Posts Tagged ‘reproductive rights’

One important aspect that seems to have been largely left out of the debate on forced and unnecessarily penetrative medical procedures for women, which is becoming legally mandated in a number of states of the USA, is the role of the doctors performing these procedures. In particular, those who morally disagree with the mandate just as much as the lay folk who’ve been protesting it.

It’s not like medical professionals don’t have their own strong opinions about patient care, after all. Most of them wouldn’t be happy to simply carry blithely on with an invasive medical procedure that they thought was traumatising and unnecessary. Aren’t some of them outraged as well? Aren’t some of them standing up against this?


An anonymous medical acquaintance of John Scalzi’s has guest-posted on his blog, calling for what they call “a little old-fashioned civil disobedience”. After several points of advice as to how physicians who “should” be performing these procedures can respond ethically, here’s the conclusion:

It comes down to this: When the community has failed a patient by voting an ideologue into office… When the ideologue has failed the patient by writing legislation in his own interest instead of in the patient’s… When the legislative system has failed the patient by allowing the legislation to be considered… When the government has failed the patient by allowing something like this to be signed into law… We as physicians cannot and must not fail our patients by ducking our heads and meekly doing as we’re told.

Because we are their last line of defense.

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Lawmakers have found another handy way of pretending to themselves that the law they’re trying to enact doesn’t amount to sexual assault: Stop using actual words to describe women and the female anatomy.

It’s not an area where the details really matter, after all. It all just boils down to “trans-V this, and trans-V that“, blah blah blah. And what can be the harm in a little trans-V somethingorother?

Argh. People are terrible.

I generally agree with Feministing’s suggested new rules for vaginaphobes who want to pass these kinds of laws. I might go a bit less far in presuming to know quite what’s going on in your head if you’re that uncomfortable with these anatomical terms, but anything you’re going to pass a law about – particularly a law mandating physical insertion of a foreign body into a person’s orifice – deserves to be taken seriously. And that emphatically includes vaginas. Your inability to describe them in normal, grown-up language doesn’t speak well to your capacity for giving the subject the consideration it deserves.

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Don’t you miss the good old days, back when abortions in the USA happened about as often as they do nowadays, but thousands of women died every year?

No? Well, Rick Santorum does.

This is just another example of the dangers of letting religious ideology motivate your moral principles. Some Christians say atheists can’t be moral because we have no overruling guiding force to tell us what’s right and wrong. I say we have a much better shot than some Christians, who willingly submit to an overruling force that entirely shuts down their capacity to think for their damn selves.

Seriously, I’m willing to take Rick Santorum at his word on this. He thinks our approach to women’s health was better in the days when “people who did abortions were, you know, in the shadows”. Which was because many of these medical procedures – perhaps as many as 1.2 million a year – couldn’t be performed by qualified professionals in appropriate hospital settings, and hundreds of women a year were dying as a result, well into the 1960s (on top of numerous others suffering complications).

So the country Rick Santorum wants to run is one in which thousands of women die needlessly, and millions of eggs continue to be fertilised and reach the early stages of development before being terminated, but in which his conscience is clear because he can claim to have followed his own interpretation of his religious ideology to the letter. The fact that abortion is less common in countries where it’s legal? Not important. It’s the principle of the thing, and if that means the unnecessary deaths of people who won’t do what they’re told, so be it.

It’s either that or he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.

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– “Different ideas are CONFUSING! I’m going to go have Satan’s abortion!

Lying about the political process is a fundamental right that some brave lobbyists are fighting to protect. (h/t Broadsnark)

– More dehumanising Republican logic in action. If a woman was willing to let someone’s penis inside them, it’s hypocritical for her to object when the government wants to shove some medical devices in there as well. Yes, people in positions of elected authority are actually arguing this. (Edit: Forgot the link for this one the first time.)

– Jesus and Mo try swapping religions. How do they believe all that shit?

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– Some staff in a Rhode Island school still want to push their religious privilege. But they recently lost a vote to keep wasting taxpayer money and breaking the law. Yay!

– The Sun loves dawn raids by police (except when it happens to them).

– Rick Santorum’s got a new description for how gay marriage is ruining the world: it “waters down” hetero marriage. Which of course is meaningless, does nothing to explain how anyone else’s marriage is affected by allowing same-sex couples these basic rights, and continues to ignore whether divorce and other straight-marriage problems aren’t just as damaging.

– Let’s see… If we’re going to discuss legislation surrounding women’s health services and reproductive rights, who is it probably quite important that we invite to the hearing?

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Ah, America. Sweet land of liberty. Home to so many rights and freedoms. Speech, religion, suffrage, ownership of property, dressing your pets up in people clothes and making them dance. Those USAnians have it all.

Of course, it’s not always been such a bastion of equality and fairness. It took a while before the above rights were extended to women or the insufficiently pale, after all. And there’s still a long way to go.

Today we’re saddened by the prevalence of racism in generations past. But how will our children’s children view our own callous refusal to grant all basic human rights to all human or potentially human beings, from the very moment of conception? For the love of God, won’t somebody please think of the just-fertilised eggs??

Yes, this was a real bill, really being considered by lawmakers in Oklahoma recently. But don’t worry: Sarcasm to the rescue!

However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and construed as an action against an unborn child.

That was an amendment put forward by a State Senator rather effectively trying to make fun of the bill’s content. It was withdrawn fairly swiftly after making its intended point, and before making any significant impact. (No, that’s not what she said. Stop that. This is serious political news.)

Anyway, I’m in something of a quandary over this.

Am I glad that there are lawmakers out there with a sense of humour, who have the nerve to take a comical stand against the kind of ridiculous ideological nonsense that some of their colleagues are trying to push through?

Or am I even more depressed that this is what constitutes a constructive work-day for the people who run the world and decide what rules are imposed on the rest of us?

In even less cheery news, Typhonblue points out another aspect of how messed up a lot of the laws about parental obligation already are, and how liable they are to seriously screw over men as well as women. Whether it’s technically legally true that men are always “strictly liable for where their sperm ends up”, I don’t know, but it doesn’t look like there are many cases around where it goes their way, even when they allege rape or simply theft.

Here’s a worrying-sounding sentence from one case in New York (emphasis mine):

But respondent’s constitutional entitlement to avoid procreation does not encompass a right to avoid a child support obligation simply because another private person has not fully respected his desires in this regard. However unfairly respondent may have been treated by petitioner’s failure to allow him an equal voice in the decision to conceive a child, such a wrong does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation.

Which seems to indicate that your sperm are your own liability, even if you don’t consent to or cooperate with their use in any given way. If you’re the father of a child, it doesn’t matter whether you had careless or deliberate unprotected sex, or you were kidnapped and milked for your precious bodily fluids. Once it’s biologically your kid, it’s your financial burden whatever your level of involvement.

The whole thing’s screwy in too many ways to count.

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