Aug 19 2007

UterusWatch 2007

Fans of compulsory pregnancy should be pleased that a new law in Missouri, taking effect next week, will put the government all up in women’s business and further solidify the state’s claim to ownership of American uteruses. The law twists the coathanger in several gruesome and trendy directions. For instance, suddenly abortion clinics will have to become ‘ambulatory surgical centers’, which are subject to unnecessary government regulation and are vastly more expensive to maintain. A clinic in Columbia, MO, home of the University of Missouri, will have to shut down unless Planned Parenthood can cough up the $2 million for renovations. Leaving thousands of women in the lurch.

Not only that, but representatives of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers will be barred from anything to do with sex education (teaching, educational pamphlets illustrated with cross-sections of gonads, et al) in public schools. Instead, abstinence programs — where the gym teacher says “grow an iron hymen or Jesus will kill your parents” — will receive funding. This should be a real godsend for compulsory pregnancy advocates whose niche-fetish is loving teen pregnancy.

Last but not least — my personal favorite — the law will rubberstamp a program that gives grants to compulsory pregnancy centers where embryos are promoted as sacred fairies encrusted with their mothers’ entire sense of self-worth.

Planned Parenthood is suing for an injunction.

It may be too late for Missouri, but have you heard what’s about to go down in Ohio? Check out this troglodyte state house bill, HB 287. No time to read tiresome legislation? Here’s the money shot: Anyone seeking an abortion first has to secure the “written informed consent” of the father. Don’t know who the father is? You have to buy paternity tests for the usual suspects. Were you raped? Relive the experience by providing proof of this to your abortion provider. Think you’ll get your best gay dude friend to fake consent for you? It’s “abortion fraud,” a first degree misdemeanor. If you commit a second abortion fraud, it’s a felony.

This bill is actually being framed in terms of the terrible unfairness to men presented by the idea of woman’s personal bodily sovereignty.

So in Ohio, the state is generous with its awesome power. It has faith in its male citizens. And to demonstrate that faith, it’s willing to cede ownership of your uterus to your asshole ex-boyfriend.

* * * * * *

Oh, and an FYI: the next time you’re in a hot debate with an embryo-worshiper, and she trots out that tired old crap about how abortions — particularly medical (RU486) abortions — cause complications in later pregnancies, tell her that the New England Journal of Medicine just published findings that abortions of any sort have no impact on subsequent reproductive efforts.


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  1. Natalia

    Were you raped? Relive the experience by providing proof of this to your abortion provider.

    Oh, wonderful. What’s proof, a conviction? I’m guessing rape victims will be getting abortions at about the rate they’re seeing the perpetrators brought to justice.

  2. CafeSiren

    This law is f’ed up from beginning to end, and all the way through the middle. But here’s a bit from the article that really caught my attention:

    “In addition, women would be required to present a police report in order to prove a pregnancy is the result of rape or incest.”

    Right — because when an underaged girl is raped by a member of her household, or a grown woman is raped by a friend, boyfriend, or coworker, they’re gonna go straight to the police. Because not a one of them will have internalized the culture of patriarchy to the point where standing up for themselves in the face of male violence is difficult or impossible to contemplate, nor will they fear ridicule or retribution from male family members, coworkers, friends, and authorities (including the mostly-male police).

    And how, might I ask, does a police report conclusively prove paternity anyway?

    I’ll say it again: undue burden.

  3. sun rat

    First, thank you for the link to the findings. That can be incredibly useful information to keep on hand.

    Second, I am completely gobsmacked, although I know I shouldn’t be, over the losses in autonomy women are suffering these days. But I feel helpless to do anything but talk about it.

    I’ve read (in bell hook’s book “Feminism is for Everybody”) that feminists used to have home-based meetings for teaching the basics about feminism. I would SO do that but I am unenlightened on just HOW to start something like that up. I think I (we) need to go back to our herstory and glean the things that helped the most and try to repeat those things for this day and age, before even more ground is lost. I’m doing what I can to educate myself and my daughters, and my reading list is larger than the time I have, but i’m working on it.

    I do know one thing: we women NEED each other.

  4. Cass

    “I’m guessing rape victims will be getting abortions at about the rate they’re seeing perpetrators brought to justice.”

    And according to the Justice Dept., that latter rate is about six percent.

  5. Foxish

    Y’know, every time someone starts touting the benefits of abstinence only sex ed, my mind goes back to my senior year of high school (in Missouri, no less) seeing freshman girls not only pregnant, but due at the beginning of the school year. Yep, that abstinence only stuff is really working! It works so well the school board was considering adding a day care center to the high school campus!

    Oh, and did you know that condoms don’t work to prevent STDs? I didn’t until a mandatory assembly my junior year. We were told it was to be a talk by a 9/11 firefighter about his experiences, and it quickly descended into “Don’t have sex or Jesus will get you!” and “Condoms have holes in them! They don’t do anything to protect you!” as well as other fun facts.

  6. Craroline

    Oh my lord. Brilliant idea, Ohio.

    “Proof” of rape? Do any of these senators have any idea how traumatic it is to do a rape kit at the hospital, provided the survivor even gets up the courage, (or has any means to get there in time at all, and isn’t afraid of any retaliation from family members, “friends,” gang members, etc; and sarcastic remarks from police officers) to do it? Are they just begging for a rise in suicide rates and serious mental and physical health problems? And child neglect, and substance abuse problems. Lord.

    Maybe hurricane Dean will suddenly detour and take out Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri, and Ohio…

  7. ironmaiden

    I do know one thing: we women NEED each other.

    This is the hardest part for me. I feel very isolated from other women, and I see other women maintaining distance from one another, and I have no idea how to change it.

  8. Genevieve

    I covered the Ohio story in my blog a few weeks ago:
    But I didn’t even think of things like the fact that women have to BUY the paternity tests for the potential fathers. When people discussed this on Feministing, some of them said that they would make their guy friends say that they were the fathers–no one knew about the ‘abortion fraud’ issue.
    This SERIOUSLY makes me want to move to some other state when I graduate. I hope this gets shot down in the House, but if it doesn’t I hope there’s some way to get it on the ballot so that normal Ohio citizens have a say–because I personally know quite a few who would vote against it.

  9. CuriouserAndCuriouser

    This is the hardest part for me. I feel very isolated from other women, and I see other women maintaining distance from one another, and I have no idea how to change it.

    This is one of the sneakiest and most underhanded parts of the patriarchy – women are taught to put our first loyalties toward the men in our lives, especially if we’re married, and to put all our emotional energy toward maintaining said relationship. If there are kids as well, and the woman is doing the bulk of that work too, what time or energy does she have left for any outside friendships, let alone close relationships with women?

    The old ‘divide and conquer’ strategy is alive and well.

    In my observation most Nigels put little to no energy into maintaining their marriages, relying entirely on the woman to do the work. If the woman slacks off, she knows she’s got to contend with the ever-circling vultures (single women), as well as the other married women in her circle of friends (polyamory, anyone?). How many women with Nigels in their lives have time or energy left to nurture friendships with other women?

  10. KMTberry

    This is unacceptable. CLEARLY, those of us with non-functional and/or absent uteri need to give MAJOR BUX to Planned Parenthood!!

    ANd those with functional uteri need to have a SPECIAL SAVINGS ACCOUNT so that they can get to (fill in name of relatively-enlightened state such as Mass. or California) for an abortion when they need one.

    WHat is this country coming to, I declare. I know I am repeating myself, but I NEVER EVER thought that the United States as it was when I was in HIGH SCHOOL (1978) was at it’s APEX of civilized-ness. But, apparently, that WAS the Zenith, folks, cause it’s all been down hill from there!

  11. Sandblaster

    So what happens if the asshole boyfriend refuses to give “consent” (I HATED typing that word)?

    Sound like the draft to me- the government taking over people to make us do things we have no desire to do. Except being drafted doesn’t last 18 years, and you get paid instead of paying.

  12. medrecgal

    Glad to see “W” and his misogynist, holier-than-thou cronies are still cranking out the B.S. laws designed to protect their precious little patriarchy. Makes me want to puke. There’s one obvious reason their pet project “abstinence programs” don’t work, and it isn’t entirely the fault of girls who lack that iron hymen–it’s because American culture in all its craziness pushed back the age at which it is convenient–and legal–to have consensual sex. Human physiology was designed such that reproduction would be occurring at the peak of development, which corresponds to the mid-to-late teen years. Pushing this back into the twenties or even much later in the name of education didn’t stop the sexual urges that normally occur, and all the acculturation and education in the world isn’t going to stop teenagers from having sex. My theory has always been, if you know they’re going to have sex, at least give them access to proper contraception instead of hoping they won’t do it and winding up with insane rates of “unwanted pregnancy”.

    And as for “consent”…the whole idea of a woman needing the potential father’s consent to have an abortion is a gigantic step back in the WRONG direction. Contrary to the extremely “pro-life” (and to that I always said, “pro WHOSE life?”) stance, the developing embryo or fetus is actually completely dependent on its mother’s body, and as such is really an extension of it. (Some suggest a parasitic relationship.) Until men find a way to undo that basic fact of biology, they should STAY OUT of demanding decision making power over our collective uteri! Guess it’s all about continuing to drain the the power of women to be autonomous humans like men are. IBTP for this crazy, asinine, we’ll force you to be submissive line of the same old B.S.

  13. Marytracy9

    In relation to the post: I think women should stop having sex with men altogether and instead have sex with other women. This would make men change their minds towards abortion! This “half-joke” came to mind after reading this part of “Right-Wing Women”,by Andrea Dworkin. Sample line: “It was the brake that pregnancy put on fucking that made abortion a high-priority political issue for men in the 1960s.”

    sunrat: I wish I had the chance of attending one of those meetings.
    ironmaiden: I feel exactly the same way! Only that I feel isolated from everybody. Perhaps because I am a feminist, and I’ve never seen a feminist in real life.

  14. inspiredbycoffee

    Hang on, it IS parody isn’t it?

    “A Very Special Iron Hymen Dispatch from First Lady Mrs. George W. Bush: »TEN THINGS EVERY GIRL SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BOYS AND THEIR VILE PRIVATE PARTS”

    Yes? No?

    Please say it is. That’d be a HUGE relief.

  15. inspiredbycoffee

    Oh dear. I’m more than a little embarrassed now. Apologies for taking up perfectly good comment section space with my ravings!

  16. Jodie

    They really, really do hate us.

  17. TheoJF

    I have no objections to a law requiring fatherly consent for abortions, under two conditions:

    (1) The father has to show written proof that the mother gave consent to the sex act.
    (2) Any father who refuses to consent to the abortion is himself required to carry the child to term.

    I do think that the current medical technology makes (2) rather difficult, but that’s a problem he’s going to have to deal with himself. I mean, maybe once he undergoes the court-ordered fetus-implantation, he could decide to get an abortion, but only with the mother’s consent?

  18. Lara

    What man carries a baby to term Theo? Try really really hard to remember biology class now….
    And sun rat and ironmaiden, let me tell you, I feel exactly the same as you. I not only feel isolated from other women (a majority of my friends are guys…eeeekkk!!!) but there are so so few feminists that I actually know in personal life it’s depressing. How do you think we should go about getting grassroots again? About actually getting together in real time or physical life and putting our heads together and really trying to do something about it? I would LOVE to get together with other women…While Marx argued that capitalism isolated the worker from her or his finished work the patriarchy isolates women from each other and from themselves.

  19. Miller

    I do not believe for a second these pro-pregnancy activists (they are certainly not pro-“life”) or the rest of society believe abortion is murder. If they did, then abortion providers would be celebrated with the same revelry as serial killers. What’s the difference? The latter universally target women and girls for sadistic slaughter while the former confirms our most basic human right: personal sovereignty.

    Honestly, I am tired of the public lionizing the likes of the Green River killer who choose the easiest of prey to assault, torture, and kill–female prostitutes. Always these males are presented as tortured geniuses who not only are fascinating in terms of their “skill” (because brutalizing a disenfranchised person–whom you already have a physical advantage over–with a weapon is *so* difficult) but also sympathetic souls who suffered early humiliation–the horror!–at the hands of the real villain: some vile woman or girl.

  20. coyote

    I was part of an informal consciousness-raising group in the late 80s, and when I told my husband I wanted a divorce, he completely and totally blamed the group for it. Of course he did, because the group was the one thing he couldn’t isolate me from.

  21. Rachael

    [quote]“I’m guessing rape victims will be getting abortions at about the rate they’re seeing perpetrators brought to justice.”

    And according to the Justice Dept., that latter rate is about six percent.[/quote]

    That makes sense, except at what rate do you seriously think rape victims are getting pregnant? Do you SERIOUSLY think everyone who gets raped gets pregnant? I remember being a very actively sexual person in my twenties (married, monogamous) and trying very hard for a baby, but taking two years to get pregnant. You think every rape results in a pregnancy? Bull.

  22. Rachael

    Not that that has any effect on this; a woman’s body is hers. Period. I’m just saying stop buying into their arguments. Conception from rape happens but it’s not the issue.

  23. gentaggard

    Craroline: May I very gently and respectfully ask you not to wish a hurricane on anyone? One mind-boggling thing that came out of Katrina-and-aftermath was bible thumpers saying New Orleans got what she deserved, even thanking “God” for the destruction. I don’t wish it on anyone (I’m sure you don’t really either – frustration boils over sometimes, and if it didn’t, hey, our heads would have to explode!).

    My sister is a little less informed about social and political issues than my mom and I are, probably because raising four children is time consuming. What I love is how you can tell her about something and then she will really go digging for the facts before making up her own mind. Most people don’t even bother to go dig for more facts. Anyway, I DO inform her quite a bit, but she is not one to be led by me or anyone else. Her husband insists that my family puts a lot of false political ideas into her head (not true: we pass on ideas and then she decides; his assertion dismisses her intelligence). They had a huge fight the day Bush was sworn in, which started with my sister being in tears and saying, “Well, there goes abortion rights.” After he asked why she cared, since she had a hysterectomy a few years ago (if it can’t hurt you, why worry about your global sisters, eh?), and was reminded that he still has two daughters who will be affected, he insisted that we were all alarmists and that “the Supreme Court will never overrule Roe v. Wade.”

    Of course, as anyone reading this knows, the compulsory pregnancy people don’t have to get it overturned. That is no longer even their strategy! They will, instead, terrorize doctors and staff (done), protest hospitals (especially in places with only one hospital), convince medical schools not to require training in abortion procedure as part of the ob/gyn certification process (done), drive clinics out of business (with increased insurance premiums resulting from their clinic bombings and with new “surgery center” designations as Twisty explains above), and implement waiting periods (so a woman has no provider where she lives, comes in from someplace else, and must be able to afford a hotel because the law assumes she needs another 24 hours to think about it before she knows her own mind on the matter – only dude nation could NOT know that a woman who finds herself pregnant and stuck and afraid and freaked out and desperate has already thought about the abortion thing 24/7 and doesn’t need another day as prescribed by them, thank you).

    No, they won’t make abortion illegal. They will just make it unavailable.

    For now, one way you can help is to volunteer with a network that gives women who must travel for abortions a place to stay overnight and then transporation to and from the clinic. I’ve never been able to offer a bed, but I used to do return phone calls for the network, which was a complicated game of phone tag and secret signals, due, unfortunatly, to the fear of anti-choice terrorists. I just tried to find them again with a google search and couldn’t (it was always a quiet kind of thing), but if any regular posters here are really, seriously interested, message me at the forum and I will be glad to spend some more time digging.

  24. Crystal

    For some reason the idea of having to get a man’s permission for your abortion is even more disturbing to me than a blanket anti-abortion policy. I mean, that means that they’re no longer even claiming that it’s the right of the fetus to life that they care about, but the right of men to control women’s reproductive choices. Of course, I guess in practicality I’d rather be able to get an abortion if needed with “proof” of “consent” than not have the option at all.

  25. Frigga's Own

    “ANd those with functional uteri need to have a SPECIAL SAVINGS ACCOUNT”

    Well, after we pay rent and utilities and buy groceries, we’re running at about -$40 for the month, so I’ll be sure to get right on it. Honestly, I can’t remember I time I wasn’t living hand to mouth, my only abortion had to be funded by someone pawning a car title. We don’t have anything we could sell now.

    I’d like to think of Ohio as having pockets of progressives that would never let such a bill get very far, but we’re out here in the ‘burbs with all the upscale little shopping centers. I’ve actually seen Nigels storm into stores demanding that an item be returned because the wife didn’t get his permission to buy it. I think a lot of the women out here got used to being owned a long time ago, that is, those women who could ever afford such an expensive procedure. The rest of us untouchables worry ourselves into knots over not being able to afford groceries, let alone any medical control over our bodies.

    I’m still puzzling out how paternity could be established that early in a pregnancy. Can you really take samples of fetal DNA or blood that soon? Most abortions happen within 8-12 weeks of conception if I’m not mistaken, I thought the fetus would be too small.

  26. ginmar

    It’s stuff like this that makes me think I don’t hate men nearly enough.

  27. Debby

    Thanks for this lovely “welcome to your new home” post. I just moved to Missouri.

  28. Twisty

    I lived in Missouri for 25 years, Debby, and I made it out alive. There’s hope.

  29. teffie-phd

    I don’t want to come across as a xenophobe, but what the fuck is going on in America? I find it hard to believe we share a border with you or even a planet really.

    Not that Canada is the bastion of women’s liberation, but shit like this just doesn’t happen here.

    If I were I woman I would say my pregnancy was an immaculate conception and god told me to have an abortion.

  30. Miller

    The fact that there is a severe lack of serious discussion (even amongst “liberals”) about the tsunami-like wave of destruction aimed at abortion rights (and our basic human rights in general) makes me believe that it is far easier to question God Himself than to question patriarchy. Chris Hitchens (proud hater of women and girls) and his swipe at religion is celebrated amongst the left and there is serious discussion about even atheism today. However, if you are to question the trivialization and glorification of rape, for example, all hell lets loose (again, even amongst “liberals”). I can’t help but feel that my friend was right: God was created by men to justify and sanctify tyranny against women and girls.

  31. Mamasquab

    Crystal is absolutely right. With the Ohio bill, there’s not even a pretense that this is about killing innocent babies. It’s about who’se in charge of women’s bodies. I’d bang my head on my desk, but I’d rather bang the heads of the horribles who wrote these pieces of legislation.

  32. CMH

    My friend from Ohio was telling me about this new law and she says it won’t pass. Still, seriously fucked up that they’re even trying to get it through. Also, another friend pointed out that this was expressly struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992 so even if it did pass it would be overturned.

    On another IBTP note, I just had a conversation with the workman who’s redoing my mom’s bathroom. He was supposed to be eating lunch but instead spent an hour trying to convert me to pentecostalism, telling me that Harry Potter promotes witchcraft, that theater isn’t “genuine” because it makes people be false, as is dyeing one’s hair (I’m writing a play and have dyed hair), and that if any guy wants to sleep with me I should take him home to my parents and that my parents should decide who I marry. And that sex is sacred and should be used only for reproduction, and that Jesus is the savior.

    I’m 22, by the way. And bisexual. Oh, I also have purple hair, fuck whoever the hell I want whenever I want, love theater and will continue being involved with it, and I’ve read every single Harry Potter book. TWICE.

    Why didn’t I just speak up and kick him out? I’m alone in the house with him. I didn’t want to make my mom mad by getting rid of one of her worker before the work’s done. And ultimately, he can promote Jesus and the patriarchy as much as he wants. Free speech, right? At the end of the week I’ll be going back to my Ivy League school, and he’ll be fixing someone else’s toilet.

    Sorry for the rant, Twisty.

  33. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Passing through Missouri can be uncomfortable. They’re such Philistines they don’t even have fried chicken on the menu at Hardee’s. And when you pick up your rental car at the Springfield airport, the locals will give you the royal stink-eye if they hear you refer to it as “The Blow-Me State”. (Don’t ask me how I know this.)

    This from me, who currently resides in Ohio. I’m ashamed of our legislators.

  34. UTexasLaw

    There are many ways to help make abortion more accessible. If you live in Texas you can donate to the Lilith Fund (www.lilithfund.org) or the Texas Equal Access Fund (http://www.teafund.org/) If you don’t live in Texas you can go to http://www.nnaf.org and search for a fund in your area.

  35. julia


    i agree with you, but we must remember not everyone lives in toronto, vancouver or montreal. i don’t think it can be argued that being geographically isolated, the chronic underfunding of our (albeit) public system, loopholes allowing pharmacists to refuse to sell the morning after pill, and disparities among provinces doesn’t negative impact women’s reproductive rights and choices in canada.

    having said that, i feel so darn lucky to live in canada and not the states, that i think i must do a little happy dance this very moment [tipity tap, jazzy finish]. ya.

  36. TravelerOfTheWays

    All I have to add is a huge sigh of sorrow. I got my undergrad degree in CoMo, and that very Planned Parenthood was my very first PP visit ever. Sniff. And a really cool woman from the Triangle Coalition at the university worked there and made me feel completely comfortable.

  37. Crystal

    This is off topic, but in response to CMH, though I don’t generally dig Ivy League elitism, I can’t help but laugh at your story because I had some entertaining experiences with my grandma’s underpaid Mexican Pentacostal gardeners. My favorite was when they “accidentally broke” these two garden statues that my grandma had of frisking frogs with giant penises. I can’t say that I thought it was much of a loss though.
    Feel free to delete this if it’s too off-topic.

  38. Carrie

    On Ohio-
    So a bitter ex boyfriend (or husband) can decide not give consent for his ex to have an abortion and leave her stuck with a baby? ‘Cause I’m sure the state is going to make damn sure he’ll not only pay child support, but take care of his own kid. Is that what they think will make it all better? Child support money? What if the mom wants to go back to (or finish) school, or works long hours? Do they think decent day care and baby sitters are running abundant?
    If a man is that desparate to have a child, get a someone to be a surrogate mom before you knock her up.

  39. saltyC

    CMH, you totally make my skin crawl, seriously.

  40. Arwen

    “For some reason the idea of having to get a man’s permission for your abortion is even more disturbing to me than a blanket anti-abortion policy.”

    Okay, I’m way shaky on American jurisprudence – being Canadian and us no longer having any abortion laws – but wasn’t there a case exactly about paternal consent that SCOTUS already overturned? (Or, actually, she’d had the abortion by the time they’d decided or something…)


    What we need is to figure out how to mass produce RU486 and pass it out in Ohio.

  41. island mamma

    its absolutly disgustingly sick to think that a woman should need permission from a man about anything! especially abortion! Bah! The very same “boys” that we women allow to pass through our gates into this world to begin with! We should strike…
    just a huge international womans walk out!
    I mean really enough already.
    we the women of the world must no longer consent to this testeorone ruled palnet of war, rape and degradation! They wont stop it! Men will continue the control unless we take drastic measures!
    a small start would be to set a time and date and women just leave whatever it is that they are doing at the moment and march in the streets together!!!!Power in numbers!!!Show them what were made of and how much we actually run in this world already! BE BRAVE ALMIGHTY WOMAN….
    seriously i day dream about this action often.

    *note to marytracy9 and ironmaiden:
    Sisters You have seen a feminist in real life….she is the woman you saw last and the one you will see next….All women are feminist whether they agree publicly or not!
    also to be reached one must be reachable…to close the distance become closer to those you feel you need to connect with. to stop isolation take action and become open…after all womanhood and feminism are about being and becoming….

  42. Honey Badger

    As a visitor for several years, I want to thank you for hosting a blog promoting the still radical notion that women are somehow human beings.

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