Feb 11 2006

Human Rights Post # 176

I’ve said it all before, but this morning I am moved to reiterate some pro-choice outrage after reading about a new regulation in Thailand allowing insane women, and women carrying genetically messed-up fetuses, to get abortions. The regulation represents a loosening of restrictions, which sort of loosening I generally applaud, but no news blurb on abortion ever fails to get stuck somewhere the Twisty craw. This time it’s the obligatory disclaimer from the Thai health minister, who said that “the regulation was not meant to make abortion easy.”

In other words, “you bitches gotta suffer.”

Punishing women for getting pregnant is bloodsport in Dudeville. If you’re a teenager you get kicked out of school. If you’re working you get laid off. If you were raped your brothers kill you. If you’re a drug addict you get thrown in jail. If your kid has low birth weight you’re charged with neglect. If you get murdered your fetus gets more column inches than you do. Even if you’re a properly married Jesus-American lady, you get the stink-eye when you have a glass of Chardonnay at dinner, and you’re forced to wear unbelievably ugly clothes with bows on’em.

But if you quite reasonably wish not to endure the grueling condition of pregnancy, because after all you’re a bright young thing who should be out hoisting cups of wassail and writing edgy first novels, lookout. I mean, look the fuck out.

“We might let you have an abortion, but only if you admit how sorry you are that you so irresponsibly had sex, and only if you agree to have a nervous breakdown afterward because you feel so guilty about murdering your baby. OK? Now, swim the backstroke across this river of shit while singing “The Star Spangled Banner,” and watch this film strip about the joys of adoption, and get a permission slip from your poor mother, whose heart you have broken with your slutty ways.”

It is incomprehensible that politicians—some of the most narcissistic, perfidious, and least enlightened asshole white dudes on the planet—and judges—who maybe don’t say “in regards to” as often, but who are nevertheless just as white and dudely, and who are sworn to further the inviolate objectives of patriarchy no matter how oppressive— have the slightest say in the manner in which a private citizen decides to dispatch clumps of cells infesting her own personal bodily tissues. Yet there they are, puffing their lips in and out, basking in the golden glow of their entitlement, pretending to care about babies when it’s fetuses they’re really pretending care about, and they’re only pretending to care about fetuses because it gives them ownership of uteruses, without which ownership the whole sacred system of penis-placement crashes. “Fetal rights” is a smokescreen. Its real purpose is to breathe new life into good old American misogynist legislation, which, let’s face it, really took a hit when chicks got the vote.

When some pious, pink-faced old gasbag, particularly since an accident of birth has conferred upon him immunity from the oppressive aftermath of his narrowminded pronouncements, inserts even one little punitive iota of an obstacle between a human being and her personal sovereignty, it’s a human rights violation.


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  1. Jodie

    Not only that, but if you never want kids and don’t have any and want a permanent solution, it’s very hard to get, and it’s harder to get the younger you are.

    Is that enough “ands” in one sentence for everyone? Good.

  2. morgan

    Yes, Jodie, I’ve been wanting to do the same thing. I don’t want children, because of health reasons but that doesn’t matter, I’m usually told things like, “You’ll change your mind in a few years” and “You can’t go back once you’ve done it, you know that right.” And good luck if you’re a dude too, my father wanted to get his own surgery, he did, but something went ‘wrong’ and 12 months later there’s my sister. Opps. The doctor kept telling him the same things the doctors told me. Except I didn’t get the added, “What if you get married again and your new wife wants children.” *shakes head*

  3. Kat

    Oh yeah, love the “don’t make abortions easy, because doing so would be tantamount to abortion on demand” morons. Isn’t abortion typically performed on a woman who has requested, or demanded it? Are they suggesting we only allow abortions for women who don’t want them? Jesus christ, I need to drink that bottle of vodka before my head explodes.

  4. bitchphd

    Brava, Twisty. Mind if I just plagiarize you shamelessly from here on out?

  5. ehj2

    dear bitchphd,

    regarding your comment, “brava, twisty. mind if i just plagiarize you shamelessly from here on out?”

    not that i have a right to an opinion on this or anything, but i need both of your voices just the way you are.

    my little cosmos would be bereft without either one of you.


  6. mythago

    properly married Jesus-American lady

    Well-Turned Phrase of the Year Award for twisty!

    Although, really, you should get the stink-eye for having Chardonnay with dinner. Have a decent wine that matches the food, for crissakes.

  7. jenofiniquity

    Jodie, even us relatively older types who already have kids run into the attitude that we just haven’t thought thought through this whole permanent solution thing. After my second miserable pregnancy (bed rest, depression, insane weight gain), I told my obgyn that I wanted my tubes tied once I delivered myself of the beloved little parasite that was sucking away my very life. I was 35, it was my second, I had done my proper womanly breeding duty – no problem, right? She questioned me tersely: what if this baby dies? What if you end up divorcing and want to have more children with your new partner? I just kept repeating BUT I NEVER WANT TO BE PREGANANT AGAIN NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. For her insistence that I didn’t know my own mind, you know who I blame.

  8. jenofiniquity

    Pregnant, that is. But I don’t want to be preganant, either.

  9. Cass

    You’re all missing the positive aspect of this, my friends. Just a few billion more “loosenings of restrictions”, and grudging admissions of the right of females to have some control over their lives; plus, perhaps, some divine intervention, and a few thousand more generations of human evolution, and we’ll perhaps be on the road to approaching something like true gender equality.

  10. CGG

    I hate how women are supposed to feel guilty about pretty much anything we do involving reproduction. Right now I catch crap left and right for not having a baby yet. The minute I do breed I just know those same people will be there to tell me how I’m doing everything wrong. We just can’t win.

  11. wordgirl

    If men were the ones who got pregnant, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.

  12. Ms Kate

    you get the stink-eye when you have a glass of Chardonnay at dinner, and you’re forced to wear unbelievably ugly clothes with bows on’em.

    This is why I made my own maternity clothing (and why every size 16 woman within three degrees of separation has inherited the collection). The bows ain’t the beginning of it – that shit is poorly made, crappy fabric and, what’s worse, it is all totally pooh infantalized.

    I also drank beer and challenged anyone who said otherwise to cite me the evidence of harm for one beer a week drinkers. I’m an epidemiologist – I know there wasn’t any. I can be a formidable bitch on my own turf.

  13. antelope

    If men were the ones who got pregnant – abortion would still be considered killing – it’s just that all his friends would throw a party for the dude & celebrate his macho act of destruction. I think part of what’s at stake here is not just control over women’s bodies, but preserving the principle that only men kill.

    (I don’t consider abortion killing myself, but I would still believe in a woman’s right to do it at any time & for any reason if I did. Killing to preserve your quality of life is the American Way.)

  14. Cass

    Now, if men and women could both bear children, abortion would be optional for them and mandatory, or close to it, for us. Aristotle would have written how female childbirth was just a pale imitation of those godlike masculine powers of reproduction; the scholastics would have noted how the children of females were morally weak and corruptible; 19th century scholars, how they spread disease and weaken the racial stock; and our modern day thinkers would no doubt find the problem of overpopulation entirely the fault of thoughtless female breeders.

    The Papacy would be a hereditary position.

    Mary wouldn’t exist, and Joseph damn sure wouldn’t be a virgin.

  15. Sibyl

    Allowing abortions only for fetuses who can be classified as undesirable — the deformed, the disabled, the potentially crazy — smacks of eugenics more than anything. Women may be required to have children under the patriarchy, but they are only permitted to give birth to children who are physically and mentally without flaw. Owning the womb confers the right to reject any substandard product thereof, along with the right to blame the woman for her attempted crime against society and racial purity.

  16. Chris Clarke

    If men were the ones who got pregnant – abortion would still be considered killing

    If men got pregnant, abortion would be considered hunting.

  17. Jennifer

    You’ll probably be interested in the recent abortion related vote in Australia (see here for details). Female senators voted 23-3 in favour. Male senators voted 25-22 against.

    And people wonder why it’s a good idea to have women as well as men in parliament!

  18. SisterJ

    Twisty, this goes well with news from Long Island. A Turkish-American girl (top student, loved by classmates, teachers, and friends) was charged with manslaughter this week after showing up at the hospital with her newborn baby daughter in a backpack. Dead.

    The baby apparently drowned when the teen gave birth in the shower – and was afraid to tell her parents. The girl stayed in the shower for several hours after giving birth, then sought medical attention when the placenta failed to come out.

    Of course, no one is asking why she was so afraid of her parents. Or why this obviously intelligent girl did not have access to an abortion. Or why the baby’s father, who drove her to the hospital, has not been charged with a crime (since he obviously knew she was giving birth without assistance). Isn’t he responsible for the fetus, too? Since life begins at conception and all…

  19. Suzanne

    I am sure that I could write a verbose comment about all the reasons I agree with most everything Twisty says in this blog, and, moreover, with the way she says it, but I’m on a deadline at work, so I am delurking here to simply say, “I adore you, Twisty, and all that you write.” I read you daily.

  20. Wordlackey

    After a couple of scary pregnancy scares, I got my tubes tied at age 21 with remarkably little hassle in the late 1970s. Oh, yeah, right. I’m a dude, of course they’re not going to question my resolve or whether I’ve thought it through. Silly me.

  21. Burrow

    Ugh I had to explain to a prolifer that when I had money to get my tubes tied I couldn’t find someone to do it b/c I was “too young” and childless. Now 10 years later I can’t afford it and wonder if things have changed that much (still childless and I’m gonna stay that way dammit) I did tell her she could pay for it. Although I never would have had to abort if I would have gotten my tubes tied in teh first place and for that I blame the stupid patriarchy loving doctor.

  22. Amanda Sullivan

    a breath of fresh air. I have just learned of you twisty and this fabulous blog. mind if I, too, plagiarize? You all are my kind of people!!!!! Will be a daily visitor from NOW ON! Thanks! xoxoMandy

  23. westlin

    boo hiss. I would rather take care of kids already on the planet than add more of my own. IF I had a stable home life and IF I could afford to (ie, not now). But I am diabetic and one GP says so be really careful and not get pregnant unless I am in really good control of my blood sugar (I started insulin about three months ago), and the gyn says that the only birth control I can use is condoms (apparantly if your blood sugar is wonky pills and the like upset the whole thing). And I just don’t trust condoms. And they argue against any other forms because what 25 year old doesn’t want a little pink poop-machine?

  24. manxome

    Wordlackey’s comment reminds me of the day when I had to accompany my then 40 year-old husband to the doctor so I could sign a release saying it was okey dokey with me that he was electing to get a procedure done to his person. It’s not like he was in a coma and couldn’t make such life-altering decisions himself, of course.

    We thought the whole thing was nuts. Ballsy, even!

  25. Christine

    I got my tubes tied at the age of 27, through Planned Parenthood in California. They asked if I was sure, listened to my reasons, and said “okay.” The only person who went on to the “what if you get divorced then marry again and your new husband wants children?” (the fact that my husband doesn’t want kids either was important, apparently) was the (male) doctor right before the surgery.

    Never been more glad to have had the op done.

  26. alyssa

    “If men got pregnant, abortion would be considered hunting.”

    so funny, and so true!

    god knows (oh, he does) that if men were the ones carrying the kid around for 9 months, they’d be bragging about how big their stomach was (for one), and if they wanted an abortion, it’d be free, fast, and there’d be constant government funding to find new ways of stalking their prey faster and more efficiently.

    oh baby.

  27. Astacia


    I had a tubal after my second daughter was born, and my OB/GYN was wonderful about it. He never made me feel like I was doing anything wrong.

    But 2 years later, after I had my son, another doctor tried to talk me out of having them tied again. “You do understand that this will make you sterile and that you’ll never be able to get pregnant again, right?”

    Yeah, I’ve had this song and dance before, just give me the surgery.

  28. EventualFutureMother

    Thanks for this!

    My fiance and I are both planning on utilizing the “permanent solution” after we have two kids (eventually), so it’s nice to know what we can expect. He says if I’m carrying two kids, the least he can do is get the surgery too.

    My mom was supposed to be unable to have kids after my oldest younger brother because of scared tubes. The doctor refused to tie them because it was “such a small chance” and they might want another one. My father sure did, as my youngest brother attests to, and he wasn’t happy when she finally found a GYN who agreed to do the surgery the day my brother was born. The fact that they have no love life now shows me how much my father really loved my mom. So glad that addage about choosing a man who’s just like your father is not true!

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