Saturday, December 14, 2013

Like a Cancer

My heart just aches for those patients who work so hard to get in remission, then out of nowhere the cancer comes roaring back.

Depression is just like that. 

I hate being married to a chronically depressed person who blames me for his depression.  It sucks BIG TIME.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Acrania: Not a Parasite

Hello, cyberspace!  I haven't ranted to you all in quite awhile.  Not that I am living rant free, but I am becoming a more peaceful, grounded person (thanks, yoga!) and I don't really have time for my blog what with trying to get my career off the ground and all.  So, there's that.

But what I heard yesterday really, REALLY irritates the hell out of me.  For many years I was a moderate pro-lifer.  I was also very, very ignorant about embryonic/fetal development, all the things that go wrong every day, and what abortion really involved.  Oh, I thought I was well-informed, but really I was just well-propagandized.  It wasn't until I started studying anatomy/physiology/embryology/fetal development that I ever bothered to seek out information from across the aisle in a meaningful way.

I say "in a meaningful way" because, being the well-educated person that I am, I had at various times in the past started to investigate the pro-choice position.  Every single time, however, I was turned back by the (at best ignorant, but probably) stupid, self-righteous, over-the-top rhetoric on the other side of the aisle.  Not that there is not a TON of (at best ignorant, but probably) stupid, self-righteous, over-the-top rhetoric on the anti-abortion side- there is.  But I thought that if I had to err on one side or the other, I would go pro-life until partial birth abortion wasn't a thing, or technology made early abortion widely available.

Surely, I thought, no person who is truly pro-life could be anti-birth control, morning after pill, or early abortion technology that could terminate a pregnancy long before brain development made fetal thought/feeling a possibility.  Sadly, I was very wrong.  :(

So, I became pro-choice, especially when the anti-abortion party wanted to both end access to contraception AND defund programs to help born children, like food stamps, Head Start and access to health care.  Abandoning infants once born is way, way, WAY WORSE than ending a pregnancy before an embryo/fetus has the possibility of conscious thought or feeling.  Both options are way worse than allowing a woman the ability to avoid conception entirely. Who ever could have guessed that the party that called itself pro-life would actually be the party of hunger/illness/ignorance/abandonment for every child NOT lucky enough to be born rich!?! I never would have guessed that was where the so-called "pro-life" party was heading.

Okay, enough foundation laid, on the the title of this post. Acrania/anencephaly is actually one of the more common birth defects. Most end in spontaneous abortion. Some hang on.  It is a development problem wherein no skull develops. Brain tissue floats around in amniotic fluid where it is broken down by the enzymes therein and eventually completely eradicated.  The only part of the brain that survives is the brain stem, located deep in the interior region of the head continuous with the neck.

The brain stem only controls the automatic nervous system: respiration motion, heart beat, maybe persistalsis,  but not sure on that last one.  All thought and sensation require a cerebrum and cerebellum, which do not exist in an anencephalic fetus and won't exist long in a fetus with acrania, because soon that fetus WILL BE anencephalic. No ifs, ands, or buts.  That's reality people, and the occurrence in gestation is estimated at 1 out of every 1000 births.  At birth (dead or alive, just those that make it to delivery) the incidence is closer to 1 out of every 4700 deliveries.

No thought has ever been possible in such a fetus.  No sensation has ever been possible in such a fetus. The longest any such delivered fetus has ever lived is ten hours.  Hospice care (palliative care) is the only treatment available, and that is for the grieving parents.  For the non-sentient fetus, there is no comfort.  On the other hand, there is no discomfort either.  It is  brain dead, with no hope of recovery because it is missing the huge majority of its brain.

I understand that.  No brain= no thought or sensation.  It's not a hard concept.   A person is considered brain dead when the only part of the brain that functions is the brain stem.

But a brain dead fetus is NOT a parasite! Don't insult the intelligence of the American people with this ridiculous rhetoric, pro-choicers.  It makes you look stupid and totally de-legitimizes your point.

A parasite is a separate living being (check) which feeds of a host (half a check here, I get your point) but that is a) not the offspring of its host and b) can move to a new host for a new food supply at will.  A mosquito, a leech and a tick are all parasites.  A baby is an different thing entirely.

A baby who is brain dead is still a human deserving of reverence and respect.  It's passing, which happens in the womb as its brain is destroyed by amniotic fluid, is a tragedy.  Should abortion be an option for a woman carrying a brain-dead baby? Absolutely!  Should abortion be an option for a woman carrying an embryo with no cranium (and no brain yet) who will never truly live (have a functioning brain that can feel, experience consciousness, move at will)?  Absolutely!

But this pro-choice tech with whom I spoke yesterday, she completely undermined my faith in her intelligence, the judgement of the people who hired her, and in the moral integrity of the pro-choice movement.  Shame on her! Shame on whoever taught her this insulting vocabulary.  THIS is the reason so many women of my generation could not identify ourselves as pro-choice.

When I commented to her, "The brain stem is the only part of the brain left, right?  It's still there because the heart is beating", this tech indignantly turned on me and emphatically stated, "No! It has no brain! The placenta is keeping the heart beating!  It's nothing but a PARASITE!"

Okay, first of all, fuck you for your self-righteous demeanor.  Don't assume you know anything about me and my opinions on abortion, simply because I am trying to clarify my understanding of the situation scientifically.  If I wanted to be treated that way, I'd still be in church.

But fuck you again for being involved in fetal/maternal medicine and telling me the placenta keeps the baby's heart beating.  Any one of my several textbooks will easily prove you wrong, but what about experience and reality?  If the placenta keeps the baby's heart beating, then no fetus would ever expire in the womb unless the placenta was a) detached from the uterus (placental abruption) or b) the placenta just stops working (which I have only heard of happening in post-term infants or in some heavy smokers close to term,  called a Grade III placenta).

The brain stem controls the automatic nervous system, and a person whose only functioning part of the brain is the brain stem, is called 'brain dead'.  This child is dead, only the heart is continuing to beat.  While in the womb,  mom's body takes care of all the necessary metabolic functions,  but it does not make the heart beat.  That heart will keep beating for who knows how long, maybe to term, often not, but even that will cease shortly after birth.   But, yes, if the heart is beating then the brain stem is functioning in utero.  That is a cold stone fact.  It doesn't count for much, but it is still a fact.  So don't lie to me. I'm not an idiot;  I know how to read.

And fuck you the third time for using that tired old cliche, that a malformed, brain-dead fetus is a "parasite".  No it's not.  It's an accident of nature, a tragedy, and a dead or never living embryo/fetus.  It is not a parasite, or else it would just move on to another host.   I can't imagine being a mother whose child suffered such tragedy and over-hearing some medical professional call my dead child a "parasite". So fuck you twice for that, bitch.

Maybe it's because I am a hospice volunteer, but that woman's self-righteous diatribe makes me furious. Or maybe that's why I am a hospice volunteer, because I understand death is as much a part of life as being conceived in the first place.  Dying people deserve honor, and their families deserve their dead loved ones be treated with dignity.

And calling someone's brain-dead child a parasite is not at all dignified (besides being a completely ridiculous analogy).

You want to know why the pro-life movement has gained so much steam, pro-choicers?  Because of lies like the one above.  A placenta does not keep a baby's heart beating, it supplies oxygenated blood to the baby's beating heart via the umbilical vein, but it does not make that baby's heart beat.  Acrania/anencephaly is a tragedy, a debilitating and fatal tragedy, but one that happens to someone's unborn child.  It's not a parasite.  Don't insult our intelligence and humanity with lies and derision.

Am I still pro-choice? 100%, but is in spite of, not because of, stupid arguments like the parasite argument.  So fuck you, pro-choice movement apologists. Because of your stupid, insulting rhetoric, it is harder for woman to gain access to birth control and/or abortions.  If you had been honest and compassionate, and appealed to the better nature of Americans, maybe the so-called "pro-life" movement wouldn't have gained so much traction.