pregnancy and was immediately alarmed at the warm gush that struck, unprovoked, as I leaned over to tape the edge of a present. After a frantic trip to the hospital, a follow-up with my OB, and a referral to a perinatologist, it was confirmed. My water had broken. Devastated is not an accurate word.
The perinatologist performed his ultrasound silently, and then pointed out small pockets of fluid. "All that's left." "Lungs can't grow." "less than 10% chance of carrying two more weeks" "pregnancy not viable" "you could turn septic" "Terminate." Words and phrases flew at me faster than I could comprehend. He was on the phone scheduling the termination when I finally found my voice. "Stop," I said. "Hang up the phone. I don't choose to terminate. I DON'T CHOOSE TO TERMINATE."
The doctor thought I was crazy. But I had made a choice. My baby was healthy, even though my body was acting like a jerk. I would see things through naturally, for as long as I could. If my baby's health deteriorated, or if my health did, then we would revisit the decision. We had four weeks until viability. (Isaac was born at 28 weeks, lungs tiny but fully formed, health precarious for quite some time, and now a typical nutball kiddo starting Kindergarten in the fall.)
Now, every woman is not as fortunate as I was to be able to make that kind of choice. Circumstances much more dire than mine require decisions and choices everyday. Politicians want you to think these choices are black and white, good or bad, yes or no, but that's not always the case. How could it be?
Not too many months after my own agonizing decision, my friend Holly was faced with one of her own. Her daughter was diagnosed in utero with CDH (congenital diaphragmatic hernia). Her doctors all advised her to terminate, but Holly needed more information before she could make that choice.
I want you to take a minute to read this next part very carefully…. If the laws that Texas Republicans are trying to pass were in place at the time Holly needed to make a decision, she and her husband would not have had time to gather all of the information they needed to make a fully informed choice. That's right – the law that Texas Republicans want pushed through during this second special session would have encouraged Holly to terminate her pregnancy, because she would have had to make her decision before the 20 week cut-off. But because she had time to research and talk with other doctors and parents, Holly was able to continue her pregnancy, seek the medical interventions her daughter needed, and is now the mama to a whip-smart, charming four-year girl.
Did your brain just explode?
These are just two examples of how complicated women's decisions can be. The state of Texas does not need to be legislating these choices. It is, in fact, illegal for the state to do so. And yet our legislators press on. The amount of people trying to cram themselves into my uterus is both astounding and horrifying.
Please don't let politicians trick you into thinking these restrictive laws are for the safety of women and babies. Please don't let them propagate the lie that these are all straightforward decisions; that women faced with these choices are irresponsible and need the state to hold their hands and lead them down the righteous path.
If Texas cared about women and children it wouldn't have the highest rates of poverty. It wouldn't be slashing healthcare. It wouldn't be destroying education. It wouldn't be leading the country in lack of sex education and family planning measures.
For the sake my daughter, your daughter, my sons, your sons, our future as a society, and the future of the state of Texas, please don't be fooled by ill-informed rhetoric and sloppy legislating.
Texas women will not stand down.
2 thoughts on “Let’s talk about nuance”
Thank you for this. It’s the perfect illustration about why the choice is so important.
I cannot thank you enough for posting this. I have a close friend who received an awful diagnosis at her 20 week ultrasound and in the weeks that followed, she and her husband had to make the choice whether to terminate or continue. Ultimately, they chose to continue, even though they knew their son wouldn’t survive (he did not). Having the time to think things through and reflect on their decision gave them space and time to accept their fate, and come to peace with it, but I shudder to think what a law like SB5 might have done instead. Life is so multi-faceted and Texas lawmakers don’t seem to, or care to, realize that.