Friday, March 10, 2006

 

The woman thing

(This is the second part of my abortion series. See the intro and the first part, “It’s all about the sex.”) In the intro to this multi-post rant on abortion, I said, “Instead of arguing the immediate issue of abortion, the issue of body control...etc – which other people who have more vested in those questions do much better than I ever could – I want to explore the larger issues...” Which was a dumb thing to say. Because the more I researched “pro-life” positions and groups and legislation, the more I realized that the movement was primarily concerned with bodies. Women’s bodies. Take this heart-felt editorial written by a man who regrets his girlfriend had an abortion back in 1978:
I, like many in the late 1970s, experienced some of the liberal viewpoints of the era. During college, I had been with a woman and she became pregnant. My family didn't have any other male progeny. I was the sole male Schultz remaining on the family tree - as my father was in poor health and would soon pass away, never being a grandpa. The ability to father a son meant a great deal to him, and to me. However, the action of the young lady aborting our son has left an indelible scar on my soul to this day. As a young man who impregnated her, I offered to marry. However she feared the reaction of her family. We were both Catholic. As the father, I never had the chance to prevent her action as it was "her body." Was this fair to the father who wanted a son, and offered to marry her? As a result of this, I have become ever more adamant that abortion leaves permanent scars on those in my position; scars I have now. There was no danger to the mother. There was no impediment to her obtaining the abortion. And, I had no way to influence the outcome for a son who now would be about 28 years old and bear my name. This emotional scar has altered my perception on both sides of the abortion issue. Yes, the woman can claim it is her body and she can do anything with it. But what about the potential father? What right does he have? What option does he have but to live with the fact that he will know for the rest of his life that he lost a son, and potential heir, in a family where out of five males on my father's side all were unable to sire any children? Even my birth to my parents as they reached their 39th birthday was quite a surprise, as they were told they could not have children. I wonder what my son would have been like. But with legalized abortion, I'll never know the joy. I have to live with the permanent scar for an action I did not want. To this day I wonder about my son. What would he be like? However, I was deprived this due to perceived familial pressure. In the meantime, I love the boy and girl I conceived in marriage. I contend that the rights of the father who wants to be a dad need to be debated.
This is just a letter from one Utah man, not the entire anti-abortion movement, but there’s a not-so-subtle subtext to his words that seems be common to many opposing abortion. Basically, the “lost child” was the valuable “heir” to his family, the boy that would carry on his family’s name, the child to compensate for the family men’s inability to “sire.” For all we know, he could be talking about horses. And that’s the deal. The boy is a valuable commodity in the family name. The mother of the boy a precious vessel to carry his son to term. In other words, the fetus is his right, his property as male “sire.” The mother? A baby machine. A central idea running through the anti-abortion movement is that a woman is not in full control. She needs guidance to find her “true calling”: motherhood. If introduced to the pleasures of sex without the influence of a paternal, benevolent male guide, she will trod the path of licentiousness and lust. If introduced to dangerous feminist ideas, she might prefer to pursue a career, become a lesbian, or, worse still, both. If left to decide the fate of her fetus, she might make a mistake and abandon a sire’s heir. Or, as Amanda says, women are like sheep.
Most [abortion protestors] are absolutely floored at the very idea that women’s decisions should be examined at all – to them, only the doctor who performed [the abortion] is morally accountable because he had the job to direct the amoral sheep-like woman towards the “correct” decision of not aborting and he fell down on his job of providing guidance.
Consider Ellen Goodman’s words in a recent editorial about the South Dakota abortion ban:
Even this week, with superb irony, Governor Rounds promised tender care for the women he would force to continue their pregnancies. Representative Hunt explained that women themselves would not be prosecuted under the law because any woman choosing abortion was ''not thinking clearly." (Tell that to the US soldier who made a 700-mile round trip to the clinic that January day.)
Unfortunately, women are not sheep. Identical to males in genetic makeup, with the exception of a single chromosome, women are able to reason, have individual consciousness, desire, enjoy sex, and contain the multitude of hopes, envies, aspirations, and ambitions equal to even the most complex of men. Any given woman may be equal to, or even superior to, her male counterpart when considering a thorny problem. Such as pregnancy. Lately there’s a lot of rhetoric circling the ‘Net, like the letter I posted today. What about a man’s right to “choice” in the debate? Can’t he have power over the ultimate decision? There is a point. Men are strangely absent from the content in this debate. Not that they should have an equal say (or superior say, if the abortion ban stands) in deciding the fate of a fetus – after all it is the mother who bears the child, whose body is ravaged by the trauma of pregnancy and birth, who is expected to do all the difficult work, the feeding, clothing, and raising of any children. Not that men should have the right to duck any financial obligation to a child if the mother opts to bear it. (Trust me, as a father of two toddlers, paying half your salary is ridiculously painless compared to the hands-on work of raising kids.) No, men belong in the debate because they must participate in conceiving a child. Where’s all the hubbub and furor surrounding the easy virtue of men? Why aren’t pro-lifers working to curtail male sexuality? If we sequester boys into heartland monasteries, keep them buckled into elaborate male chastity belts, we wouldn’t have to worry about abortion rights, would we? Men don’t think they have the power of choice? Of course they do! A man’s choice is simple. He can choose with his c*ck. Don’t like abortions? Don’t f*ck. Update: Here's a related post that popped onto Feminist Blogs during my rant:
But no matter. It's no coincidence that this case is being taken seriously now. The anti-choice, reactionary, theocratic wingnuts want to put women in their place, like the good old days, when men were told that "boys will be boys" and women were either virgins or whores, and children were bastards. Back then there was a lot of hostility about how women tried to trap helpless men into marriage, while putting women on pedestals and waxing poetic about nice girls and good wives, and the power behind the throne. All the while, the cast-off women and girls had these dubious choices: a) a back-alley abortion, b) going through forty weeks of pregnancy with all of its risks and complications only to give the resulting child up for adoption, or c) going through forty weeks of pregnancy with all of its risks and complications to be a single mother with no support. Either option also got you branded a slut, moral panics about womens' behavior, and a lecture about keeping your legs closed. Much like now, in fact.

Comments:
How about legislation that permits insurers not to cover birth control or women's reproductive health screening?

http://susiemadrak.com/2006/03/11/09/58/more-states-rights/#comments

Seems it might be the answer to dealing with those buggardly diabetics and their dastardly insulin addictions as well.
 
Yeah I saw this bit of news as I was writing this post, so it missed out. It definitely fits in the pattern I think I've described in my posts that the anti-abortion movment want to discourage female sexuality by making sex more "dangerous."

Isn't Viagra still covered in federal health plans?
 
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