Thursday, February 23, 2006

My Uterus Is Sovereign Territory

Sigh. The South Dakotans are barely restraining the gleeful cackles. You can't blame them, the poor things; ever since Alito's confirmation they and their ilk have been bobbing around, hopping from one foot to the other, rubbing their palms together, licking their chops, just waiting for the soonest possible moment to introduce a piece of shit legislation like this one. No abortions in South Dakota. The sole exception is to save the life of the mother, and I'm guessing the mother would have to be bleeding out from a severed femoral artery for the state to even grudgingly agree to the procedure. No exception for rape, either unrelated or incestuous. No concern for the life of the woman or girl involved. Just for the embryo.

No recognition that a girl's life may be endangered by an unwanted pregnancy in ways that are not always immediately fatal or apparent to the inexperienced eye. Only a man who has never been sexually assaulted can say with a straight face that carrying her rapist's fetus to term and delivering the baby will not destroy a girl. She is effectively murdered; the child she was before the assault ceases to exist. She is told that her life is inconsequential and must now be sacrificed for the clump of cells implanted inside her against her will. She must deal with the enormous physical and emotional burdens that even a planned-for, desired pregnancy brings. She must see her stomach swell with each passing week, feeling the fetus move inside her, every kick and poke of an uninvited person inside her reminding her of the initial intrusion into her body. And she knows that everyone else sees it too. Everyone who knows her will know why, will know what happened, will be a partner in her punishment simply by seeing her.

For it will be a punishment. Biology dictates that the woman, the girl, is left holding the bag when the man takes off. Forcing a rape victim to carry the process through to its end stamps her with the scarlet letter, brands her as damaged goods, with no way to hide or escape. All the old dicta we thought we'd outgrown (oh, she must've been asking for it, she didn't call for help, she didn't fight hard enough, she shouldn't have been walking alone, she should have told someone about what her daddy was doing to her, and did you see what she was wearing that night?) will come home to roost on the plains, in the shadow of Mt. Rushmore. What is this law, but "you've made your bed; now lie in it" writ large?

There is no way out except the old ways. Rich women will fly someplace else. Poor women will stab at their cervixes with knitting needles. Or at their wrists with razor blades.

I'm guessing South Dakota isn't going to follow up on this Draconian measure by making birth control readily available and affordable, by teaching effective safer sex methods in classrooms.

In other news, a Republican state rep from Mesa introduced legislation in the Arizona statehouse to prevent AZ cities and counties for purchasing health insurance plans for their employees that cover abortions. Unbelievably, no similar provision has been introduced to prevent those insurance plans from covering erectile disfunction medications.

All hail the mighty penis. If women and girls get pregnant, well, hell. It's our own damn fault, or a gift from God. Somehow I think they want us to see it as both.

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