Monday, February 13, 2017

More Chapters From The Handmaid's Tale: Oklahoma

In Oklahoma, a freshman Rep. Justin Humphrey, has drafted an unconstitutional bill on abortions:*

...the legislation would require a woman seeking an abortion first to obtain written permission from her sexual partner. It would also require her to provide his name to her doctor and would forestall the procedure if the man wanted the opportunity to challenge paternity.
The U.S. Supreme Court struck down a similar provision in 1992.
It may not have a real chance of becoming a law, but given that this is Oklahoma, who knows?  The proposal was once tabled, but has been put back on the relevant committee's agenda, and is expected to have a hearing on Valentine's Day!!!

Never mind that.  What Humphrey said in defense of his draft proposal is truly fascinating:

At first, Humphrey said that the original intention of the bill was to ensure that fathers are involved in supporting a child from conception. “I was wanting fathers to have to pay child support at the beginning,” he said, but that specific language was excised from the bill.

Pardon me while I roll on the floor laughing.  Note how a woman's sexual partner in Humphrey's world would get the right to force her to give birth, but wouldn't have to pay anything toward her pregnancy!  A win-win for misogynists.

I haven't researched if Humphrey's little bill embryo has any qualifications.  For instance, can a man force a woman to give birth after having raped her?  What about the medical risks of pregnancy?  Would those matter at all?  I certainly hope so.

Most of those who have commented on this Taliban-like proposal have focused on another part of the defense Humphrey gives to his proposal, this:

Ultimately, he said, his intent was to let men have a say. “I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions,” he said. “I understand that they feel like that is their body,” he said of women. “I feel like it is a separate — what I call them is, is you’re a ‘host.’ And you know when you enter into a relationship you’re going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don’t get pregnant,” he explained. “So that’s where I’m at. I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”

I have bolded the sentences that have caused the most ire.  At first glance it looks like Humphrey believes women's bodies are not their bodies, but aquaria for fetuses, "hosts."  But it's pretty clear that what he means is the Russian dolls** argument:

"You sluts have gotten another body inside you, and because you chose to have sex and because your precautions failed or you did not take them, now others will decide if that smaller doll can be removed or not.  Now you are just hollow containers.  You had your choice earlier, and because you chose poorly, you will no longer have full human rights."

So.  But what if the cause for the pregnancy was that the man lied about having had a vasectomy, or that he removed the condom without her noticing?  Is that still her responsibility?  And should he still have the right to force her to give birth?

People like Justin Humphrey disgust me.  If his misogynistic proposal became law, the bodies of pregnant women would, indeed, be under the control of their sexual partners.  Pregnancies can have real health risks, and although Humphrey doesn't understand it, the likelihood of conception is not something the male sexual partner cannot manipulate.

Note Justin's real point:

Ultimately, he said, his intent was to let men have a say. “I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions,”
Nope, we have not.  A man is needed for the conception, and most, if not all,  of the men doing the conceiving are voluntary participants who have made that choice, fully knowing that under the current laws women can have an abortion without their permission.  They pre-knew that!  If they don't like the idea, they shouldn't have had sex in the first place.

Just using Humphrey's thought patterns there...***


* Another draft proposal in Oklahoma would ban all abortions which are based on genetic abnormalities of the embryo or fetus, never mind how early in the pregnancy the abortion is considered.

** These kinds, where the smallest doll goes inside the next smallest, and that one goes inside the slightly bigger one and so on, until all we see is the largest doll, full of embryo dolls!

***  He echoes the arguments of certain types of Men's Rights Activists who want men to have rights over the fetus or embryo in a woman's body, both to force the woman to abort if he doesn't want to become a father, and to force the woman to give birth, if he does.

IF the developing embryo or fetus was outside the woman's body in an artificial womb and IF the burdens of bringing up the child would somehow be fairly figured out in that scenario, THEN those arguments could be entertained.  But given the current birth-giving technology, she has so much more "skin in the game" that he cannot have those rights without removing some or all of her human rights.