Thursday, March 22, 2007

A picture's worth a thousand words...

...or "Abortions, Ultrasounds and Me"

So, here goes.

I'm a guy. For those of you who hadn't put a gender to the Maadas Hel nick, there you go. I'm a male in a male dominated society where women are trained into a role from birth to serve me. That's never set well with me, but I only recently realized that I am a feminist. There have always been things about women's depiction in the mainstream, our deprecating-by-nature language, etc. that bothered me.

Having said that, here's where it gets dicey for me. Abortion.

I'm not terribly comfortable with trying to convince anyone I have a valid opinion on abortion since I can't become pregnant. To me, it's like a person with no legs being appointed the head of R&D for the Dept. of Silly Walks.

Still, in my own estrogen-challenged way I've become quite solid in my pro-choice stance, based more than anything else on a woman's right to choose how to live in her own skin. (My opinions aren't influenced by the God stuff, so I get to deal in human issues when trying to make sense of it all.)

So this morning while punishing my poor, tired old body on a treadmill in a gym, I saw this bit of scariness about a South Carolina law that's sailing through their legislature that will force women having an abortion to view ultrasound pics of their unborn fetuses before giving the go ahead. Ultrasound pics, mind you, they didn't request, taken by someone who isn't them, of a fetus they are not connected to in any way.

"I'm just trying to save lives and protect people from regret and inform women with the most accurate non-judgmental information that can be provided," Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, said.

Greg's a guy too. Like me, he's just as incapable of ever knowing what it's like to physically carry a child in his womb. Like me he'll never even come close to grasping the emotional implications of giving birth or aborting it. Like me, he'll never walk in the shoes of the segment of our society who is expected by their peers to give up their lives for breeding purposes.

So, are we really going to pass actual laws that force people to look at pictures they don't take, request or want to view? Why the hell not, we've already got these:

The state's informed-consent law, passed in 1994, requires abortion doctors to tell women the likely age of their fetus and give them information about fetal development and alternatives to abortion. Women must think about the information for at least an hour before terminating their pregnancy.

Hey, I guess if we can pass laws forcing a human to "think about" something of the government's choosing for an enforced time period, then passing legislation that will force us to train our eyes where we're told to is no great stretch.

I'd love to hear from women on this topic, but this is disturbing on so many other levels than just the abortion aspect, in my decidedly testosterone influenced opinion.

A little help here?


litbrit said...

I guess if we can pass laws forcing a human to "think about" something of the government's choosing for an enforced time period, then passing legislation that will force us to train our eyes where we're told to is no great stretch.

This exactly.

What an insightful and logically sound post, Maadas. That it was written by a man--albeit one who is clearly more empathetic, thoughtful, and intellectually curious than most of the ones currently grasping the levers of power with their sticky little fingers--gives me hope. Really.

(As for your being "estrogen challenged", you're not missing out on a whole lot--to my mind, that particular hormone is not, as they say, all it's cracked up to be. Not most of the time, anyway!)

Shakespeare's Sister said...

Greg's a guy too. Like me, he's just as incapable of ever knowing what it's like to physically carry a child in his womb.

And just as incapable of ever knowing what it's like to totally not want to be carrying a child, even though you're equipped to do so.

This is really the crux of it. And, truthfully, even women who have always wanted to be mothers, especially those who became mothers precisely when they were ready, and with the right person, may have trouble completely relating to that feeling.

I do not want to be pregnant. Not now, and probably never. Just the thought of it makes me slightly nauseous. I'm really unprepared to be and uninterested in being a mother, although I adore kids (including my beloved nephew), but I'm actually hostile to the idea of being pregnant. It icks me out big time.

I'm also a married woman who's sexually active. My husband doesn't want kids, either. I've never had an abortion, never had to make that decision, so I can't say with certainty I'd get one if I became pregnant, but that's the likely scenario if I did.

So many discussions of abortion (and abortion legislation, as here) regard pregnancy as something every woman wants and to which every woman will have a special connection. Legislation like this clearly presumes that women seeking abortions have had to deny the reality of being pregnant. If only she sees it's a baby...if only she hears the fetal heartbeat...if only she just thinks about what she's doing...

To the women who seek abortions, the reality of being pregnant is precisely what's driving the abortion. And it's not always just bad timing, or finances, or whatever else. Some women just. don't. want. to. be. mothers. Ever.

Even some women to whom I've spoken who eventually became blissfully happy mothers felt as though they were getting rid of a tumor or parasite when they had an abortion earlier in their lives. That's something I think men often don't stop to consider--just how horrifying it is to have something growing inside your body that you don't want to be there. And it's because we live in a society where all women are meant to want to be mothers, where the idea that a woman could equate an unwanted fetus to a tumor is considered ghastly, instead of perfectly understandable.

There's this idea that when women who don't want to become pregnant do, some mothering instinct magically kicks in. And maybe sometimes that happens. And sometimes women are just cajoled by partners, or parents, or peer pressure, or self-expectation to pretend it's there. And sometimes women just feel icked out and want that clump of cells gone. That should be okay. If we're all in agreement that wanting to be a mother is a fairly significant prerequisite for being a good mother, then that should be okay.

As to the efficacy of this legislation... From my perspective, it would be approximately as effective as showing you an ultrasound of a benign prostate tumor and expecting that to make you want to keep it. "Yeah, doc--now that I've seen the little bugger, I feel a real connection to him! Leave it in!" Except, of course, no one would ever try to guilt a man into not removing something from his body that he didn't want there.

maurinsky said...

What this law really is saying is simply that they don't trust that women who seek an abortion have thought about it yet. Which is ridiculous. When you are pregnant and you don't want to pregnant, I promise you, there is very little that you do think about *other* than "what should I do, what am I going to do?"

So they'll play the emotional card. These are all social cues, cues that we are born and bred to pick up on, even subconsciously, that a woman is just plain wrong to not want what is growing inside her.

opit said...

I suppose the safety of the ultrasound upon the fetus is beyond dispute . No ? Silly, huh ?

Maadas Hel said...

Thanks all. This issue really gets me all twisted up. I appreciate the comments.

I agree that the nurturing assumption is one of the greatest falsehoods still perpetuated throughout our society and one of the foundations of women's struggles to elevate themselves to gender equality.

"Why do you want to be equal there, little lady, you have to bear the younguns."

Actually, you don't.

My wife and I have decided we don't want to have children. We are doing, imo, a fantastic job of raising our 11-year old daughter, whose mother split on her at a year and a half. We thought when we got together having a child between us would be something we would eventually want to do. We now are firm in the belief that we don't want to bring another child into this fucked up world/society, use more resources that are already depleting at a ridiculous rate and (some would say selfishly) don't want to put our lives together on hold to responsibly care for another life form for 18-2o more years.

I believe that if Ms. Hel got pregnant, she would have an abortion even though we are a happy couple and both good parents.

That statement alone would make most Xtian's eyes pop out of their heads. :)

R2K said...

: )

Vox Populi said...

They tried to push this through in Florida, as well. Freaks.
Proud of you for being a sista deep-down.

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