Do You Speak the Language?

abortion [uh-bawr-shuh n] • Examples • Word Origin noun

1. Also called voluntary abortion. the removal of an embryo or fetus from the uterus in order to end a pregnancy.

2. any of various surgical methods for terminating a pregnancy, especially during the first six months.

3. Also called spontaneous abortion. miscarriage (def 1).

4. an immature and nonviable fetus.

5. abortus (def 2).

6. any malformed or monstrous person, thing, etc.

7. Biology. the arrested development of an embryo or an organ at a more or less early stage. –

8. the stopping of an illness, infection, etc., at a very early stage.

9. Informal.

1. shambles; mess.

2. anything that fails to develop, progress, or mature, as a design or project.

We’ve addressed before that often the lawmakers writing laws for this country do so with a misunderstanding or misuse or even just an overly broad use of the language in writing these laws. I have stressed that they often don’t consider the broad definitions these laws can reach in legal terms that could be detrimental to the people they govern. I understand that when I’ve said this both in conversation and in blog statements, people often either don’t associate this to their own situations or they don’t fully appreciate what the laws being written mean.

In writing today, I intend to help clarify what’s going on here. Politically, when we hear the term abortion, most anti-choice persons automatically jump to the understanding they have of the term as defined in the first definition line above, a voluntary abortion. A woman goes into a clinic and says I’m pregnant and I don’t want to have this baby and has the pregnancy terminated. Needless to say, they’re all for ending that choice. However, they fail to take into consideration the other definitions listed above from dictionary.com which outline the other meanings of the term. As you can see by that definition however, abortions are not always voluntary. And they don’t always go well. A woman’s body does not always work the way we expect it to. A fetus is not always viable.

Viability is important. It means the ability of the fetus to survive and thrive outside the body of the mother. Often, the body recognizes the lack of viability and spontaneously aborts the fetus. This is the process more commonly known as a miscarriage. It’s amazing to me that SO MANY people do not know that a spontaneous abortion is the medical term for a miscarriage. While working in a hospital, I encountered an angry woman who was there to demand we correct her medical record to say she had a miscarriage because she DID NOT have an abortion. I could not get through to her that the term in her record was correct and that this was the medical term for a miscarriage. I had to send her to Medical Records so they could explain it to her. Finally, they sent her to her doctor to get a full explanation. So therein lies the problem. If people don’t understand that the term they hate and stand staunchly against also applies to something devastating that they can have sympathy for, they don’t fully grasp the meaning of the bills being put forth. They’re supporting the passage of a law they do not fully understand. And by doing so, often supporting it to their own detriment. They don’t understand that the laws they’re supporting and even demanding affect them in a very negative way that could be life threatening.

I often hear stories of women who have had abortions but who are aggressively against them. They generally do not associate the term with what they experienced. When asked about their own abortion, they will often tell you “well my situation was different”. They don’t understand that in the eyes of the law as the anti-abortion laws are written, they are not different. These laws categorize all women with all situations into one category and outlaw abortion for all of them, regardless of circumstances.

About 15 years ago, I married my second husband. Soon after we married, I was admitted to the hospital. I had abdominal pain on the left side that was a deep concern to doctors in the Emergency Department of Shands Hospital in Jacksonville. I was taken to xray to have a trans-vaginal ultrasound to see what was going on. I was pregnant. I had had a tubal ligation 5 years before that so the fetus was not implanted in the wall of my uterus as per the normal process. Instead, it was growing in my left fallopian tube. It had grown to the point that it was too big for the fallopian tube and had ruptured it. I was bleeding internally. There was nothing wrong with the fetus. The problem was with my body. According to the current wording of the current bills proposed the emergency surgery I underwent to save my life would be rendered illegal. They would put the life of the fetus that could not survive outside my body over my own life. They would have required the hospital to allow me to bleed to death rather than perform procedures that saved my life. They would have left my two daughters without their mother for the rest of their lives. TECHNICALLY, I had an abortion.

Last year, my daughter got pregnant. She came to me excited to tell me I was going to be a grandmother. We were very much looking forward to it, but something was nagging at me. Call it instincts. Something wasn’t right. When she reached four and a half months, the doctor scheduled an ultrasound to determine fetal age and possibly find out the sex of the baby. My daughter, being who she is, did not ask any questions. She heard ultrasound and got excited. My warning bells went off….it’s a bit early and if they’re determining fetal age at this stage, something’s wrong.

When we went for the ultrasound, I watched the screen, knowing what it’s supposed to look like and had my suspicions confirmed. There was no fetal movement, nor heartbeat. When the tech stepped out to call the doctor, I asked my daughter if she was even paying attention. She had not so I told her to pay attention when she came back because something is wrong. When the tech came back, she looked again, made notes and I said “something’s wrong, isn’t it”. She said that she was waiting for a call back from the doctor but that she would likely be sending us to the ER. And so it began. Fetal demise; something no woman wants to hear. So we went there to the ER and spent hours there awaiting the OB/GYN on call to notify the ER physicians what their instructions were. We ended up being sent home that night. We were back in the ER twice before it was over; one visit in which her water broke and she had some contractions which stopped before long. For nearly a week, we awaited the spontaneous abortion to complete itself. They would not do a D & C because her insurance, a Georgia Medicaid variation would not cover it unless the life of the mother was in danger. They checked her each time for signs of infection which were the only signs she could have shown that would have allowed them to proceed with the D & C that would have relieved her pain and stress. Because, you see….a D & C is also an abortion.

So for four days, she had to live with the fact that she was carrying a deceased fetus in her body and that it would come out eventually. When it finally did, it did so in her home. She was transported, with the fetus back to the Emergency Room where they checked her to make sure there was nothing else that would have to be done. This horrific story and experience were brought to you by current abortion laws. My experience, and my daughters make us no different than some “trashy woman” the anti-choice movement portrays in their fight to end all abortion. In the eyes of the law, they are all abortions and all will be ended by the language commonly used in these laws. There is no way to separate our experiences from the myth because the term Abortion is a medical term, not a political one. So when those anti-choice activists say they had an abortion but their situation was different, know that it’s not. It’s exactly the same as anyone else’s in the word of law. And if these extremists get their way, healthcare for women will get ugly. There is no other way around it because the authors of these laws are so uninformed that they write them under the assumption that everyone who seeks an abortion is the same and that its ‘killing babies’. It often is not.

Also know that if a woman is seeking abortion after the 20 week mark, only 1.4% of all abortions according to the CDC, there’s a very good chance that it’s because of fetal demise or because the mother cannot survive to full term. Because the chance of complications increases as the gestational age does, doctors are more likely to discourage abortion after that time and offer other alternatives if there are better ones for the issue at hand. That being said, no woman has an abortion no questions asked. They go through a medical interview at every appointment, even an abortion appointment. Doctors want to keep their licenses to practice so they’re not likely going to put the woman’s life at risk unnecessarily. This significantly decreases the number of women having abortions after 20 weeks without there being serious medical issues. If you feel the need to question this, I’d advise you to find yourself some reputable sources.

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