Anti-abortion advocate degrades & demeans mental health issues in pregnant women

I’ve just finished listening to this very disturbing hour on Diane Rehm.

About midway through the edition, the anti-abortion advocate from the Family Research Council (the group that anointed Ken Blackwell as a senior fellow), Cathy Cleaver Ruse, completely, totally and unbelievingly – in the wake of what we know now about the VaTech shooter and his mental health problems – devalued and discounted the role of a woman’s mental health status when choosing to have a legal medical procedure.

What did she say:

Ruse was seeking to make her point that partial birth procedures are never medically necessary to save the life of the mother and that they are performed on healthy women.

To make this point, Ruse referred to health statistics from the state of Kansas (which you can see here, and I have reviewed), the only state that has kept stats on partial-birth procedures. Then, she indicated that in 1999, 182 partial birth procedures were reported to have been performed in Kansas. Then, she emphasized that in all those instances, according to the report, physicians indicated that the major bodily function that would have been impaired if the procedure was not performed would be mental, not physical.

So – to Ruse, mental health needs are not needs at all, and certainly not health needs. Want to tell that to the parents of the dead from Virginia Tech?

The fact that Kansas even provides such a distinction tells us what Kansas thinks about mental health issues as well.

And would Ruse rather have the women who are experiencing mental health issues go on and have their babies and then kill the children themselves?

Or would Ruse champion the money and the cultural changes necessary to provide such women with all the care they need? I didn’t hear a word about that.

Also noteworthy and disturbing, coming from a woman who is supposed to be representing a bastion of family values:

Ruse and Kate Michelman got into it regarding family planning. Ruse was stating her belief that the existence of 1.3 million women who have abortions is evidence that society has failed those women and needs to support them. So Michelman quickly chimed in: then support family planning.

At which point, the host, Susan Page, said to Ruse, does the Family Research Council support family planning?

To which Ruse replied, the Family Research Council doesn’t take a position on family planning.

O.M.G.

Michelman then fleshes out Ruse’s answer for the audience as to the FRC’s take on family planning: the FRC opposes access to contraception, opposes comprehensive sex education and opposes access to emergency contraception.

Last but absolutely not least, the final caller finds yesterday’s SCOTUS decision to be an abomination because, according to her, the United States military has told personnel to abstain from having babies for at least two years after service in Iraq because of the use and presence of depleted uranium. (I’ve been unable to find any information on that, however, you can read more about DU problems currently here, and more generally, here and see here for what it supposedly does to babies.) This caller’s concern was the double injury here: by the DU and then the possibility that the mother will be prohibited from legally terminating the pregnancy if we do not re-double our pro-choice efforts.

I’ve never given to Planned Parenthood before, I bet there are a lot of women who are daughters and mothers like me who, now, are going to be giving for the first time.

4 thoughts on “Anti-abortion advocate degrades & demeans mental health issues in pregnant women

  1. I’ve never given to Planned Parenthood before, I bet there are a lot of women who are daughters and mothers like me who, now, are going to be giving for the first time.“I know what you mean. I already give to Planned Parenthood, and I’ll probably start contributing to the Center for Reproductive Rights. I just joined JPFO for the first time. I hate to sound crass, but this week has probably been a fundraising bonanza for interest groups on both sides of the abortion and gun control debates.

  2. Here and here are two blog entries that, read together, explain why 1999 statistics for partial birth abortions were cited by Ruse. They also explain why the Supreme Court decision will probably have little to no effect in Kansas.

  3. Ruse referred to health statistics from the state of Kansas (which you can see here, and I have reviewed), the only state that has kept stats on partial-birth procedures. Then, she indicated that in 1999, 182 partial birth procedures were reported to have been performed in Kansas. Then, she emphasized that in all those instances, according to the report, physicians indicated that the major bodily function that would have been impaired if the procedure was not performed would be mental, not physical.So – to Ruse, mental health needs are not needs at all, and certainly not health needs.Let’s consider a little scenario. A woman in the sixth month of pregnancy is a candidate for a partial birth abortion. There is no physical reason for the abortion. She goes to her sympathetic doctor who asks, “Your pregnancy is making you feel anxious, right?” The woman replies, “I guess so, or I wouldn’t be here.” The doctor says, “So, your pregnancy is making you anxious. And anxiety is a mental health impairment. Therefore, you’ve given me health grounds to justify your abortion. You may have it.” In other words, merely seeking an abortion can constitute proof of a mental health impairment from a continued pregnancy.Do you think the scenario I’ve sketched is outlandish? Does anyone seriously believe that an abortion provider could not reach a finding of “mental health impairment” for anyone seeking an abortion?The fact that all 182 partial birth abortions in Kansas were based on mental health reasons strongly suggests to me that many (most?) of those abortions were justified by a “health impairment” equivalent to the desire to have an abortion. I would also suggest that this is an abuse of the health impairment exception.I would further suggest that many defenders of partial birth abortion have used health impairment as an excuse for achieving their real end, which is partial birth abortion on demand. Of course, if those who desire that end were honest enough to admit it, they might be less likely to achieve it.Finally, I would expect that Ruse would not subscribe to “mental health needs are not needs at all, and certainly not health needs.” Rather, I think she recognizes the gaming of the system that I’ve described.

  4. Re: “So – to Ruse, mental health needs are not needs at all, and certainly not health needs. Want to tell that to the parents of the dead from Virginia Tech?”First of all, abortion and the tragedy at VT are not the same thing. Second, if there were physical health issues, clearly the abortion would be allowed for even under this ruling. There would be no alternative if the survivability of the mother would come in to question. But if there are no physical health concerns, only mental health concerns, then there is an alternative… It is called adoption.

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