Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog for Choice 2013: Tota Mulier In Utero

Quin Rich, Guest Blogger (2016, Hampshire College)
This post is part of the Blog for Choice 2013 launched by the Boston Students for Sexual and Reproductive Justice (BSSRJ).

Tota mulier in utero…woman is a womb.”  Such is how Simone de Beauvoir described one prevailing view of women in her introduction to The Second Sex Surely, more than 60 years removed from de Beauvoir’s treatise and 40 years past Roe v. Wade, this view must be thoroughly repudiated.  But to listen to the way some pundits and politicians speak about women is to be confronted with the exact same argument.  Talk of “legitimate rape” and strategically positioned aspirin as contraceptive measures, as well as a flat-out denial that pregnancy prevention is a fundamental part of health care, seems to refute the existence of the last half-century of reproductive justice efforts.  Indeed, forces at the state level, all across the country, are coalescing with the specific intention of eviscerating such efforts crowning achievement, the Roe decision.  Were Roe merely a matter of rendering explicit the guarantee to safe and legal abortion in the United States, then such attacks would seem academic; but Roe is one of the few positive affirmations of that right, a line in the sand between the worst excesses of the back alley and the relative safety and autonomy Roeprovides.   For many, however, it is a right in principle only, and one which is rapidly disappearing at that; the Hyde amendment prevents access to abortion care to poor women and women of color by denying them federal Medicaid funds to help pay for their procedures; states are banning private insurance coverage for abortion; and mandatory waiting periods necessitate multiple trips to the clinic over several days, putting abortion care out of the reach of many women who cannot afford to take so much time off work or away from their other children.  When women are forced to take matters into their own hands, the logical outcome of such bodily totalitarianism by misogynistic ideologues, they are pursued with threats of jail time and criminal prosecution; this applies to women who happen to miscarry in the wrong state, as well.  The anti-choice rhetoric of women as unwilling victims of amoral, greedy doctors is a fa├žade.  The true purpose of legislative restrictions on abortion access is to punish women for deigning to control their own lives.  Crisis pregnancy centers are the logical extension of this kind of thinking; if harassing women outside of Planned Parenthood won’t work, they’ll set up a competing “clinic” next door.  Of course this clinic won’t be staffed by doctors, and will not bother to concern itself with the health and well-being of its patients; its only prerogative is to guilt, shame, coerce, cajole, and blatantly lie to stop abortion by any means necessary.  Granted, once these children are born, the anti-choice contingent loses all interest in them.  “Forget subsidized childcare, you should have thought of that before you got pregnant!” they cry.  And neither do they have any sympathy for rape and incest survivors, women in abusive relations, or women facing life-threatening pregnancies.  For to them, it is not as if these women really matter; after all, “tota mulier in utero”. 

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