Women's lives must matter

Women's lives must matter

Letter to the Editor,

When our country's founding documents were written, women became the husband's chattel property at marriage. A plantation owner could have relations with slaves because it could produce salable property — children. Our new Supreme Court brags of "originalist intent." So are today's women co-equal human beings? Or inferiors, subordinate to men's whims? Would any imagine that today's "conservative" politicians would vote for women's voting rights?

Consider:

—A 13-year-old is entrapped by her sister's husband. Might an originalist presume "Eve, the temptress," had seduced "the virtuous man"?

—A mid-20s late-shift pharmacy helper enters her accustomed overnight nursing quarters room and is raped by a hospital VIP. Who'd believe she'd not arranged a tryst? Knowing it would get her fired, would she dare complain, thus lose the income that keeps a roof over her parents' heads?

—An obstetrician determines clinically a woman's pregnancy is ectopic. Dare he act quickly to prevent catastrophe or must he delay for tests to "prove the diagnosis"?

—An obstetrician, in routine exam of a patient in early second trimester, identifies an ovarian mass. He knows that, if cancer — and if she isn't treated — the fetus might reach viability. But the woman's best chance for survival requires immediate action. What does he do?

The first two folks above are my mother. Imagine an early teen carrying her brother-in-law's baby. But mom managed to escape. Thank the Black housekeeper who cued mom to not enter her room. A womanizing doctor awaited, as "payback." Mom had blown the whistle on her boss, who was selling WWII-rationed pharmaceuticals into Chicago's black market. Wording in some current laws to allow abortion if "rape or incest" wouldn't help because determining guilt via courtroom takes months.

The "really close call" is my wife. My colleague's prompt action prevented catastrophe that could have left me partner-less, with two young motherless daughters. In today's legal ambiguity, who would blame a physician or hospital for requiring studies to "prove" danger to the mom, even if delay causes some women to die?

I, as a third-year medical student, was "in" on surgery for the mother of five with likely cancer. Medical reality forced a stark choice upon this patient. The obstetrician and woman, both Roman Catholic, had discussed in detail. She opted that, if cancer, her decision was for hysterectomy plus prompt start of chemo and radiation, "because my kids need a mom." The physician inculcated a standard to aspire to of compassion, dignity, respect, professionalism. He instilled understanding of the profound privilege and responsibility of being a doctor.

The Supreme Court's wording, repealing Roe v Wade, does not mention medical professionals. All are "abortionists." Even my professor, who, when he removed my patient's cancer and fetus, was my state's president of "Right to Life." A third or more of fertilized ova do not implant or abort on their own. Would the Court call God, too, an abortionist?

Dr. Jay Klemme

Wooster

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