Monday, February 21, 2011

Life Imitates Art, and Not in a Good Way

Charles Coleman Finlay had a story up on Futurismic last year in which not only abortion, but miscarriage, is a crime: "Your Life Sentence."

And damned if some nutty state representative in Georgia hasn't introduced a bill requiring investigation of all miscarriages. This law not only out-and-out prohibits abortion as "prenatal murder," it intends for authorities to make absolutely certain that any miscarriages occurred through no fault of the woman in question. I'm sure any indication that the woman had been drinking or smoked any dope would be enough to charge her with a crime, and it doesn't take any imagination at all to figure out just how far this would go. (Skip your vitamins? Exercise too vigorous? Engage in too much sex while pregnant?)

I found this proposed law so unbelievable when I read the post about it on Daily Kos that I actually read the damn bill itself just to be sure. I note as an insight into this man's mind that the bill only uses the term miscarriage once and puts it in quote marks. The actual words he uses are "spontaneous fetal death."

The law is reprehensible on abortion rights; just stopping right there it's completely extreme and blatantly unconstitutional. And it's not likely to pass; it's just red meat rhetoric. It's not even the most unusual; the proposal in South Dakota that would allow justifiable homicide as a defense to killing a doctor who performs abortion probably takes the cake for that.

But less extreme bills are passing every day. There's an ongoing assault on women by the people Vonda N. McIntyre calls the "Compulsory Pregnancy" brigade. That term really nails it, because given that they're also opposed to contraception and sex education, compulsory pregnancy for any woman who has sex is exactly what they have in mind.

This battle ought to be over. But a look at the Congressional Republican effort to defund Planned Parenthood demonstrates just how bad the situation is.

I saw a note from Charlie Finlay on Facebook in which he observed that a lot of US publications rejected his story because they found it "unrealistic." Oh, I wish it were.


Athena Andreadis said...

Alice Sheldon, aka James Tiptree Jr., The Women Men Don’t See:

“Women have no rights, Don, except what men allow us. Men are more aggressive and powerful, and they run the world. When the next real crisis upsets them, our so-called rights will vanish like—like that smoke. We’ll be back where we always were: property. And whatever has gone wrong will be blamed on our freedom, like the fall of Rome was. You’ll see.”

Nancy Jane Moore said...

Athena and I are already debating (politely and not with major disagreement) over at Futurismic about whether women now have enough power to fight for our rights in the face of male opposition. I love that Tiptree story passionately, but I've always found that statement a little defeatist.

Which doesn't mean I don't think we'd better pay attention even to crazy people who introduce legislation that isn't going to pass. There are plenty of restrictive abortion bills passing legislatures, not to mention the war on Planned Parenthood. And while there are many other complex feminist issues that I'd rather spend my time on these days (very interesting report on the women in combat issue on NPR this morning, for example), reproductive freedom and its related rights are the cornerstone of feminism.

Which is why I'd like to make sure Charlie's story gets read as widely as possible.

Timmi Duchamp said...

Have you seen Rep. Jackie Spears post ( in which she talks about what happened when she talked from her own experience--about needing a second-trimester D&C to stave off infection because "the fetus had slipped from my uterus into my vagina and could not survive"? Back in the early 80s the sign I usually chose to carry at abortion rights rallies & during protective pickets at clinics was one that declared that "A Woman's Life is a Human Life," a declaration that bystanders claimed they did not "get."

Athena Andreadis said...

As I told Nancy in private exchanges, I also have reservations about that passage from Tiptree but decided to reproduce without cuts.

Comments on the Futurismic thread and other experiences I've had (including ones in self-labeled "progressive" communities) make me less optimistic than Nancy about linear progress. Women's rights have taken serious hits around the world and in the US in the last two decades. We need to keep revisiting issues that (should) have been settled long ago -- which is tiring and disheartening. Hence the Tiptree quote.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

Yep, I saw the video. And I love your sign, Timmi. Actually, the abortion-related incident in the last year that's made me the angriest is all the fallout over the Catholic-affiliated hospital in Arizona that did an abortion to save a woman's life. A nun on the board was excommunicated and the church revoked the hospital's standing for doing the abortion. How can anyone with a conscience call themselves "pro-life" when they'd let a woman die like that? But of course, if you don't think women are really human ....

Josh said...

Jesus wept. I went and looked at the actual bill to find out whether it's talking about instating Nicaraguan policies on reproductive rights; and the reasoning in that bill is so Confederate. Nullification of the federal gov't and all.

Nancy Jane Moore said...

Well, Josh, you noticed that in Alabama they had a celebration of the 150th anniversary of the inauguration of Jefferson Davis as president of the CSA. I see a lot of parallels between the current issues and the ones that led up to the Civil War. Which tends to scare the bejesus out of me (despite the fact that I am, on the whole, as Athena points out, a glass half full sort of person).

Josh said...

A commenter at Pandagon posted this Republican War on Women roundup