Tuesday, May 07, 2019

The Candy And The Wrapper. Or on Women, Abortions And Pregnancies.

By serendipity, I read two articles about pregnancy, one after the other, and then considered them together.

The first tells us a piece of news which should be truly shocking:  Maternal deaths, and especially black maternal deaths, in the US are rising*:

Globally, maternal mortality fell about 44% between 1990 and 2015, according to the World Health Organization. But the U.S. is out of step: Moms die in about 17 out of every 100,000 U.S. births each year, up from 12 per 100,000 a quarter century ago.
Possible factors include the high C-section rates in the U.S. and soaring rates of obesity, which raises the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other complications.
Black women in the U.S. are about three times as likely to die from a pregnancy-related cause as others, partly because of racial bias they may experience in getting care and doctors not recognizing risk factors such as high blood pressure, said Dr. Lisa Hollier, the obstetrician group’s president.

That article concludes with a comment by a doctor about the finding that one third of pregnancy-related deaths take place in the time period between one week from giving birth to up to a year after it:

“It’s like the baby is the candy and the mama is the wrapper,” she added. “Once the baby is out of the wrapper, the wrapper is tossed aside.”

After that piece I read an article about the new Georgia law which would criminalize abortions.  Women who would be found guilty of having self-aborted a fetus could be charged with murder and face life imprisonment or a death sentence.  That bill also declares that egg-Americans are "a class of living, distinct persons:"

Thus, Georgia law must “recognize unborn children as natural persons”—not just for the purposes of abortion, but as a legal rule.
This radical revision of Georgia law is quite deliberate: The bill confirms that fetuses “shall be included in population based determinations” from now on, because they are legally humans, and residents of the state.
But it is not clear whether the bill’s drafters contemplated the more dramatic consequences of granting legal personhood to fetuses.
For instance, as Georgia appellate attorney Andrew Fleischman has pointed out, the moment this bill takes effect on Jan. 1, 2020, the state will be illegally holding thousands of citizens in jail without bond.
That’s because, under HB 481, pregnant inmates’ fetuses have independent rights—including the right to due process. Can a juvenile attorney represent an inmate’s fetus and demand its release? If not, why? It is an egregious due process violation to punish one human for the crimes of another. If an inmate’s fetus is a human, how can Georgia lawfully detain it for a crime it did not commit?

I can think of many more fun and games when we accept the Russian matroshka doll view of human beings, the view that inside pregnant women are other human beings with equal rights.  Well, probably greater rights.

By No machine-readable author provided. Fanghong assumed (based on copyright claims). - No machine-readable source provided. Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=69399

For instance, because pregnancy is initially invisible to outsiders,  some kind of repeated pregnancy-testing would be required, not only for the purposes of say, census, but to make sure that no egg-American is possibly threatened by violence by the wrapper person.

And, of course, other fun possibilities abound:

HB 481 would also have consequences for women who get abortions from doctors or miscarry. A woman who seeks out an illegal abortion from a health care provider would be a party to murder, subject to life in prison. And a woman who miscarries because of her own conduct—say, using drugs while pregnant—would be liable for second-degree murder, punishable by 10 to 30 years’ imprisonment. Prosecutors may interrogate women who miscarry to determine whether they can be held responsible; if they find evidence of culpability, they may charge, detain, and try these women for the death of their fetuses.

In short, this whole bill would have the effect of making all adult human females in the fertile age ranges at most second-class citizens, with fewer rights** than adult human males in the same age ranges.  Like candy wrappers, the former would have to keep themselves smooth and clean before being used for that wrapping of the precious candy, then they would be carefully watched while the candy matures, and when the candy is ready the wrappers would be stripped away and tossed in the rubbish bin.

Sounds exaggerated?  How I hope that it does!

But consider the political effort and attention that goes to the myriad right-wing attempts in the US to make certain that women are nothing more than the outermost doll, the container, in a matroshka doll, and then consider the lack of political effort and attention in trying to make giving birth safer in the US, especially for black women and for all poor women without access to good prenatal care.

I know that laws like this one are created in the hope that they go to the Supreme Court and that Roe v. Wade is then overturned by all those right-wing male Justices who cannot ever be viewed as candy wrappers themselves. 

Still, their extreme form of the Georgia law (and a similar one from Alabama), especially when compared to the way this country views the risks of pregnancy to the pregnant woman, tells us that in a Republican-run world adult human females would not have the same rights as adult human males.

*  Maternal mortality rates are still quite low in the United States.  The concern is that they are rising, while the rates in other developed countries are not.

**  The differences in rights would certainly be seen in the labor force, where a pregnant woman in a potentially dangerous job could be argued to be endangering a minor, and in the military, where minors couldn't be sent to war zones and so on. 

And I seriously believe that this law would end up requiring annual pregnancy tests of all females who look like they might be able to conceive.  Your rights to do certain things in your life would then depend on the results of those tests.  A bit like virginity tests in some countries.

But these differences in rights are, of course, intended results by the right-wing Republicans who wish to return to a world where women don't leave their homes except to go grocery shopping or when they are finally carried out in the coffin.