Thursday, August 02, 2007

The A Word

Not that anyone who would disagree with me is likely to read this, but having waded through quite a few looooooong threads on the recent Ohio bill (ok I skimmed some) and the inevitable questions of rights, child support payments, etc. I just needed to say a few things just for the hell of it. But I don't really think they'd add much the the several hundred long comment, well, this is why I have my own blog.

1) When it comes to abortion, having equal reproductive rights does not mean that men have "veto power," "a say" (legally), or even the right to be notified regarding pregnancy. Why? because it's not your effing body.

"But, but, but, I have a right to have a say it what happens to my child!"

2) If the state does not have enough of an interest in the fetus' welfare to override my bodily autonomy and privacy, neither do you. Why? Because you only have rights as a parent because you are the custodian of your child's rights. If the fetus' rights don't supersede mine, neither do your rights as a potential parent.

"But, but, but, then I should get to opt out of child support payments!"

3) Child support payments are not a contract with the mother, they are a contract with the child. Not being legally able to override a woman's autonomy does not change your responsibilities as custodian of your child's welfare and rights.

Or, as EG states over at feministing, Your complaint is really that biology is unequal. "[W]omen take on by far a greater burden when it comes to reproduction, and thus the stage of pregnancy falls into the purview of women's bodily integrity rather than men's." In other words, the fact that you are not the one pregnant means that you don't get to make legal decisions about pregnancy, but that has no bearing on the rights your child has. Biology is something that laws can work around (ie, does equal number of bathroom stalls mean equivalent number, or proportional to the number needed?), but it's not something that laws can change.


100LittleDolls said...

Well said.

I'm continuously irked about debates about abortion because it is so often taken out of context that it is a health procedure. For women.

I can't shake the feeling that one of the other purposes behind these "notices" besides, of course, making it more difficult for a woman to obtain an abortion, is too also have yet another way to make her wait until it's too late for her to get the procedure.

Mickle said...

mmmm...good point.

And yeah, that bugs me too. The number of times pro-choice people in these debates feel the need to say "um, did you forget that there is a person who is having the pregnancy?" is a little ridiculous.

BetaCandy said...

Yeah, when women are more easy to rape and beat up than men, that's just too bad because that's biology, and we should STFU complaining about it. But when biology leaves the gestation period in the hands of women, God must've made a mistake! He'd want men to tie women down and force them to carry to term! Yes, it all makes such sense!

/vomits from toxic levels of sarcasm

Mickle said...


Women being more physicaly vulnerable is something that the law may not be able to change, but it certainly has the responsibility to address.

Until someone invents an artificial womb or a way for men to become pregnant, there's really no way for the law to address the inequality of pregnancy.

(Well, technically, the governement can adress it by inacting policies meant to foster communication and understanding between potential parents. But no law is going to do that, just the sort of social programs that are often considered big government.)

I don't think that womb envy is overriding explanation for sexism, but it does seem to crop up a lot in abortion debates.

Mickle said...

oh! and 100littledolls

Several people have actually done the research, and because of how far along the pregnancy needs to be to do paternity tests, it would push some abortions into the second trimester.

Not to mention the isse of having to file a report that one was raped, and how much extra time that might take. (Or the absolute idiocy of such a law to begin with. I can't even find a good noise word to express my disgust at the idea.)

100LittleDolls said...


Sometimes I really do hate the world.

Lyle said...

Y'know, along this topic I remember back when I was in high school, I read that some clinics that performed abortions would try to get the "parents" (is there a better word in this case?) to go through couples counciling first... mostly as a way to get them to talk about a highly emotional issue with a professional mediator. While I agree with the phrase "the father should get a say" I think that's as far as it should go -- a "say" is not a decision, just the chance to state his case.

One thing that frustrates me, though, about pro-choice advocates is I wish they'd talk about more than abortion. The same groups that want to ban abortion also work to make it harder to get birth control. For the most part, it seems like I mostly see bloggers making that connection. I don't know if that's still the case, but when I was in HS one anti-abortion argument was "there are these irresponsible women who use abortion as their form of birth control..." I've seen that can be an effective argument, but that loses it's power when you point out that the same people who say they don't want women to abort pregnancies they could have prevented don't want them preventing those pregnancies either.

BetaCandy said...

I don't think that womb envy is overriding explanation for sexism, but it does seem to crop up a lot in abortion debates.

I think it's more fear than envy: the womb is so essential to reproduction (and in a patriarchy, the all-important providing of sons to fathers), and it's ironically the one part of the process that's not at all under men's control. Unless they can intimidate or physically restrain women into letting men tell them what to do with their bodies.

I'm just really curious to know where all the unapologetic deadbeat dads who bragged about finding ways to keep "the bitch" from collecting her child support have gone. Did they all really grow up and become decent dad-types? Or, you know, did they lose the child support battle so now they're back with this, "Poor little fetus" routine that's really all about controlling "the bitches" yet again?

That's my suspicion - that a lot of these people professing such concern for the unborn are the same ones who couldn't give a rat's ass about the kids they know they have. And I'm including deadbeat moms in that group, too.

Mickle said...

Lyle - that's a really good point (about what candidates talk about). And while I think that you are right about bloggers doing it more than candidates. Organizations like NOW certainly talk about birth control, but it doesn't get as much air time as when they talk about abortion. I suspect that creates a negative feedback loop, so that even they talk about it less than they ought to.

Along those lines, one of the more interesting developments lately has been shifting the focus from birth control and abortion to reproductive rights in general in order to include the types of obstacles that minority women are more likely to face: such as opposition to them being parents, forced (or pressured) sterilization, and the like. It doesn't happen often enough (I plead guilty) but I know I'm hearing about it more.

And yes, I also agree with you about the type of "say" potential fathers (that's generally the term I use on blogs, but irl it's a bit too wieldy) should have. I don't like the idea of a bunch of hurdles for women who want abortions in the abstract, but in practical terms, that's the kind of social program I was referring to in my post. Yes, it's a law, but it's not an absolute one (the woman is not required to produce a partner) and the cost of the law comes from a social program, not enforcement.


My guess is that a lot of times they are the same people. Sometimes they've lost child support cases and so have shifted their rhetoric. Other times they just say one thing one day and another the next. The goal is often the same in the end - to be able to have sex without consequences, no matter whom it hurts.

"And I'm including deadbeat moms in that group, too."

I do wonder sometimes if all this isn't their guilty conscience talking. As if being against abortion lets them tell themselves that at least they would never do that.

Mickle said...


I realized that my bit about social programs is not in the post. I must have written that in the comments of another blog. So to clarify:

Social programs and institutions fostering good communication between potential parents = good. (institutions like, you know, marriage)

Laws that ignore the fact that the pregnancy is taking place inside only one of the potential parents bodies = bad.