Migraines were the reason I was at the doctor’s office.
She was a wonderful doctor. It was the first time I’d had an internist as my primary care physician. She had a Palm Pilot with a good medical database on it so she didn’t have to work on anything by memory or leave me sitting to get more information.
A lot of what she had to say wasn’t new to me. I’d figured out that the frequent headaches and other weirdness were migraines through internet research. But she had access to more and better information. When I said I had these three to four days a week, she looked at me funny and said, “Three to four times a month is the point where we want to consider prophylactic treatment.”
I was all for treatment. She looked at my chart, particularly at my (low) blood pressure, consulted the Palm Pilot again, and said, “You’re having stress headaches with the migraines. I want to put you on propranolol.”
I was fine with that too. Then she said, “But if I give you a prescription for this drug, I need to know that you’ll be okay with having an abortion if you get pregnant.”*
I said, “Sure.” Then she wrote me a prescription. No fuss. No muss. About four years of migraine relief, with the side effect of clearing up some anxiety issues that had plagued me since childhood.
Everyone was happy. End of story.
As it turns out, Massimo Pigliucci is not happy with how I decided to have an abortion. You see, “To decide to get an abortion is always (or, at least, should always be) a very difficult and emotional step, precisely because it has significant ethical consequences.”
I’m so glad he told me. I had no idea that living a couple of decades as a fertile woman, at least nominally, would have prepared me to make that decision calmly and rationally. I couldn’t possibly have spent my life with abortion as a perennial hot-button political topic, something debated endlessly across the country and, you know, have thought the matter through in that time. I couldn’t possibly have sorted through how I felt about the existence of life versus the quality of life. I couldn’t have thought about what “life” means and which definitions of the word are useful versus which ones are stretching the point for the sake of argument.
I couldn’t have decided whether and how children fit into my life. I couldn’t have figured out whether my genes should be carried on. I couldn’t have figured out whether I would be a good parent, particularly not after having grown up with an abusive one.
I couldn’t have contemplated the possibility of birth control failing me sometime in the twenty years I’d been having sex at that point. I couldn’t have chosen birth control with the understanding of how I go about having sex and what that means for the odds of failure. I couldn’t have made contingency plans already and reassessed them as my life circumstances changed.
No, according to Pigliucci, I must have sat in that doctor’s office and had a “difficult and emotional” moment, because babby. Life! Ethics!
Sorry, Massimo, this is why we won’t be having this debate with you. You’re not qualified. You don’t treat women as people who can and do think about their lives. Instead we’re naive and need the help of the atheist movement to contemplate an issue we’ve been soaking in all our lives.
Let us know when you stop being so condescending. Until then, we’ll be over here not listening.
*Looking at the most recent recommendations on this, propranolol is probably not going to cause issues with fetal development, so don’t panic if you’re on the drug and would want to carry any pregnancy to term. Do talk to your doctor about it though.