There are laws dictating that pregnancy begins before you even have sex. Really.
I’m considering having sex this weekend. So, according to lawmakers in eight states, that means I might be pregnant. That’s right. I can get pregnant up to two weeks before I even have sex. No, I am not a superhero with a magic womb, nor am I a farm animal (note to Terry England: Really, I am not a farm animal), I am just a woman in the U.S. watching my right to choose get stripped away one moon cycle at a time.
Despite the fact that I am totally uninterested in making a new human and, at 35, have used my completely functional lady-brain to decide to take a birth control pill every day – it seems that my eggs’ desire to get fertilized is so strong that the mere thought of having sex five days from now means that if I happen to get pregnant, I already am.
Luckily, we have Planned Parenthood to break it down – at least we do for now. Michelle Steinberg, Planned Parenthood of Arizona lobbyist, was quoted in the Tucson Citizen calling the law the country’s “most extreme piece of anti-abortion legislation.” She explained that it defines pregnancy in a way that bans abortion two weeks before the other seven states with similar, restrictive laws. It calculates gestational age starting with the first day of the woman’s last menstrual period rather than the date of conception. Meaning, even if you haven’t had sex since your last period, you could still be pregnant.
Not only is this ridiculous, it’s dangerous. Many women don’t learn that their fetus has a severe or life-threatening problem until an ultrasound is given around the 20th week of pregnancy. This law would prevent these women access to abortion should they learn that the fetus (planned or not) has a disease that will cause death in the womb or at birth.
But, really, if it’s good enough for a pig…
Georgia state Rep. Terry England (R-Auburn) made headlines last month when he compared pregnant women carrying stillborn fetuses to term to livestock. England is quoted as saying: “Life gives us many experiences…I’ve had the experience of delivering calves, dead and alive. Delivering pigs, dead or alive. It breaks our hearts to see those animals not make it.”
That bill, quickly and aptly nicknamed the “Women as Livestock Bill,” criminalizes abortion after 20 weeks, with no provisions for rape or incest. It was passed last month.
Current law allows abortions up until the point of viability – defined as the time when a fetus could reasonably survive on its own outside of the woman’s womb (many medical experts estimate that to be from 22 to 24 weeks). Current law also allows abortions after 24 weeks to protect the “life or health of the woman.” The problem here is that “health” isn’t really defined.
Most reasonable people will agree that forcing a woman to give birth to a dead baby will negatively impact her health. What about forcing a woman who gets raped?
The way things are going in this country, I’m not taking my rights for granted. I’m planning for the future, so, if you’d like to give a shower gift, I’ll be registered at Planned Parenthood indefinitely. One never knows when they might be pregnant.
Image: Gaga M13