Tea Pottyers, Libertarians, and other “patriots” worried about “freedom” should be vehemently supporting freedom for women by fighting to repeal the Hyde Amendment, the Stupak Amendment, and all the “Conscience Clause” and “fetal personhood” laws that have caused women across this country to be denied their birth control prescriptions by pharmacists because of the pharmacists’ “moral” or religious beliefs, and women rape victims being denied emergency contraception in the ER as part of the standard rape kit.
Compulsory pregnancy and childbirth puts women in harms way. Why are there NO laws against forced reproduction? Oh, that’s right. It only harms women — disposable walking incubators that aren’t human enough for harm against us to matter.
Pregnant women whose pregnancies turn into life-threatening complications are slapped with a death sentence because of these specious “fetal personhood” and “conscience clause” laws which allow healthcare providers to deny pregnant/miscarrying women their right to life by denying care that disagrees with “pro-life” policies protected under the “conscience clause” laws, and transfer to another hospital 80 miles away while hemorrhaging is NOT a reasonable nor feasible solution to this pro-forced birth phantasmagoria.
80% of US women have no access to affordable, reliable contraception or early term abortion in the event of contraceptive failure, even in the event of rape.
87% of all US counties have no abortion provider.
When half of the population is cruelly deprived of the right to have control over their own bodies and lives because of misogynistic policies draped in the habiliments of “morality”, then that half of the citizenry is NOT free. You don’t have a free country when only half of the citizens get to enjoy freedom while the other half is forcibly conscripted into childbirth chattel slavery at peril to their health, well-being and lives as well as at the expense of their liberty — because of a web of policies and laws effecting forced pregnancy and forced childbirth.
Forced childbirth against women’s will at peril to women’s wellbeing, liberty, health or lives — is ASSAULT. And imposing the conditions for fetal personhood effecting forced childbirth on a woman that results in the woman’s death is MURDER.
And since we all have the right to self-defense because self-preservation is the first law of nature, I, as a pre-menopausal woman, have EVERY right to defend myself against harm, including that of a nonconsensual pregnancy.
Consent to sex does not equal consent to pregnancy and childbirth.
Consent to pregnancy does not equal consent to death from unexpected health complications made worse or untreatable due to the pregnancy.
You cannot force someone else to risk their life or their health for you. This is why you cannot be forced by law to undergo risky surgery to give up a kidney or bone marrow to save someone else’s life, not even for your own child if he/she needed it.
If that were not so, the even more valid and stronger case could be made to force all men to get vasectomies and freeze their sperm and go through a licensing procedure, including adequate proof of a fully consenting woman willing to be impregnated with it, in order to procreate.
Childbirth does a really bad number on women’s bodies and health, and imposes some very debilitating and limiting physical conditions, often with very negative permanent results. Childbirth is one of the most, if not THE most, excruciatingly painful experience anyone can go through. Sometimes it even causes death from cardiac arrest or “stroking out” while giving birth.
Do we debate whether or not it’s OK to beat someone until they have an equivalent amount of physical damage, which would send them to the hospital? So why should it even be up for debate when it comes to the imposition of something even more traumatic with permanent damaging effects on women?
The risk of death associated with childbirth, even with access to good medical care, is about 11 times as high as that associated with safe, legal abortion. Women, even in the USA, are TEN TIMES as likely to die due to pregnancy related causes as someone in the military is to die in combat.
Only women are deemed as undeserving of self-determination, including OUR right to life because of these debates on whether or not we’re entitled to equal human rights. No heterosexual woman should be given the choice between living in utter terror of unwanted pregnancy making them a nervous wreck over sex, or having to live a life of loneliness in total celibacy from menarche to menopause since it’s impossible to have a healthy and full intimate adult relationship without sex.
Pro-forced birthers raising the “human rights for fetuses” argument who claim that pregnancy and childbirth is a “beautiful” and “empowering” that no natural woman would want to forego, pay nothing but lip-service to their value of women — especially mothers.
And it’s no accident that most virulent anti-abortion clinic terrorists are men, and that many are affiliated with white male supremacist “homegrown” terrorist groups. They enjoy seeing women suffer and forcing women to suffer. They’re too self-centered and egotistical to put a woman’s life, health and well-being above their own narcissism of begetting a genetic xerox copy of themselves to “carry on the [male] legacy” that requires the use of someone else’s body to get it. And they truly hate women and hate ALL aspects of our sexuality that they cannot oppress, dominate and control — by any means necessary.
For all the talk about valuing life and motherhood, and how “beautiful” and “empowering” that the pain/anxiety fest of pregnancy and (frequently) traumatic childbirth is, why are college girls who “bare all” at Daytona Beach during Spring Break Week admired while not-so-gorgeous-looking nursing mothers who discreetly breastfeed their babies in public get ejected from venues where women and children normally have a right to be?
Why is it that post-partum women are never promoted as the standard of “sexy” and “attractive-looking” and why do middle and upper-middle class men dump the women whose bodies get ruined from giving birth to their spawn, or push their wives into getting vaginal rejuvenation and labiaplasty after their lady parts got messed up and stretched out “down there”, making vaginal sex like “throwing a hot dog down a hallway” from giving birth?
We never see those with permanent lingering pregnancy fat, stretch marks, varicose veins, loose wrinkly stomach pouches and saggy deflated looking boobs on pin-up calendars and in magazine centerfolds or as the heroines of “reality” TV shows. While nubile young college girls are encouraged to show off their beauty, nursing moms are routinely publicly and loudly humiliated, and told to “cover up” if they don’t want to be ejected from restaurants, airlines, or even courthouses.
And it is highly doubtful that two middle class American women with “good” pregnancies and deliveries, Claudia Mejia and Katy Hayes, would classify their childbirth experiences as “beautiful.” Each of these women got an invasive Strep-A flesh-eating bacterial infection from childbirth, resulting in having to choose between death or the amputation of both arms and both legs. Both Mejia and Hayes had partners that stood by them, despite their horrific permanent disability and disfigurement that was a direct result of pregnancy and childbirth. One can only imagine how much more tragic it would have been for them if they were abandoned by the co-conceivers and been rendered permanently helpless and horrifically maimed as a result of UNWANTED pregnancies.
Meanwhile, poor women from the underclass of all ages are America’s most disposable and hated group. Whatever we have had to suffer never mattered — our conditions of deprivation are always somehow our fault. Job discrimination, lack of access to advanced education, lack of health and dental care, lack of any real safety net, and an invisible economic caste system in our “free country” couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it. Tragic outcomes in difficult pregnancies and childbirths, whether planned or wanted or not, are never reported for poor women who aren’t “important” enough to make the news. (Poor women should have “kept their legs shut.”)
As hard as these anti-woman/anti-abortion “moralists” push for “fetal personhood” and “conscience clause” laws that take away women’s personhood rights — such as the right to self-determination and bodily integrity — I have yet to see ANY “pro-lifer” push as vehemently for a generous compensation package including a generous pension for motherhood, which is an unrewarded and undervalued permanent sacrifice, a hazardous 24/7 occupation with permanent negative consequences for women’s bodies, decreased earning capacity and job opportunities, risk of abandonment by the co-conceiver/partner, psychological trauma (childbirth-induced PTSD), and potentially diminished sexual attractiveness and reduced sexual enjoyment.
Anti-abortionists promoting “fetal personhood” which imposes de facto childbirth chattel slavery upon women without regard to how the reproductive “livestock” feels about it, or if the “breeder chattel” survives the ordeal of pregnancy and childbirth, use misogyny cloaked under “fetus rights” as a convenient tool for ensuring that women remain poor and oppressed — and in misery from long-term debilitating effects on their bodies from pregnancy and childbirth.
Pregnancy and childbirth is the number one cause for women having to forego an education, and for removing women from the workplace and impoverishing them. This works out very nice for the beneficiaries of unearned privilege who don’t want to have to compete with poor women for university seats and jobs in post Welfare Reform AmeriKKKa.
With the full gamut of common and permanent risks and side effects of the reproductive process, if pregnancy and childbirth was a drug, the FDA would have taken it off the shelf eons ago. And if you think a fetus is more important than a woman, try getting a fetus to wash the shit stains out of your underwear for no pay and no pension.
Let’s be honest, shall we. Depriving women of our fundamental human right to have ownership and control over our own bodies and self-determination is not about ethical concerns over the “human rights” of fetuses — it’s about unethically depriving women of personal freedom and sexual autonomy. It’s about legalized enslavement of women. It’s about the legal torture and killing of women with forced childbirth and pregnancy complications. And it’s about legalized rape.
Jacqueline S. Homan is the author of four nonfiction books: Divine Right: the Truth is a Lie, Eyes of a Monster, Classism For Dimwits, and Nothing You Can Possess.