Namo amitabha Buddhaya, y'all.
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Saturday, April 13, 2013

We're Not In Kansas Anymore.

"Women do not lose their rights to medical decision making, bodily integrity and physical liberty upon becoming pregnant or at any stage of pregnancy, labor or delivery."

--Farah Diaz-Tello, attorney and advocate for pregnant women


--every male Republican politician in the United States

It was only a matter of time.  History will record that on April 11, 2028, it officially became illegal to be in New York City while pregnant. New York City posted a PAH ratio (that's polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, for you science types) of 4.0 - almost double the 2.26 nanograms per cubic meter that's considered safe for human breathing.  That's a measure of air pollution, and New York City's is one of the highest in the country. Since it's been proven that air pollution can negatively affect a child's IQ, and since pregnant women are criminally liable if they do anything during their pregnancies that might harm their babies, New York City is off limits to anyone who's more than two weeks late. 

But New York wasn't the only city that closed its doors to pregnant women.  Dallas, Fort Worth, Plano--pretty much the entire Metroplex and the quad-county area was off limits.  San Francisco and San Diego were out.  So was most of the Eastern seaboard.  In fact, as the oil began to run out and more and more coal was trucked in to take its place, more and more cities went over the PAH ratio and more and more pregnant women were shipped to homes for expectant mothers in the Midwest. Kansas was a particular favorite  And why not?  It was a lot safer there.  No ski resorts, no mountain climbing, no surfing, nothing dangerous to do during leisure time. Cigarettes were banned, alcohol consumption during pregnancy was already a class III misdemeanor, and though abortion was still technically legal, there were no providers in the state since the last clinic was run out of business by new regulations.  

The Kansas homes were known for their fine security.  Since that woman in Indiana ate rat poison to try to kill herself in her eighth month of pregnancy, many of the homes offer 24-hour "supervision" of all residents (they didn't like it if you called it "suicide watch"). Husband visits were encouraged, but only with a chaperon-no sex, of course; it might hurt the baby.  By 2028, the biggest problem for the homes was keeping up with demand.  With most forms of birth control banned on the theory that they "might" cause an abortion, and abortion still legal but for the most part unavailable, the average heterosexual female was having between five and six children, at least three of them unplanned.  Some liberal feminists still complained that the new laws treated women like "walking wombs," but few paid attention.  Most of the population agreed that if you were going to conceive a child, it was your duty to take care of it from the moment of conception to the moment of birth.  What happened after that, of course, was somebody else's problem.  

Okay, that's enough narrative.  Now I'll tell you what in hell I'm talking about.  I'm talking about this survey, which reviewed so-called "pro-life" laws in all 50 states and came up with 413 incidents in 44 states in which the laws were used not to help babies but to hurt women.  Women have been on the receiving end of court orders, prosecutions, lawsuits and civil commitments that demand they put aside their own personal autonomy, their civil rights, their dignity and their personhood for the sake of the baby they're carrying. 

Yeah. Personhood.  Maybe you've heard that term before. You'll hear it again.

Think I'm hysterical?  Thank you for that anti-woman sentiment (you did know that "hysterical" meant "a state of distress brought about by having a womb," didn't you?).  Ponder these cases:  A woman threatened with arrest because she wanted to have a c-section on Friday instead of Tuesday. A woman  charged with attempted feticide for falling down a flight of stairs on the assumption she did it on purpose to kill her fetus. A woman in Idaho who was arrested for inducing her own abortion with RU-486, on the logic that somebody else can give you an abortion in Idaho, but you can't bring about your own.   A woman in Indiana who, while severely mentally ill, tried to kill herself by eating rat poison.  (Sorry, but this one just kills me.)  She was eight months pregnant.  She let some friends take her to a hospital, where she had an emergency C-section to get the baby out of harm's way.  The baby died anyway.  She was charged with murder and attempted feticide.  The murder charge didn't stick but the attempted feticide charge did.  You can follow the case here.  It's unbelievable.  Suicide is not against the law in Indiana.  And if none of those make you think something's terribly wrong here, check this one out: A woman in Tennessee was arrested for child endangerment and driving while intoxicated, with no children in the car and with a blood alcohol level that was 0.04 - well below the legal limit of 0.08.  Why?  She admitted to having had a glass of wine and being pregnant.

I mean, I could go on.  I have laws pending in Alabama and Tennessee that would make a fetus a "child" for reasons of "child abuse" once a fetal heartbeat is detected. I have a judge in Ohio that kept a woman in jail past her release date because he didn't want her to have an abortion.  I have a woman in Oregon who was civilly committed to a psychiatric hospital because she refused to be tested for gestational diabetes.  (Refusing a test, people.  She was locked in a mental ward for refusing a test. In 2005.)  But you get the idea.  The idea is that somehow, legally, pregnant women form this whole underclass (like slaves, or gays, or 19th-century women) that has laws specifically applying to them that can apply to no one else.  

[N]or shall any person . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.

--United States Constitution, 5th Amendment

 No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

--United States Constitution, 14th Amendment


At what stage in pregnancy does a woman lose her civil rights? 

More to the point, at what stage in pregnancy does a woman cease to be a person?


Marcia Wall said...

Very good question: More to the point, at what stage in pregnancy does a woman cease to be a person?

Jen said...

Haven't had a coherent answer yet. I'm gonna start sending this question to my elected officials.