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Constance Alexander: This year’s Independence Day fireworks represent a ‘me too’ moment

Born on the first of July, I celebrated the 4th like it was my own personal holiday when I was a child. The parade, fireworks, red, white, and blue streamers were extra special because I loved the idea of independence — for me and for the USA.

I was my mother’s sixth pregnancy in twelve years. Today, she would have been considered a “geriatric” pregnancy because of her age. My birth was placenta previa, a complication that can cause serious adverse consequences for both mother and baby, including an increased risk of maternal and neonatal mortality.

(Photo by Erik Drost, Creative Commons)

The due date for my birth was July 11, but on June 30 my mother began hemorrhaging. She arrived at the hospital in an ambulance. My father was contacted at work and told to get to the hospital immediately.
I imagine him chain smoking and pacing back and forth in the waiting room. When he finally got to talk to the doctor, it was clear the situation was dire.

“Who do we save, mother or child?” was the question.

Mother was not part of the decision-making process; she was sedated.

At the time, the Catholic Church’s position was that the child was first priority in cases like this. Although the two of them seldom agreed on anything, I assume my mother would have agreed with my father’s choice, to save her.

With four other children at home, and no grandparents or other close relatives to pitch in and help out, it made the most sense for the family.

Constance Alexander is a columnist, award-winning poet and playwright, and President of INTEXCommunications in Murray. She can be reached at constancealexander@twc.com. Or visit www.constancealexander.com.

Lucky for me, we both survived.

If the same situation occurred in today’s world, who knows whether some kind of investigation would have to happen because of the circumstances surrounding the birth? Would there be doubt that the complication was natural, or might it be suspected as an attempt at a self-induced, late-term abortion?

Until the recent Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, I took it for granted that choices regarding birth control and childbearing were between a woman and her doctor. Now, women still have skin in the game but limited voice in the outcome, depending on where they live. Legislators at the state level, mostly men, are likely to be calling the shots. It’s back to the “good old days.”

I cast my vote with dissenting justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, who said that the court decision means that “young women today will come of age with fewer rights than their mothers and grandmothers.”

“From the very moment of fertilization,” they declared, “a woman has no rights to speak of. A state can force her to bring a pregnancy to term even at the steepest personal and familial costs.”

“With sorrow — for this Court, but more, for the many millions of American women who have today lost a fundamental constitutional protection — we dissent.”

Me too. This year’s fireworks were truly a “blast from the past,” a helluva way to celebrate independence.

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