I don’t know how many of you are keeping up with the political circus that is the last few weeks (it’s pretty hard to avoid) but I know I can’t really ignore it since I live in our nation’s capital, where everyone is obsessed with politics.
This Open Letter to Sarah Palin by Lynn Paltrow of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women was a refreshing bit of logic in the last few weeks of fury around this Republican VP candidate.
Your last pregnancy, the one that has become the topic of widespread discussion and speculation provides an important opportunity to demonstrate how this could be true.
According to press reports your water broke while you were giving a keynote speech in Texas at the Republican Governors’ Energy Conference. You did not immediately go to the hospital — instead you gave your speech and then waited at least 11 hours to get to a hospital. You evaluated the risks, made a choice, and were able to carry on your life without state interference. Texas Governor Rick Perry worried about your pregnancy but didn’t stop you from speaking or take you into custody to protect the rights of the fetus.
After Ayesha Madyun’s water broke, she went to the hospital where she hoped and planned to have a vaginal birth. When she didn’t give birth in a time-frame comfortable to her doctors, they argued that she should have a C-section. The doctors asserted that the fetus faced a 50-75 percent chance of infection if not delivered surgically. (Risks of infection are believed by some health care providers to increase with each hour after a woman’s water has broken and she hasn’t delivered).
The court, believing like you that fetuses have a right to life, said, “[a]ll that stood between the Madyun fetus and its independent existence, separate from its mother, was put simply, a doctor’s scalpel.” With that, the court granted the order and the scalpel sliced through Ms. Madyun’s flesh, the muscles of her abdominal wall, and her uterus. The core principle justifying an end to legal abortion in the U.S. provided the same grounds used to deprive this pregnant and laboring woman of her rights to due process, bodily integrity, and physical liberty. When the procedure was done, there was no evidence of infection.
According to the press reports, instead of going straight to a hospital you chose to get on a long airplane flight back to Alaska.
Paltrow goes on to make the important connection between anti-choice fetus rights activism and women’s ability to control how, when and by what means they give birth. Paltrow, as usual, is right on. Read the rest of the letter here.
Hi. I read the letter in full and had a question. I googled the names of the women Ms. Paltrow used in the letter to Sarah Palin, and it seems that all of the incidents mentioned in the letter happened in the late ’80’s and early ’90’s. Are there no more recent incidents to be used as examples? Is this something that happened a lot 20 years ago, but is more rare now? That seems to me to be a weak point in her argument. Thanks for clearing the matter up for me. Jen
I’m pretty sure it’s still happening. It might be that those cases are older because they are ones that NAPW has litigated.
C-section rates are only increasing, and laws are becoming less friendly to midwives. VBACs are being banned by hospitals, and interventions are increasing. All of this leads me to believe that what Paltrow argues is still true, even if its not being reported as effectively.
Obstetricians, Health Attorneys, and Court-Ordered Cesarean Sections
This is one recent research article, from 2006, that says, “It still happens.”
Interesting … thanks for asking the question though, I needed to do a little digging …