It won’t happen, but IF it does…

I would like Steve King to understand that even if the US Gov manages to force me to have babies (which is bloody unlikely), they will probably be mixed-race babies. Not saying that to spite anyone, not saying the existence of biracial people negates racism. Just saying, I live in a very diverse area and it’s too late to stuff that genie back in the bottle.

You guys really want more of me running around?

To all the conservative dudes always harping on about how we crazed feminazis want you to pay for our birth control…

…well, actually, unless you’re paying our insurance premiums for us, you ain’t payin’ for shit around here, but even if we wanted you to shell out for our contraceptives, here’s the thing:

I know the overall goal is for more unplanned babies in general, but think about this: if more of us are giving birth, the overwhelming majority of us are keeping the babies. And do you really want us raising the next generation? Do you really look at my foul-mouthed, wine-chugging, queer, casual-sex-having, atheist, tattooed, fat ass and say, “I want to see more people like that in the world”? I guarantee you the moment we get medical marijuana in Maryland, I’m gettin’ me a prescription. I’d do shrooms if I had a reliable source. I use profanity around toddlers. Do you really want me to be someone’s mommy? 

Face it, birth control without co-pay is good for all of us.

Tired of this basic-ass shit

Just spotted this putz on Twitter:

mattgarzadeleteyouraccount

Yeah, first of all, if you’re going to tag your Tweet as “just saying,” try spelling “just” correctly. Not the sort of thing that requires an advanced degree.

I am so far past DONE debating reproductive rights at this level. Abstinence is not a contraceptive strategy, it is a condition defined by absence. Being in a situation in which you don’t need contraception, is in itself NOT a contraceptive method. You’re not having sex? That’s fine! It’s not a position from which to determine health coverage policy.

Most of all, I am not the least bit interested in playing this game where some lying fuckhead says “well if you don’t want a baby then don’t have sex” and I respond as if this person actually expects us to stop having sex. I no longer accept that premise. They don’t realistically expect us to swear off sexual activity, and they would not be happy if we did so.

The difference between the alleged sexual profligacy of “this generation” and the supposed restraint of previous generations is that we no longer see a virtue in systemically punishing fertile young women for doing what everyone does when they get the chance. We are not interested in going back to the era of pregnant women hiding out in homes for unwed mothers, and their offspring growing up in orphanages. We don’t want to produce even more hungry mouths to grow up to become cheap labor and cannon fodder, and we don’t think that makes us less virtuous than our ancestors who had no better options.

Couchsurfing for abortion access

Is there a social network or database of people who live in states with pretty liberal abortion rights, who are willing to host pregnant people who need to travel to get abortions?

Because I live in Maryland, and I’ve got couch space available for people coming from Ohio. Must play nicely with my cat. Free lodging, food, Internet, reading material, and I’ll give you a ride to and from the Metro station. Ask nicely and I’ll pay for Lyft rides to and from the clinic.

Cargo Cult Social Justice: You’re Fooling No One

I’d like to talk about the rhetorical tactics on display by these forced-birth women claiming to be feminists:

According to Murphy, “the central tenement of feminism is equality for human beings regardless of sex, gender, orientation, race, religion,” and that concept should extend to unborn children. “To devalue the preborn life simply because of their location or of their dependency is an act of discrimination,” she said. “In what good society does improving one side of human rights involve harming and causing violence to other human beings?”

The word you want is “tenet,” not “tenement,” for fuck’s sake.

This type of argumentation is what I call “cargo cult social justice.” It’s where regressive social movements—and opposition to legal abortion is absolutely regressive—appropriate the language of progressive movements and think it works the same way. Ms. Murphy’s use of social-justice-derived language to support the cause of forcing women to have babies is especially transparent, but she’s far from alone in this.

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A pro-choice mother is not an oxymoron.

We have the news that Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL, is now expecting her first two children. There are some anti-abortion activists who find this really confusing.

The reaction beyond NARAL, however, has been much more complicated, Hogue says. “There is this whole mentality that anyone who fights for the rights that we fight for must hate children and not want to parent,” she says. “So to have the leader of a reproductive rights organization — an abortion rights organization — show up pregnant, it’s just jaw-dropping.”

At one point, she says, she walked into a hearing on Capitol Hill and an antiabortion advocate looked at her swollen belly and asked, “Is that real?”

There’s no good reason why it should be jaw-dropping for a reproductive rights leader to show up with a baby bump. There’s no conflict between advocating for the option of legal, safe abortion care, and having babies. Perhaps the name of the organization (National Abortion Rights Action League) causes a teensy bit of confusion, but I assure that “abortion rights” is not equivalent to “compulsory abortion.” Plenty of pro-choice feminists are also mothers. This is possible because sometimes, people actually want to have children. They don’t need to be forced, and they shouldn’t be forced.

Their confusion over Ms. Hogue’s pregnancy sort of gives the impression that anti-abortion activism is premised on a view of children as a burden, and that people will only become parents if they see no choice in the matter.

I’m sure the majority of anti-abortion activists don’t think this way. I’m sure most see nothing wrong with Ms. Hogue becoming a mother to twins. I sure hope so.

Also: Congratulations, Ms. Hogue! Yay, babies!

Ireland’s acting like the setting of a dystopian novel.

This is the sort of thing that happens when a suicidal woman requests an abortion in Ireland.

The poor girl must have been devastated. She was certainly traumatised enough to go on hunger and fluid strike. The HSE went to the High Court to get a care order to prevent her from starving herself. Eventually, she surrendered and allowed the baby to be delivered by Caesarean section sometime between 23 and 25 weeks.

She did what the law asked of her: presented herself to a panel of three psychiatrists and told them about her suicidal ideation. The psychiatrists agreed that she was a suicide risk and should be allowed a termination, but the obstetrician stepped in and insisted that the pregnancy was far along enough for a live delivery and therefore MUST have a live delivery.

She tried starving herself. No, she wasn’t allowed to starve; the state took her in and forced her not to starve or dehydrate. As long as she was pregnant, she did not have permission to die.

This is only a couple of steps removed from the setting of a dystopian novel I was working on (now shelved indefinitely) around the same time as beginning my urban fantasy work; in present-day Ireland, they only keep her hooked up for a short time, and they don’t appear to be forcing psychotropic drugs on her, but still, this is a very Handmaid’s Tale way to treat a young woman who doesn’t want to be pregnant.

Something tells me they don’t roll out the protective orders for suicidal people who aren’t pregnant. Now that the baby is out, there’s nothing stopping her from killing herself.

Delivery at 25 weeks is nearly the bare minimum required for a fetus to survive delivery. There’s a reason why nearly all parents with wanted pregnancies keep them going closer to 40 weeks if at all possible. Staying alive after such a premature birth is doable, but it’s not healthy.

The physical effects (her mental health is clearly irrelevant as far as the state is concerned) of Cesarean section are far from trivial, especially compared to abortion. She’s been forced into a major operation, with permanent effects, in order to deliver an extremely premature infant whom she did not want to conceive in the first place and will not raise.

I do understand where the Irish government is coming from, in handling such cases this way. If one pregnant woman can say she’s suicidal and get a safe abortion in an Irish hospital, it won’t be long until ALL women with unwanted pregnancies can get terminations just by claiming to have suicidal thoughts. Before you know it, the Republic of Ireland will be known as a country where any woman can get a pregnancy terminated legally by a qualified doctor. Everyone knows Ireland is supposed to outsource their abortion care to Great Britain. Anything less is a travesty. The woman in this case was unable to travel to the UK for a legal abortion. I’m seeing from other sources that she is not an Irish national, so it’s probably an immigration concern that kept her from making the trip. It’s the most disadvantaged and desperate women who can be forced to keep their pregnancies to the point of just barely viability, and who can be taken into state custody to keep from starving themselves. Those with more control over their life circumstances can exercise their right to reproductive freedom in other countries.

But that said, how far does it have to go? How many more women have to go on hunger strike, or successfully kill themselves, before the Irish government decides that allowing legal abortion to happen within its own borders would not be the worst thing ever? How many women will they incarcerate and force into major abdominal surgery for the sake of barely viable micro-preemies before they start re-examining their priorities?

A relationship in which equal rights do not exist.

If you’re involved in the secular community, you may have noticed recently that some people have said/done some things regarding the debate over abortion rights that some of us uterus-bearers think the secular community could do without. I’m on Greta’s side in this one: fuck that shit. Go look at #UpForDebate to see how we feel about calmly and rationally debating our rights in keeping a handle on our lives. (Note: if that hashtag discussion seems grotesque and barbaric, that’s the point. That’s how it looks to us secular uterus-having feminists when we’re asked to debate abortion rights like we don’t have a knife held to our throat.) Anyway, I just want to examine the “secular pro-life” argument which PZ held up for our vegetable-throwing, as amplified without criticism by Hemant Mehta. This is what Ms. Kruszelnicki, the Pro-Life Humanist (*ahem* womb-controller who doesn’t believe in God**), says to defend her position:

If the fetus is not a human being with his/her own bodily rights, it’s true that infringing on a woman’s body by placing restrictions on her medical options is always a gross injustice and a violation. On the other hand, if we are talking about two human beings who should each be entitled to their own bodily rights, in the unique situation that is pregnancy, we aren’t justified in following the route of might-makes-right simply because we can.

Emphasis mine.

What happens when both a woman and her developing fetus are regarded as human beings entitled to personhood and bodily rights? Any way you cut it, their rights are always going to conflict (at least until womb transfers become a reality). So what’s the reasonable response? It could start by treating both parties at conflict as if they were equal human beings.

Emphasis hers.

The nature of pregnancy means that there can be no equal rights between gestational parent* and fetus. Everything the pregnant person eats, drinks or breathes goes to the fetus, and there’s nothing the fetus can do about that. If the pregnant person doesn’t get enough sleep, or exercises the wrong way, it can put the fetus at risk. If the pregnant person does drugs, especially the totally legal alcohol, that can permanently and adversely affect the fetus’s well-being. The fetus is completely helpless and dependent on its gestational parent. Basically, the fetus has no way to assert its bodily rights. The fetus doesn’t make decisions. It consumes, grows, develops, eliminates, and after a certain point it also moves around. But it doesn’t get a choice in what it consumes, and it doesn’t have the neural equipment to communicate its preferences even if it had any.

I am even so bold as to say that the concept of “bodily rights” is meaningless when we’re talking about a fetus. The fetus’s rights can only be decided externally, and they can only be enforced by a third party having control over a pregnant person’s life for the duration of the pregnancy. Unless the gestational parent is under lock and key, the fetus is at the mercy of their whims.

Which means that if the gestational parent doesn’t want to be pregnant, upholding equal rights between parent and fetus is a very sticky situation, at best. Which is why we get these cases of pregnancy losses*** being handled as criminal cases.

If there’s a conflict between the bodily rights of the pregnant person and the rights of the fetus, then one side must be held as superior over the other. If the pregnant person is barred from having a safe abortion, then the fetus clearly has more rights. If the pregnant person must fit some narrowly defined criteria before they can access abortion care (as Ms. Kruszelnicki would have it) then the fetus’s rights are undeniably held as superior.

The “pro-life” position is really that the fetus gets all the protections and the pregnant person bears all the restrictions and responsibilities. This isn’t a state of equality. The fetus is in a position of desperate dependency on the ability and willingness of its gestational parent to take care of demself*. They’d be a lot more honest if they dropped the pretense of equality and simply admitted straight out that they want us uterus-bearers to bend our lives around our pregnancy outcomes because babies deserve that level of dedication. Really, that’s what they’re talking about. They want us to sacrifice our bodily autonomy in the interests of making more babies. A situation of “equal rights” never seems to conclude on the side of the person who’s pregnant and doesn’t want to be.

*Not all uterus-bearers have female gender identities. Trans men and non-binary assigned-female-at-birth people can also make babies. This is why I use terms like uterus-bearer, gestational parent and pregnant person rather than pregnant woman. Let’s not deny the existence of non-cisgender people who might give birth.

**I do not accept the term “pro-life” to describe the anti-abortion position, and this will not change in the foreseeable future. I’d rather work with a pro-choice person of faith than an atheist who thinks I can be compelled to give birth.

***Seriously, look at this shit. Look at where the concern for “fetal rights” leads in the lives of vulnerable and troubled people.

Mike Huckabee’s pants are pre-soaked in gasoline.

Just the other day, former GOP Clown Car Participant Mike Huckabee got in front of the camera and said something about how to reach out to female voters. These are the words that came out of his mouth (screen-capped from Jezebel):

He doesn't even believe this. His pants have been on fire for so long, he no longer feels a burning sensation.

He doesn’t even believe this. His pants have been on fire for so long, he no longer feels a burning sensation.

I will save you the trouble of trying to parse out the meaning behind his rhetoric.

The meaning is that Mike Huckabee is a Fucking Liar.

He slurps down a Bullshit Smoothie for breakfast and shits out nonsense just before lunch. He is the Lyingest Liar Who Ever Lied. He doesn’t just twist the truth or cherry-pick the facts. His message is completely alienated from the Truth. He hasn’t heard from the Truth in years. The Truth filed a restraining order against his sorry candy ass after she finally escaped the chains he’d installed in the secret room in his basement.

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Family planning “advice” that works for no one.

I would like to co-sign this rebuttal by Natasha Chart on the expenses that pregnancy and childbirth tend to incur. I will especially highlight this passage here, as this is the tabula rasa of basically every abortion debate:

Lastly, though she mentioned it first, Fiano complained about my lack of discussion of personal responsibility, lamenting sarcastically that “it’s cruel to expect women to abstain from sex if they aren’t ready for a baby.” In a word, yes. That’s cruel.

Sex drive is basic to human nature. We’ve been having sex as a species for a long time—close to 200,000 years by now if you believe in the same science that gives us miracles like advanced antibiotics and level 3 neonatal intensive care units—and many of us are sick of being made to feel guilty about it.

I’m going to take it as a given that Fiano disapproves of sex outside of marriage. And I’m going to guess that when she talks about personal responsibility, it’s code for the people the forced birth movement always acts like they’re talking about exclusively: childless, unmarried teens and early 20-somethings. (Nothing gets their predominately male audience frothing like young girls having unauthorized sex, and Fiano clearly knows her audience.) This creepy voyeurism is stomach turning and is probably at least as much to blame as widespread racism for the conservative movement’s demographic death spiral.

Even as a married woman, I reject the idea that sex should always be about being ready for a baby. No matter how guilty many people feel in public when they’re shamed into mumbling their agreement about the evils of “irresponsible” sex, not all married people are always ready for a baby, even if they already have children.

To be more clear, if Fiano isn’t planning to join the Quiverfull movement, or isn’t one of the less than 20 percent of Catholics who agree with the church hierarchy on contraception, to suggest that women (not men, naturally) should abstain from sex if we don’t want babies is an extreme minority position. If she is planning to do something like that, well, there’s a reason the Duggars have a reality TV show—because most modern U.S. citizens have decided not to live like that.

Emphasis mine. I should change that clause to “precious few married people are always ready for a baby, especially if they already have children.” When anti-choicers tell us “If you don’t want a baby, then don’t have sex” as if we’re too stupid to have known already that vaginal intercourse is the cause of pregnancy, they’re proposing a system of family planning that nobody actually practices. No one really controls their reproduction by never having sex, ever, in the years when they’re not interested in creating new humans. Try telling a married new dad that not only does he have to wait for his wife to recover from childbirth before he can have sex with her again, he has to wait the next year and a half or so until she’s ready to get pregnant again. Seriously? He’ll be having none of that. The idea isn’t really for long-term abstinence to become the new birth control; the idea is for births to be uncontrolled and for women to take the blame for not putting Bayer aspirin between their knees.

Non-procreative sex isn’t just a part of life, it’s a vital part of building families. The supposedly simple formula of “no sex until you’re ready for babies” is cruel precisely because it’s unrealistic.