Fetal protectionism is what they're calling it, eh? Here's a hint: if it doesn't really protect fetuses by helping women be healthy, emphasizes punishing women, and has nothing to do with the consequences of male behavior too, it's more likely to deserve a name like "not treating women as adult human beings who are individuals, moral agents, and equal citizens." You could also add :) to that too if you want.
Abortion-rights groups see the wave of fetal protectionism as a setup to make a fetus a person, entitled to constitutional rights, contrary to how the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Roe v. Wade.
But anti-abortion forces -- plus some groups with no stake in the fetal-rights debate -- say it's a no-brainer that society do whatever it can to keep developing babies safe and healthy.
And the vessels in which they reside? Those mindless automatons? Those infantile naifs who think they have the power to make decisions about things like an occasional drink during pregnancy in consultation with their doctor instead of their local politicians?
Critics of fetal-rights legislation see a slippery slope in the making. In some states, prosecutors have turned such laws against women when their behavior -- typically methamphetamine or crack use -- may have contributed to a stillbirth or to costly birth defects.
Taken further, could authorities charge a pregnant woman who miscarries after she rejects a doctor's advice to take prenatal vitamins? How about banning pregnant women from playing sports? And why not punish alcoholic men? Their addiction could affect sperm and produce birth defects, studies show.
"What we're seeing is a political trend in which the fetuses are coming first, and the rights of women ... are coming last," said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
"I think 30 years of anti-abortion rhetoric -- 'women killing their babies' -- has led to a moral vilification that doesn't just stick to those who seek to terminate a pregnancy. It's spreading to all pregnant women."
So modest! The moral vilification has spread a lot farther than that. Anyone who is not doing her godly duty while dressed like this is in the crosshairs for some of the those doing the vilifying.
It would be a lot more believeable if those who say they want to protect babies actually did things that created the circumstances for wanted babies and their mothers to be healthy, like support widely available contraception, and create prevention rather than enforcement programs.
Stuff like this is just advanced slut shaming, not to mention anti-democratic and anti-libertarian in the way it uses the authoritarian power of the state to restrict the liberty of women.
Hat tip Feministing.Posted by binky at July 12, 2006 03:56 PM | TrackBack | Posted to Gender and Politics | Liberty | Reproductive Autonomy