This morning some friends and I were having a candid conversation about an article about the new Arizona law which says that a woman’s pregnancy is now to be calculated from the first day of her period. I had not read this particular article before having the conversation, but I had read another article about the same issue earlier. Here is an excerpt from said article: “In Arizona, women are now legally pregnant two weeks before conception, according to a new law, the Orwellianly-named, ‘Women’s Health and Safety Act,’ signed yesterday by Republican Governor Jan Brewer.” No, it is not an article from the Onion. Tragically, this is real.
I thought I should post some snippets of our conversation, as an example of what a cross-section of American women (and men) actually feel about how women’s bodies are being dictated. As average people who work and have lives (and we are educated, but are not politicians, doctors, historians, or economists), we speak as average people who have read the average amount of information on any subject. The fact is that an egg is not fertilized until sperm and egg meet, and therefore a woman is not pregnant until this has happened. There are a lot of cuss words in this post, folks, because we are average, angry people. Names have been excluded for anonymity. Except for me, of course, because you could probably figure that out anyway (pardon my soapboxing).
First, the article: http://thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/pregnancy-begins-2-weeks-before-conception-now-the-law-in-arizona/politics/2012/04/13/37993
Now the conversation:
1 (male): WTF!!!!!!!!!!
2 (male): I know dude…. I’m not sure of the authenticity of this site? But, it’s just another weird ass story from Arizona!
1 (male): I’m not sure I believe it either. They don’t have to say that bullshit to constrain the abortion timeframe parameters…. What I mean to say is, that’s not even a law. That headline doesn’t even make sense. Presenting a scientific falsity as “law” is absurd to the max.
2 (male): Agreed, man.
3 (male): It’s f’real.
4 (female): I have read another article about it from a more reputable source. It seems legit. However, it seems almost impossible to determine a specific date considering Aunt Flow never arrives when expected.
5 (me): It’s a real article. I read another one last week. When predicting a due date, the estimated date of conception is your first day of ovulation. I think this bill is designed to shorten the window in which a woman can legally get an abortion. If you’re getting the pill, which makes the abortion come on like a normal, if exceptionally painful, period, you can only get it for 56 days into gestation, or you have to get a dilation and [curettage], i.e., the one where they scrape your uterus with a razor-spoon and suck everything out with a vacuum cleaner. Since most women don’t figure out they’re pregnant until after they miss a period, this pretty much says that if you want an abortion, you have to get the razor-spoon and uterus-vacuuming. It’s pretty sadistic in terms of psychological damage on the mother, who, shockingly, may not be using abortion as her primary method of birth control. In another state they’ve filed some paperwork saying that if a fetus dies in utero, the mother has to carry the dead baby to term until she goes into labor naturally. And there’s a big battle going on right now over whether or not employers should have to provide insurance that covers the plain old birth control pill, which prevents women who can’t afford to have children, from having them-if the employer doesn’t believe in contraception. Which means that if your girlfriend, wife, daughter, or sister works for a devout religious person who believes that sex should be used for procreation only, she will have to pay out of pocket for birth control pills, and if she can’t do that, then oh well.
5 (me): Also, this law is pretty stupid, since two weeks before you conceive (which is only possible during ovulation, which occurs two weeks after the first day of your period), you will have been on your period. And therefore not pregnant.
4 (female): it’s all bullshit! I cannot believe women are voting for this. I bet you some of these women that voted for this bill probably had abortions…
5 (me): There may not have been any women on the panel.
4 (female): Oooo girl!…you know there was…stupid drones! This shit makes my blood boil.
5 (me): But yeah, there are some really stupid people out there…I don’t ever want to hear someone say “if you can’t feed em don’t breed em” again. As if poor people are just supposed to practice abstinence. If you’re poor, you can’t fuck. Yeah, right! When you’re poor, that’s one of the few fun things there is to do that doesn’t cost anything. Good luck with that shit. Or maybe…they’re planning on breeding poor people to make into…Soylent Green!!
5 (me): Don’t be mad at the women…you know this shit was thought up by someone who isn’t familiar with the menstrual cycle. [edit: after reading the article and learning that it was actually signed INTO LAW by two women, Jan Brewer (big surprise there, and not because she's a Republican...me and Jan already butt heads about a couple of things) and Arizona State Rep. Kimberly Yee, then yes. Be mad at the stupid, stupid women who don't give a SHIT about anything but their own bank accounts.]
6 (female): this is completely ridiculous.
4 (female): I know, I know, it just boggles my mind. People are just coming out of the wood works with some random stupid acts against humanity. What’s next? We will all be forced to eat the same food and wear the same clothes? Removing our rights of expression completely?
1 (male): It’s been happening. And I wish that shit was “random” but it’s the opposite of random. It’s chosen, and planned, and carefully thought out, but using some or another fundamentally fucked line of reasoning, which sabotages everything flowing from it. It’s all over and has recourse to the same shit (i.e. delusion) and threatens to make us extinct in the next few hundred years, or less.
5 (me): It will only make us extinct if we sit here and say, “that’s just how things are.” Things got this way because people are too content to just accept things as they are. Meanwhile, the people who would rather make things happen are making things happen. Only what they’re making happen is that they are getting very rich by preying on the complacency of people who are either too lazy to think or speak for themselves, or they are so non-confrontational that they would rather go with the flow to avoid causing a scene (or the few who want to “channel positive energy” and hum in a sunlit loft somewhere…meanwhile, the world is burning down outside because no one is there to stop it, because [everyone is] in their lofts, humming…not that that’s bad, but some things require your physical presence rather than your astral being).
4 (female): I know it’s been happening…I just choose to ignore it because it will literally send me to a nut house.
5 (me): I feel the same way sometimes… I have to tune out occasionally and pretend I’m on a different planet…but it’s like when you get back to work after a couple of days off and nothing is where you left it, and the people who were working while you were gone fucked all your shit up, and you have to fix their bullshit before you can get anything else done. For instance, women in Arizona are finding out that they’re pregnant right now, despite being celibate and on their periods :P So now they’re going to have to fight that on top of everything else they might have wanted to do this month. Or they could just concede to be “pregnant”… which is dangerous for every woman, because if one state passes something that crazy, others will follow suit. Then they’ll eventually be giving us virginity tests and having our snatches sewn up to where the opening is the size of a pencil eraser and requiring us to drown female babies because they’re not male and setting women on fire on their honeymoons because their dowry isn’t large enough and all that other shit that is already going on in the world right now.
4 (female): makes me never want to have kids….however, why should I deny myself the joy of having a family because this world is so corrupt? It’s unfair and there is nothing I can do about it. I just have to ignore it and keep going on about my day. That’s the only way I can stay sane about all this.
5 (me): We have it really good right now, in comparison with the rest of the world, but we also have to remember that the US is one of the youngest countries on earth, and there is still plenty of time for us to get royally fucked up like some of these other, millennia-old countries that we talk so much shit about.
5 (me): You shouldn’t have to deny yourself that joy. However, if the world doesn’t change before your granddaughters are born, they will be the ones having to endure the hardships brought onto women by the complacency of their ancestors.
5 (me): Hell, I don’t even think it will take two generations for things to get all the way back to women not being allowed to vote or own property, at this rate.
4 (female): I know…it’s fucking scary!
I wanted to share what we few people had to say when hearing about this law, and others like it. All the time, I hear people talking about how surreal the laws are becoming in this country, especially here in the last few months, pertaining to women’s reproductive health. Need I remind everyone that there are more women than men on Earth? Why, and how, is this happening? They got the guns, but we got the numbers. Stand up, ladies.
Now, I don’t think the law is necessarily Orwellian…but more Atwoodsian. Go out and get your hands on this book, which a futuristic novel, but was written in 1987, I think.
Read it…and tell me that it’s not creepy how many of the things that go on in that book are already happening. If you don’t read, there is also a movie based on the book, but I can’t vouch for how true to the book the movie will be. The premise of the novel is that the religious right has taken over America, the United States constitution is suspended, and a new republic has formed. Women with money in the bank find themselves unable to access any of their own assets. Offred, the protagonist, is now used as a sort of breeding sow to an upper-class couple, because she is one of the few women left in the country who is still fertile. Hence, her duty in the new society is to provide a womb wherein her master, the “Commander,” will attempt to spawn his seed when she ovulates. Also, pregnant women in Gilead have no access to things like ultrasound, amnio tests, or any other way of knowing whether or not their babies are healthy, because abortion is out of the question. However, once their babies are born and found to have a defect, they are referred to as “shredders,” and made to disappear in some undefined way. This book is just chock-full of great, and weirdly prophetic, stuff. Doesn’t sound too far-fetched, either, what with genetically modified foods being linked to infertility and all. http://www.greenpeace.org/international/en/press/releases/ge-threat-to-fertility-11112008/ And the “women as livestock” bill in Georgia. http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2012/03/31/at-11th-hour-georgia-passes-women-as-livestock-bill/ And all the talk last month about passing legislation that allows legal provisions for doctors who are opposed to abortion for any reason to lie to pregnant patients about whether or not their fetus will be born with a serious abnormality. https://www.aclu.org/blog/reproductive-freedom/kansas-pregnant-women-little-lie-your-doctor-wont-hurt-you
Now, I am not “pro-abortion” (I doubt that many people are “for” abortion. As in they root for it and try to promote it). I myself have never had one, and most likely would not ever have one unless it was a matter of life or death. However, I can understand why people have them, as long as they’re not using abortion in place of contraceptives (which are becoming increasingly hard to come by). And I strongly believe that a woman has control over her own body. Not allowed control over her own body, because the word “allowed” means that someone else, other than the woman, is in possession of a woman’s body. A woman is in possession of her own body. That means that she gets to say when she has sex, conceives, and gives birth, and no one else gets that say.
Anyway, I wasn’t planning to post today, but this all got me fired up. If nothing else, read Margaret Atwood’s book. I couldn’t put it down and read it all in one day.