Disclaimer

This blog is not intended to provide legal advice, legal services or legal anything else. Don't sue me. All I have is debt anyway.

Friday, June 29, 2007

A liberal blog

Somewhere, someone's thinking I shouldn't get to take communion for this, but here goes:

I don't believe Life begins at conception. I believe the Possibility of Life begins at conception, and that conception is the key-turning-into-the-lock that activates human development, setting into motion all of the genetic material needed to form, develop and grow a Human Being. But that doesn't mean one will develop.

The rates for spontaneous abortion in the first trimester are anywhere from 15% to 25%, depending on the statistical analysis. Doctors generally don't even begin prenatal care until the 9th or 10th week because of the high rates of miscarriage. The risk of miscarriage does not go away after the first trimester, but only lessens. Beyond the 20 week mark, fetal death is called "stillbirth" and still occurs with frequency. Health, genetic and environmental factors make a difference in fetal viability, but even in "perfect" conditions, it often "just happens."

Moral of the story: I'm not getting overly attached to something that may spontaneously abort itself from my uterus. Does that sound cold? I'm just being realistic.

I am excited about being pregnant. I told everyone when I found out at 5 weeks, knowing full well the risk of miscarriage. And if I'd had a miscarriage then, or if I have one now, I'll be disappointed. I'm looking forward to being a mom, looking forward to there being a baby to snuggle in January, to first words and first steps, to Santa Claus, to the first day of school, to ball games, to school dances, to graduations, to weddings, to grandchildren.

But I won't be devastated, mourning the death of my baby, because there isn't a baby. I'm 13 weeks pregnant. We're a long way from Junior receiving the Nobel Prize or getting elected President or just reaching the milestone of viability outside the womb. While I certainly am looking forward to a healthy baby, it's just not one yet. It has a long way to go.

Being pregnant and hearing a fetal heartbeat hasn't changed my opinion on abortion rights. I don't support the legality of abortion past viability, and viability is always subject to change with new advances in medicine, but I don't think it's murder to abort in the first trimester any more than I think birth control is murder (another strike against me as a Catholic). I believe women should have access to safe and legal abortions and the choice should be theirs. But I don't really have a quarrel with people who disagree and believe that life begins at conception. If that's your belief, then that's what you believe (I just don't think people should legislate their beliefs and prevent others from doing what they believe is right). The people I do have a quarrel with are those who are against women having safe and legal first trimester abortions, yet want exceptions for women who are carrying the product of rape or incest, which is apparently the majority of those opposed to abortion. The philosophy behind it has nothing to do with whether or not "life begins at conception" but rather in punishing women for choosing to have sex. It's okay to force pregnancy on a woman who was the whore of Babylon and got knocked up (and obviously is too stupid to use birth control), but those women who "didn't do anything wrong" shouldn't be punished by being forced to give birth. If people are okay with abortions for women who are raped (because if you really believe it's murder, you wouldn't be), then why is abortion not okay for women who just don't want to be pregnant?

So, yeah, just don't feel comfortable calling a 13 week fetus a "baby." When it reaches viability, when it can survive outside the womb, then it'll get a promotion.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Babies and Law

Bean over at Lawyers, Guns & Money has had a few posts on the recent developments of prosecuting pregnant women for endangering their unborn children. (I have also linked to an interesting article on the same topic in the sidebar.) On the surface, this sounds like a great idea right? How many crack babies are born each year? Babies with fetal alcohol syndrome and such? But the matter is much much more complicated than a blanket "pregnant women go to jail for endangering the health of their unborn children" law can provide. As with most reactionary laws, it sounds good on paper but is horrendous in practice.

Women with drug addictions and alcohol addictions need serious medical treatment, something that jails can't provide. And sure, being in jail might prevent a woman from using, but being in jail can just as easily endanger the life of both mother and child. Stories about women being refused medical attention and giving birth, alone, in a dirty cell, have been recently publicized. It seems like a more compassionate solution would be rehab rather than a prison cell.

But another concern is, what constitutes endangerment? Just drug and alcohol abuse? One mother was prosecuted for murder after her child was stillborn, because it was claimed that she waited too long to agree to a caesarean during a complicated pregnancy. So where does the liability end? Pregnancy is risky even when it's normal. There's a very high risk of miscarriage in the first trimester, and some risk remains for the rest of the pregnancy. A perfect pregnancy can go wrong very quickly, and experts are still baffled as to why. Women who smoked a pack a day, and drank during pregnancy can have perfectly normal children, while a woman who lived by What to Expect When You're Expecting, gained only 25 pounds, exercised regularly, etc., can have a child with birth defects, or worse, can lose not only the child, but her own life during pregnancy and delivery. A murder charge requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt that someone's actions caused the death of another.

But where does it end? Doubting women's medical decisions (even if they turn out ultimately, and tragically, to be wrong)? Not taking prenatal vitamins? Coloring her hair? Gaining too much weight during pregnancy (even when it's not because the woman ate four cheeseburgers a day)? Not gaining enough (maybe prosecuting women with eating disorders)? Eating sushi (surely we can't prosecute the entire nation of Japan)? Eating not-reheated lunch meat? Or having the occasional half-glass of wine after the first trimester? All these things are considered "risks" but whether any of it would make a real difference is doubtful.

All in all, the criminalization of poor prenatal choices makes me uncomfortable for many reasons. Not just because I am making, and will continue to make, several choices that many people believe constitute proto-child abuse (i.e. eating sushi, drinking small amounts of caffeine, eating lunchmeat and I will definitely be coloring my hair next week). It's sad to think that a person might suffer a disability because of choices their mothers make during pregnancy. But policing prenatal care is dangerous ground, even when the prenatal choices are in fact risky.

Monday, June 25, 2007

A Midsummer's Update

Okay, so it's a little past midsummer, we're now into the downhill approach towards fall semester.

What's been going on:

1. Morning sickness (gross);
2. Afternoon sickness (gross);
3. Night sickness (even more gross);
4. Fatigue;
5. Weight loss of 5 pounds (from all the throwing up);
6. Trying to show up to work, do work and not throw up on anyone (so far successful);
7. Done with the first year of law school, and done with the first trimester of pregnancy.

So far, so good, although the nausea has not miraculously disappeared as promised by those who have gone before me, and those who write books about pregnancy. I'm also waiting for the miraculous surge of energy promised for second trimester. Liars, all of them.

The job is going quite well though. The work is insurance defense, and the summer is quite laid back. The atmosphere is casual, and we get to go on fieldtrips, such as going to depositions and mediations. Nothing too strenuous, and the hours are flexible. I am quite grateful for the opportunity to throw up in the comfort of my own bathroom, as opposed to in the garbage can in my office.

Grades came in a few weeks ago, and they were better than I had expected, so I am pleased about that. I also realized I really had no interest in being on journal, as I hate all things to do with journal, so I decided to focus my efforts in other areas. I am International Law Society President for the upcoming year, as well as an officer in the Women's Law Caucus. There's moot court and trial advocacy board, which I am much more interested in excelling in. And finally, there's my sanity, I'm really attached to it.

Not so pleasant news is that student health insurance sucks. Even getting a good grade in Contracts doesn't make up for the fact that they employ teams of lawyers to find ways to completely screw over their insureds, making you believe that "100% maternity coverage" means, well, 100% maternity coverage. Oh no. That would be too simple. Fortunately, we're switching to a different insurance company in the fall that will hopefully not make it a priority to screw me over. They were trying everything possible to deny the entire claim anyway, so I guess I'm lucky they're paying anything at all. Moral of the story: health insurance sucks. All of it. They only exist to screw you.

Really, that seems to be about it. Nothing really eventful pregnancy-wise, and things are going good law-wise. So that's that.