(This is the political post that would normally have gone on Monday, if my brain hadn’t been fried by indexing).
Echidne of the Snakes sums up the right-wing view of pregnancy thus: “The right-wing in this country wants to socialize decisions about conception, about pregnancy and even about giving birth, but once a child is born, everything should be privatized: Almost all responsibility is saddled on the shoulders of the mothers, while the wider conservative society, in general, refuses to budge one inch from its traditional gendered expectations about the role of mothers” (hence the title of this post).
As noted at the link, Ohio has just passed a law banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detectable — never mind that heartbeat isn’t a measure of life (hospitals can harvest organs from brain-dead people with functioning hearts). And similar extreme bills are on the way.
As I pointed out in one of my older And columns, the rights of the fetus aren’t simply being considered, they’re being used (whether that’s the intent or not) to strip away the rights of any pregnant woman. The right not to confine herself to bed rest without a second medical opinion. To not have a Caesarian. To have a legal drink. Women have gotten into legal trouble for exercising all those rights. As Echidne has put it, the women are being treated as aquariums — their bodies are simply convenient containers for the real person inside. For example, we have media discussions of how women of childbearing age should consider themselves potentially pregnant — they might be pregnant without knowing it, so maybe they’d better skip those prescription painkillers (or whatever).
Birth control can help with that, of course, but Trump’s new healthcare nominee, Tom Price, is a forced-birther. As is Mike Pence, who thinks all miscarriages should be given burial or cremation, mandatory, as if they were actual children (Slacktivist has pointed out what a weird concept that is). And contrary to the right-to-life movement’s lies, they are punishing the mothers.
Meanwhile Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, says mothers shouldn’t take high-powered jobs (in the White House say), though she later said the context was distorted and of course women are welcome in the White House (of course saying so doesn’t prove anything — but much as I loathe the new administration, it’s worth noting). But as Echidne says, the right-wing’s been pretty clear on how women should stay home and breed, the white nationalists who adore Trump even more so (gotta breed children for the Reich, so to speak). Making it harder for women to avoid pregnancy (at least without staying virgin or sticking to oral sex) then excluding them from jobs because they’re pregnant would suit much of the right just fine.
And yet it’s a safe bet that for all the concern about the suffering fetuses, Republicans will do nothing to help with prenatal care or treatment — in fact their proposed changes to ACA could make things worse for women needing maternity care. Like Echidne says, privatizing the costs. Even if a rape victim gets pregnant — something that’s clearly not her choice — and the government refuses to let her abort, the right will still squeal at the thought of paying any medical bills. Never mind that good care is expensive, and important for both parties. All we’ll hear is about how sure, they’d love to help, but some slut might just exploit “Uncle Sugar” (in theocrat Mike Huckabee’s words) and get him to give her a freebie when she wasn’t raped at all.
Because if it was real rape she wouldn’t get pregnant.
Because God arranged that rape so she’d better have the baby.
And better a thousand women and their children suffer from lack of medical care than one human being get something she’s not entitled to.
Maybe it’s time for us to stop playing nice and get as extreme as the forced-birthers. No compromise on women’s rights to choose: if she’s in labor and changes her mind, just kill the fetus. Then we’ll graciously compromise from that position to something less extreme. Hey, it worked for the other side!