Barry Saunders

Abortion bill isn’t about empowering women – it’s patronizing to them

Fellas, have you ever been walking down the street when you see that your favorite barber’s chair is open and figure, “What the hey. I’ve got a few minutes. Might as well get a little taken off the sides”?

Here’s a question for the ladies: Have you ever done the same thing – stopped like that just because you were passing an abortion clinic – and precipitously ended a pregnancy?

No, and in the entire history of the world – 4.5 billion years if you believe in evolution, 6,000 years if you don’t – nobody else has, either.

Some N.C. legislators seem to think that women who decide to abort their pregnancies do so as blithely as you or I pick up a pack of Nabs when we stop for gas at the Pump & Munch – and that forcing those women to wait a couple of extra days will make them change their minds. House Bill 465 would require that women wait 72 hours before having an abortion; current law requires a 24-hour wait.

‘Not for a single second’

Unlike what I heard one supporter of the bill say last week – that if this proposed law had been in effect 33 years ago, she wouldn’t have gone through with her abortion – the woman with whom I spoke Wednesday said she has never regretted her decision to do it.

“Not for a single second,” Kelsea McLain, 30, said.

She said it was about two-and-a-half weeks from the time she suspected she was pregnant to the time she decided to abort to the time she started taking the medication.

“I called and spoke with my mother, I spoke with my partner, just letting them know what my plan was,” she said. “I was not so much looking for permission, but support. They both supported me.”

Do our legislators really think a bill forcing others in her position to wait two more days would have made a difference?

Of course not. What it would do, though, is put government some place it has no business and presumably make it easier in the future to tighten restrictions on abortions even further. The ultimate goal of every abortion bill is to restrict the practice into oblivion.

Our Republican legislators – you know, the ones who proclaimed their commitment to smaller, less-intrusive government while running for office – insist that the 72-hour wait is about women’s health. Rep. Jacqueline Schaffer, a Charlotte Republican and sponsor of the bill, said – presumably without laughing – “This bill is and has always been about protecting women’s health. This is empowering to people. This enables women to make informed decisions.”

Patronizing

With all due respect, Rep. Schaffer, what a load of ... oops, sorry. The patronizing bill insults women and treats them like little children who can’t decide what to do with their own bodies.

Of the dozen or so women with whom I’ve spoken over the years about their abortions, half said making the decision was agonizing, although not one said they wished they’d reached a different decision. The other half – like McLain – said they knew pretty quickly what they wanted to do.

“It wasn’t so much agonizing as scary, because I’d never had an abortion before,” McLain said. “I knew it was a medical procedure, I knew there were potential complications and I knew there was no really pain-free way out of the pregnancy. ... The hardest parts were the finances and ... dealing with the fact my partner was living in a different state – he was in school at the time – and I knew I was going to have to do it without him.”

McLain said that once she took the two medications to cause the abortion and realized they were working, “I really just felt an overwhelming sense of relief.”

“I don’t look back and go, ‘Oh, what if I had a 6-year-old right now?’ I think about that and it’s terrifying.”

Though McLain said she was “more than happy” to tell her story, discussing something so personal with her still felt intrusive to me.

Shouldn’t passing laws that dictate what women can do with their bodies feel intrusive to our legislators?

Saunders: 919-836-2811 or bsaunders@newsobserver.com

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