Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Chang, Eng, and That Abortion Thing

I must have missed this somehow:

In 1829, they were “discovered” in Siam by British merchant Robert Hunter and exhibited as a curiosity during a world tour. Upon termination of their contract with their discoverer, they successfully went into business for themselves. In 1839, while visiting Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the twins were attracted to the area and settled on a 110-acre farm in nearby Traphill, becoming naturalized United States citizens.

Determined to start living a normal life as much as possible, the brothers settled on a plantation, bought slaves, and adopted the name 'Bunker'....

As normal a life as possible? As conjoined slave owners? Yikes.

I guess the part that struck me was that they chose to join an economy that was based on slavery. I suppose I always thought of slave owners as people born into that culture; because that is easy to understand -- they grew up with slavery and naturally continued on as they had been raised. Of course there were the original plantation owners, I just hadn't considered them before.

If you had a little money saved, why not open a dry goods store or a horse painting service or something? Why go straight from the big top to the plantation? There must have been no stigma attached to owning human beings at all. Or maybe the money was so good that a prospective slave owner would squint and not see a human being. "No, I have looked at your potential benefit to me and determined that you must be property."

Course, up North, in an economy that did well enough without forced labor, they were able to look upon slavery for what it was. I guess those differing views were bound to clash; the North saw the unfairness of slavery, but the South depended on it.

And here, coming out of left field, is abortion. Where some pregnant women say, "I have examined your possible impact upon my future and determined you must be tissue." Some people just can't see a human being when it's staring them in the belly button.

Now in Virginia there is an uproar about a bill to require an ultrasound before an abortion. From the NYT:

The original bill did not explicitly mention vaginal ultrasounds, which involve placing a wand inside the body. But it required doctors to offer patients a clear picture of the fetus and a chance to listen to its heartbeat. In the first trimester, when most abortions take place, that requires a vaginal probe, not the “jelly on the belly” abdominal scans done later in the pregnancy, when the fetus is larger.

Abortion rights advocates seized the opportunity. “Akin to rape,” one legislator called the bill. “Asking doctors to commit a sex crime,” declared another. Liberal women’s groups fanned outrage over “forced vaginal penetration,” and Virginia was mocked on comedy shows.

Trying to head off a political debacle, Gov. Bob McDonnell, who is believed to harbor higher political ambitions, said on Wednesday that the bill must be amended “to explicitly state that no woman in Virginia will have to undergo a transvaginal ultrasound involuntarily.” A revised law is expected to pass in coming days — still requiring that a woman have an ultrasound and be offered descriptions of the fetus, but giving her the right to refuse a vaginal probe. Informed consent or legalized rape? Vital help for women, or the deliberate infliction of shame?

It's laughable to call it akin to rape when you consider the planned subsequent procedure. Opponents are so panty-bunched because ultrasound is a real threat. Even though the abortion doctor will try to frame it as non-humanly as possible; there's only so many ways to ask "if you'd like to hear this tissue's heartbeat."

Ultrasound is an attempt to get those involved to unsquint their eyes and see that this is not just uterine property. The living "tissue" that the ultrasound is imaging is a human being. I know that an unplanned pregnancy is a life altering event. It's huge. But so is ending a life in the womb.

Why not give women every possible bit of information regarding this very important decision? An apparatus already exists to smooth the way for squinted eyes. If Planned Parenthood had their way, you'd go from the first call, through the abortion, and on to the recovery room, without ever hearing the word "baby."

I understand many women think this is just a bit of tissue; especially those who have already had abortions. But what if it's a baby? Doesn't just the possibility make it important to give the matter clear honest consideration?