20 Mar 2012

So many wars are being waged on women across the USA

...that it can be hard to know where to begin. One piece of legislation that really got me thinking - amongst all the other pieces of woman-hating guff - was the bill currently being debated in Kansas which would effectively allow doctors to lie to pregnant women if the doctor believes that imparting certain information to a woman might cause her to have an abortion. It's pretty stunning in its naked contempt for women, and I don't think I need to analyse how it's just one in a long line of bills that treat women as a) worth of less rights than a foetus and b) complete morons incapable of knowing their own minds or making informed decisions. However, it did get me thinking how anti-choicers love to point to the 'eugenics' of abortion. A commentator on the Guardian argued that feminists had no right to get up in arms about sex-selective abortion whilst at the same time arguing for abortion on demand, and without apology. I can understand that, if you're already anti-choice, no reason for obtaining an abortion is going to wash with you, and if feminists want to protect female foetuses from being 'unjustly' aborted, then anti-choicers can't understand why the same protection isn't afforded to foetuses with Downs syndrome, cerebral palsy, spina bifida, cystic fibrosis.

Well, let's start with the consideration that being aborted because you're female, and being denied an abortion, actually emanate from the same poisonous root - a society that views women as inferior. A female foetus is not a disabled one unless the society it is going to be born into pushes it into that narrow box. However, a foetus with cystic fibrosis is sadly always going to be disabled however many accommodations society makes for it. The child it grows into will spend a short, painful, illness-ridden life enduring daily aggressive pummellings to stop it drowning in the fluid that accumulates in its lungs. And that's probably one of the milder examples of how disability will affect a child's, and their parents', life. I've worked with disabled children. I've seen parents wracked with guilt over sending their child to disabled boarding schools because they can no longer cope with the violent rages of their autistic son, or their 18 year-old daughter's incontinence. I've seen plenty of couples split from the stress of trying to raise a severely disabled child. I've seen parents who will never do what other parents do - see their grown child 'fly the nest', because their child is so disabled it will either have to live with those parents until they die, or be institutionalised for life. And what I've gleaned from that is twofold - one, that parents who raise disabled children do a 24/7 job so hard it would slay most of us, and thus deserve our utmost respect, and that two, no one should EVER EVER EVER be forced into that role.

But that's exactly what the Kansas bill would do - force women to give birth to disabled or deformed children; or worse, suffer serious, possibly even fatal, health complications from carrying to term a non-viable foetus. It would also deny parents who fully intend to go through with a pregnancy regardless of disability, the chance to learn about their child's condition and prepare for the arrival of a baby who will need massive amounts of help, both practical and financial, just to live from day-to-day. But, should this contempt for women and potential parents be any surprise when recently this country has seen bills introduced which would let women die in order to save a foetus? The only surprise is that all women of childbearing age haven't packed their bags and left these shores in disgust - but I guess like this legal alien, some of them are willing to stay and fight.

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