A Billings Gazette editorial in the Feb. 8 Montana Standard wants us to believe that the fight against abortion and for the life of the unborn child isn’t worth the effort. It “distracts from other healthcare issues.”

The “distracts” argument is the same one used by Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT) to avoid the issue of fetal pain when he recently voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

Based on scientific evidence that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks, the bill would have protected a developing child after 20 weeks. Two-thirds of Americans supported the common sense Fetal Pain Bill.

Yet the Standard/Gazette believes abortion, while “disconcerting”, should be “a last resort in birth control,” meaning if contraception fails, you’re covered. The Gazette editorial staff remains disturbingly unconcerned about pain inflicted on a developing human being during an abortion or the adverse results on women ingesting synthetic hormones.

The Standard/Gazette also believes abortion “plays an oversized role in politics” in that in 2014 “there were less than 1,700 abortions performed” in Montana and not all of those may have been residents of the state. Using numbers foils the idea a child is killed, as killed in action numbers does for soldiers.

Try this: there are some one million abortions in the U.S. every year, or about the total population of Montana. This isn’t a trivial issue; it affects all of us.

With 3-D sonograms, in utero surgery, and infant emergency care, we are past the “clump of cells” definition of the unborn. According to medical reports, a child who was born at 21 weeks and four days is now a healthy 3-year-old girl with no impairments.

Pop singer Joy Villa recently appeared on the red carpet for the Grammys music awards in New York wearing a white gown with a large colorful painting of her own preborn daughter as a sonogram image on her flowing skirt.

The Standard/Gazette avoids any mention of health consequences from using contraceptive pills. This is what I found out with the help of two doctors:

▪ According to the National Cancer Institute, oral contraceptives are associated with increased risks of breast, cervical and liver cancer. While oral contraceptives provide some protection against endometrial and ovarian cancer, this protective effect is also conveyed by pregnanc

▪ Hormonal contraception is associated with increased incidence of depression.

▪ Oral contraceptives are associated with higher risk of blood clots (venous thrombosis and pulmonary embolism).

▪ Oral contraceptives are associated with higher risk of stroke and myocardial infarction.

▪ In Africa, Depo-Provera, an injectable contraceptive, doubles the risk of HIV transmission.

Finally, the Standard/Gazette applauds the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for tackling the legal issue of whether the state can limit the medical providers who perform abortions. The newspapers are concerned “anytime Helena tries to get between a doctor and a patient.”

I would have hoped that in the tragically current context of the monstrous abuses inflicted by Dr. Larry Nassar on children gymnasts, while everyone disgracefully refused to intervene, the editorial would have been more cautious about using this tired and entirely inadequate talking point.

As long as the privacy of the patient is preserved, medical practice like other professional activities is not exempt from public scrutiny.

Mellda Freeman of Butte is  the mother of 5 grown children, grandmother of 6, a Latin tutor and educational consultant.


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