Reva: (pause) I've never heard of a joint honeymoon before.
Christina: It's one of the benefits of living in sin.
Oppressors always expect the oppressed to extend to them the understanding so lacking in themselves.
— Audre Lorde
The New York Times yesterday related a story of a young woman from El Salvador they are calling Beatriz. Beatriz is 26 weeks pregnant. She is 22. She has lupus, and she is already the mother of a 14 month-old boy. The child she carries now has anencephaly, a birth defect where parts of the brain and skull are missing. So severe is that birth defect that the child is almost certain to die if it survives to birth. Beatriz’s medical team believes she may die (and by default, her fetus) if she does not undergo an abortion in the coming weeks. She and her doctors have asked El Salvador’s highest court to grant an exception to its abortion laws, which do not allow abortion under any circumstances. Their request was denied.
Abortion is an incredibly divisive topic wherever there are women getting pregnant, regardless of whether it is legal or illegal. In countries where an abortion can be readily had, Beatriz would have already undergone the procedure and would now be at home with her toddler. Instead, she is in a hospital where the doctors, who want to perform an abortion and are legally unable to do so, are instead trying to figure out how to save her life when the one tool that will accomplish that feat is being denied them.
Regardless of where you land on the Abortion Is Murder or Abortion Is A Woman’s Right spectrum, Beatriz’s situation is inherently one of real life and real death. There is no straw man or straw woman here. Death is coming.
The question is what to do about it.
Triage is the medical process by which doctors and nurses determine how and when to treat patients based on the severity of their condition. It’s how they filter and sift through which needs are most pressing so that resources are utilized efficiently and effectively in order to give the best care. In triage, three categories are employed:
1. Those most likely to live, regardless of the care they receive.
2. Those most likely to die, regardless of the care they receive.
3. Those whose outcome is likely to be more positive if they are given immediate care.
Resources are then allocated according to who falls into what category. Triage is regularly used in emergency rooms and emergency situations, not because some people are more valuable than others, but because when time and resources are limited, and everybody is equally valuable, decisions still have to be made in regards to treatment and who gets what, when. In triage categories, Beatriz lands solidly in category 3. The child she carries is tragically in category 2.
Advanced triage ratchets up the process’s difficulty quotient by recognizing that sometimes (battlefields, natural disasters, terrorist attacks, etc.), time and resources are so limited that it becomes necessary for medical authorities to acknowledge that some patients cannot be saved so that they can focus the time and resources available on the patients who can be. The idea of advanced triage isn’t pretty. It recognizes not only that people are going to die, but that some people will die who might not have, had the immediate situation been different. But in a medical crisis, advanced triage is Reality’s brass tacks. Not everyone can be saved. What do we do? The more humane and ethical way to treat people in such a situation is to put all your eggs in the Who’s-Most-Likely-To-Make-It basket.
Resources and time are very limited in Beatriz’s case. If her medical team is allowed to act swiftly enough in providing her with an abortion, she stands a very good chance at making a full recovery. Currently, there are no technological or medical resources that will save her unborn child. That real and serious limitation cannot be overcome by a country’s laws or a people’s faith. No high court would deny a doctor on the battlefield or at a bombing site the right to prioritize care, i.e. the right to employ triage, even if that prioritizing meant some people died who might otherwise have been saved. Beatriz and the child she carries are in that situation. It’s ugly, and it’s hard, but it’s what is happening. When a woman’s life is in danger and she is pregnant, triage and advanced triage are helpful and real tools for thinking and acting with, regardless of what one’s views—or laws—are on abortion.
Beatriz’s unborn child cannot be helped by the medical field’s current abilities. She can be, but she needs that care soon, or two lives—if you’re pro-life and counting—will be lost.
Here’s a little excerpt from an interview I did with Georgetown College’s WRVG about being an artist. You can read the whole interview here.
“It’s a band about heartbreak–but on a larger scale–we’re leaning into our collectively breaking heart.”
Grief will come to you.
Grip and cling all you want,
It makes no difference.
Catastrophe? It’s just waiting to happen.
Loss? You can be certain of it.
Flow and swirl of the world.
Carried along as if by a dark current.
All you can do is keep swimming;
All you can do is keep singing.
by Gregory Orr
There is that great proverb—that until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter…Once I realized that, I had to be a writer… It’s not one person’s job. But it is something we have to do, so that the story of the hunt will also reflect the agony, the travail—the bravery, even, of the lions.
“Under what circumstances, if any, may ‘the government’—i.e., the military or the C.I.A., with the consent, tacit or express, of the President—order the killing without trial of a citizen not on American soil? What about the killing, also without trial, of a specific person who is specifically believed to be a dangerous terrorist but has the misfortune of not being a citizen of the United States? Or a person of whatever nationality whose habits and associations conform to a circumstantial ‘signature’ suggesting that he is, or probably is, a dangerous terrorist? How certain must those who dispatch the drones be that their ‘target’ is who they think he is? What safeguards, what checks, what procedures, short of a full legal process, but greater than the mere say-so of the drone dispatchers, are required or appropriate? Given the brutal methods of ‘modern’ war, whether ‘conventional’ (invading armies, aerial bombing and strafing, ‘force-protection’ thoroughness, ‘shock-and-awe’) or ‘asymmetrical’ (suicide bombings, terror attacks, ‘improvised explosive devices’), all of which tend to kill and maim civilians in greater numbers and at higher ratios, don’t drone attacks represent a somewhat less inhumane alternative—’the worst form of war, except for all the others,’ as Will Saletan put it recently? Because drones carry no physical risk to the attacker, don’t they create a temptation to use them simply because they can be used?”
Dear, Lord. Pray for us.
— Emily Moseley, pausing before we ate dinner, hands held, on her most Catholic birthday, yet.
If you’re gonna fake it, it’s gotta be real.
— Andrew English
I’m a gist-er.
— Jamie Karolich, on her inability to recall specific details in certain contexts.