KHUE LE ’21, Special to The Denisonian — During the summer of 2017, my father received his first billing for tuition and fees from Denison University for my first semester of college in the US. Imagine the horror on my dad’s face when he found out the Denison medical insurance plan costs more than $1,000.
The average income of a Vietnamese person is $4,000 per year, so please believe me when I say $1,000 is a huge amount of money for many people where I am from. Being the accountant that he is, my father looked for private alternatives to this insurance plan.
He found one, and we were discussing it at the dinner table with my family including my grandmother, my aunt, and my cousins, when my dad told me: “The Denison insurance plan is only better if you have to go through costly surgeries, like going into labor or second-trimester abortion. And if one of those happens, I think it’s best if you do the procedures here at home so that it is less costly and, more importantly, so that we can support you.”
Looking back on it, the conversation with my dad has a deep undertone of concern from my parents. They fear that I will foolishly choose to go through one of the toughest events a young woman might experience in her life both on a physical and a mental level alone in a foreign country with no social support and dozens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars indebted all due to shame. So he did the thing that not many Asian parents have done: say to my face in front of the whole family that he will support me no matter what I may choose to do.
Two days before going on the plane to Denison from the other side of Earth, my mother gave me a bunch of plan B’s. I think it was the first time I received the “birds and the bees talk” from her. Granted, she preferred to give me books to read when I had my first period ten years ago. What kind of Asian tiger mom would give “The Talk” directly to her daughter at 10? That’s too outrageous!
I find it so ironic that a young woman born and raised in the developing world in an atheistic country with classified authoritarian government who have never experienced a day of freedom and democracy or whatever the US promotes to the rest of the world that it is, somehow has more freedom to choose what happens to her pregnancy. I’m not just talking about freedom to have an abortion by law, I’m talking about the social and financial freedom that not many people in the US have at all to raise a child in a much more humane environment.
The two abortion pills for first-trimester abortion is over-the-counter and cost less than $5 in Vietnam, while the birth of a child in a hospital is covered mostly by the Social Insurance Fund, or you can have private options as well. If you are pregnant, the law dictates that your employer has to give you 5 days off throughout the pregnancy to visit doctors. There is a mandatory maximum six-month maternal leave available to you after birth. There has never been an abortion ban for pregnancy that is less than 12 weeks old ever proposed in the parliament.
Furthermore, the main reason for a cut-off at the 12-week stage during that period of time was that the vast majority of abortion after it in the country was to abort female children as sex is observable starting from this stage which is the most reasonable reason for an abortion ban that I could think of. Overall, I of all people somehow generally have more financial access to medical care, love and support from my family, and social support from society in both cases of abortion and birth than many women in the US.
I hate the word bodily autonomy. It decreases the whole value of a woman’s life down to the functioning of her womb like she’s an oven of some sort.
Of course, if you are choosing between the right to live and the right to not use your oven, you’re going to choose the right to live, because an oven is just an oven, right? It’s not like the oven is a human being. It’s not like ovens can have their own lives, with dreams and fears and mothers and fathers, with career goals and bad breakups, with academics to take care of and with compassion for the life it carries, with families and friends, and an actual life that, hopefully up until the point of carrying a life in it, is not 13 years old.
Hey, I’m an oven, I would know this.
Heck, I would even argue that an oven is more of a human being than the life it carries. Fun fact: women are living breathing human beings and their lives matter. Not just their ovens, but their thoughts, their aspirations, their dreams to be an entrepreneur, their studying to be an engineer, their mental and physical health, their social connections with friends and family, their financial stability and their current two children that they want to focus on taking care of. All of that will be affected during and after pregnancy.
Anyone who denies the link between a woman’s well-being and their oven’s functioning either does not have a uterus that reminds them of its function every month or never had a truly close female friend/lover/sister who feel safe enough around them to talk about their ovens.
Meanwhile, a fetus life is as much a human being as a tadpole is a frog. I mean both are definitely living creatures, one will eventually have the form of the other. But is a tadpole a frog? Or more likely a potential frog? And if that is the case then should the frog government support policies that prioritize tadpole lives over frog lives?
Nathaniel Beach wrote an article called “Why I’m pro-life” and this is my response to that. Nathaniel, I so very much agree abortion is a human rights issue. Human. Rights. Not life rights. Human rights.
I choose to be pro-life myself. I just also am very privileged to be pro-life and also not ruin my own life in the process thanks to the support system that I was lucky to be born into. However, many women out there may not have her partner’s support, may live under the poverty line struggling to feed herself, maybe she is sixteen and wants to graduate high school. Your mom loses sleep for you, statistically likely to have received a pay-cut for you, and loves and supports you unconditionally for her entire life. That’s a lot to ask for from a living human being with a separate possibly struggling life of their own.
Are the women and their kids capable of coming out of the experience satisfied? Yes. Of course, they can.
Are fatherless children more likely to be murderers, drug dealers, and rapists in the US? Is it true that only 30% of children waiting for adoption get adopted every year in the US?
Is a fetus life equal to a human being or is it more like a potentially contributing member of a society if it is raised wanted, loved, disciplined and provided the opportunity to grow up to be its best self? And if a society is likely to have more criminals and underprivileged citizens after implementing social policy, should that society pursue that policy while simultaneously propose to cut medical, educational and social support funding? Or should it just accept that this is not something the state should interfere with, like minimum wage or guns? I mean the Libertarians on Denison’s campus can tell me how much America cares for personal liberty, right?
Are you willing to tell your daughter who is considering an abortion that the next eighteen years of her current two children that they want to focus taking care of, or her dream to be an entrepreneur, or her studying to be an engineer, or the bearings on her mental and physical health, her social connections with friends and family, her financial stability, her LIFE, somehow all matters less than this other life in her? Bear in mind that the alternative can be two pills and a heavy period for your little girl, and the life she carries would not feel a thing when it is terminated at this stage.
So yes, my parents would be so happy to know that Ohio banned abortion. That means I for sure will have to come back to them and receive their unconditional love and care should I ever give birth, or go through an abortion, depending on my choice.