On Mental Health Exemptions

Has anyone noticed the "required exemptions" for abortion bills seems to be getting narrower and narrower without much comment from TPTB?  It used to be, even in the most restrictive anti-abortion bills, you could count on there being an exemption for "rape, incest, and health of the mother."  But these days, it's more like "rape-rape (but not date rape or grey rape or whatever they're calling it these days), incest if the victim is under 18, and life of the mother but only if two separate physicians declare medical emergency."  Rape has become a negotiable term in these bills, thanks to H.R. 3.  Incest exemptions are narrowing to minor victims of incest and excluding adult incest survivors, also thanks to H.R. 3.  And most dramatically different, it's gone from "health of the mother" to "life of the mother", and the threshold for proving risk to the mother's life has gone up and up.  This last has happened more and more on a statewide level (the pro-forced-birth battleground of choice), where bills have repeatedly been passed that contain no exemption for the health of the mother, or which specifically disallow mental health from being considered a health exemption.

Cause you know those tricksy wimmenz.  They lie, you know.  And those sluts will totally lie about some emotional distress bullshit if it gets them their abortions, yep yep.  They'll say anything, won't they?  We can't trust women who claim that continuing a pregnancy will result in harm to their mental health, they're just saying that to get that abortion.  We all know mental health doesn't really count as health-health, amirite?

Well, here I go into personal story land again.  I am a woman with a mental illness - well, one diagnosed one, and symptoms of another one but I can't afford to see someone for it - and I am also a woman who has had an abortion.  And you're damn right considerations of my mental health factored into the decision to have an abortion. 

[TW for depression, forced pregnancy, suicidal ideation]

Because let's look at this.  Take a woman who is (especially at that time) suffering from moderate to severe depression complicated by anxiety.  Who has decided she does not ever want children, no seriously, she's not going to change her mind, she has thought about this and doesn't want kids.  Who also has some admittedly strange anxiety issues around the process of pregnancy and birth.  Who has a history of suicidal tendencies.  Now, if that woman becomes pregnant, and is told that she cannot obtain an abortion, but instead will be required to carry to term a pregnancy she does not want, and give birth to a child she does not want, what do you expect to happen?

I can tell you exactly what would have happened.  Setting aside the possibility of illegal abortion or doing it oneself for the moment, had I truly been faced with a reality in which I would have no control over my body and be forced to give birth, something I know without a shadow of a doubt I NEVER, EVER want to do, I would have rather killed myself than gone through with it.  I would have seen no other option.  Rather than be forced to have a baby, I would have chosen death at my own hand.  This is not an exaggeration.

To those who advocate stripping mental-health exemptions from abortion restrictions: do you know what it is you're really doing?  I know conservatives hate this word, but try out some empathy real fast.  Imagine being a woman who doesn't want to have a baby, but who is pregnant.  Imagine you're staring down the barrel of nine months of pregnancy, followed by childbirth.  Imagine you're facing the kinds of drastic physical changes pregnancy imposes on the body - on your body - against your will.  Imagine you're facing physical risks including permanent physical illness, disability, or even death.  Imagine you're facing labor and birth, a deeply trying experience by all accounts, one which, again, carries substantial risks.  I have one word for you: episiotomy.  Imagine you're facing the emotional trial of either completely rearranging your life and plans and goals and dreams to accommodate a baby, or giving it up for adoption and always wondering, always being haunted by what happened to it.  Adoption is not an easy decision to make, nor does it come without cost for the vast majority of biological mothers.  Your life has been turned upside down, and you are being denied the ability to control what happens to you.  This is your body, and you are suddenly being told that, because of a broken condom or failed birth control or a bad decision, you are no longer in control of it.  The state, and a fetus you don't know and don't want, own your body and you have no say in what is done to it.  Imagine the stultifying horror of that realization.  Then compound that with a vulnerable mental/emotional state caused by mental illness, pregnancy hormones, and suicidal tendencies. 

Now, having imagined all that, look me in the fucking eyes and tell me straight out that you you still think it's a good idea to remove the mental health exemption and force a woman who could easily become a danger to herself to have a baby against her will, because her mental health doesn't warrant an exemption from your law.

And if, after all that imagining and empathy and descriptive horror, you can still say you want to remove mental health exemptions from life/health of the mother exemptions...you are clearly lacking a crucial element of human compassion and should not be allowed within a mile of decision-making authority over other beings, not even a goldfish, much less other human beings. 


CaitieCat said...

Good post. And I'll offer hugs, if you want 'em.

Jadelyn said...

Thanks, Caitie. I hadn't realized how difficult it would be to write all that out, to be honest. Hugs gratefully accepted. :-)


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