Your Uterus: Property of the State of Tennessee/North Dakota!

Your uterus may soon no longer be your own, if you live in Tennessee or North Dakota.

North Dakota's Fetal Personhood
The state of North Dakota, yesterday, passed in Assembly a "fetal personhood" amendment, which writes into state law that a fertilized egg, even before it attaches to the wall of the uterus and begins developing, has all the rights of a person under the state constitution. Mind you, there is no way to medically determine the existence of a fertilized egg until it implants, so this law technically grants rights to a fertilized egg before we can even detect its existence. Tell me how that makes sense?

If this passes the state Senate, the used tampons and pads of any woman whose period was a few days late are a potential crime scene. A woman who has a miscarriage can be investigated and possibly prosecuted for manslaughter or even murder. What if a woman eats tuna, high in mercury and not recommended for pregnant women, or drinks too much coffee? Will she be monitored, fined, or charged with neglect or abuse? What about an ectopic pregnancy? Must doctors wait until the fallopian tube ruptures, since they cannot "kill" the "person", and just hope they can stop the bleeding before the woman dies? When does the embryo get its SSN? Can you claim a tax deduction a whole year earlier, then? How about frozen embryos in IVF clinics? Aren't they people, too? And not only does this outlaw abortion entirely, this could mean that birth control is no longer legal either, since one of the ways in which hormonal birth control works is to thin the lining of the uterus to make implantation more difficult for a fertilized egg.

And if the embryo has the rights of a person, shouldn't it have the responsibilities, too? Charge it with domestic violence when it kicks. How about trespassing, if it's where it's not wanted? In fact, I should think you could argue in favor of permitting abortion, because the embryo is holding the woman's body hostage at great risk to life and health, and she should have the right to defend herself with deadly force if necessary. Going yet one step further, since the 14th amendment to the Constitution of the US clearly says that a citizen is one "born or naturalized", the little womb-leech is an undocumented immigrant. Deport it!

Tennessee's Pregnant-Woman-Monitoring
In addition to this clusterfuck of dumbassery, Tennessee has had a bill introduced today which requires mandatory alcohol and drug testing, followed by mandated rehab, if any of the following occur:
(1) No prenatal care;
(2) Late prenatal care after twenty-four (24) weeks gestation;
(3) Incomplete prenatal care;
(4) Abruptio placentae;
(5) Intrauterine fetal death;
(6) Preterm labor of no obvious cause;
(7) Intrauterine growth retardation of no obvious cause;
(8) Previously known alcohol or drug abuse; or
(9) Unexplained congenital anomalies.
Have a religious objection to medical care? You must be on drugs, get a test! Can't take a day off work so you miss an appointment late in your pregnancy? You're probably an alcoholic, get a test! Switch providers without notifying your previous OB? You crackhead, get a test! Have a miscarriage? It was probably your fault for doing all those drugs, take a test! Go into labor early, which happens naturally all the time? You must have triggered it with your drinking. Your baby has a birth defect? All your fault, we're putting you in rehab. Recovered alcoholic who's been sober for ten years? We don't trust you, because we all know women get stupid when they're pregnant, so you need tested anyway.

So a woman who has a glass of wine one night - which, mind you, is still perfectly legal even if you're pregnant, and occasional alcohol use has been shown to cause no damage to the fetus - and misses her appointment two days later, can be forced into rehab. Which forces her to take time off work, and quite possibly lose her job. All for the sin of having a drink and missing an appointment. And what if she has children already? I'm sure the state will be happy to shove the children into the already overworked and underfunded foster system while their pregnant mother is in treatment for alcoholism she doesn't have. What a fucking nightmare.

As different as these bills are in their details, the premises are the same:
  • Life begins at conception
  • Women are not capable of taking care of themselves and their fetuses
  • Therefore, the state has both the right (since they can't do it themselves) and the obligation (since that's already a little citizen of their state in there) to do so for them.
The idea that life begins at conception is really the foundation upon which this argument rests. Without that, even if you assume women are just too stupid/emotional/what-the-hell-ever to take care of themselves during pregnancy, that becomes a personal problem that the state might have a reason to offer help with, but has no reason to mandate treatment for.

To be honest, the only way I've heard people advocate for the "Life begins at conception!" idea is with their religion. Christianity, in particular. Jeremiah 1:5 says, "I knew you even before I formed you in your mother's womb," which apparently means that personhood begins even before conception. (I think the womb-control crowd only uses conception because they would be laughed off the planet if they proposed to make birth control, male masturbation, and female abstinence illegal all in one fell swoop.)

Can someone please explain to me why people feel it is acceptable to try to write their religious beliefs into laws that will be applied to those not of their faith? I really don't get it. The kind of blind, patronizing arrogance it takes to say "My god told me what's best for you, so I'm going to make you do it whether you want to or not, whether you believe in my god or not," with a straight face is just stunning. So Christianity believes that life begins at/before conception. Well, Judaism holds that life begins at the first breath. Hindu belief holds that abortion is murder, although I cannot find any clear statement on when life begins. And Pagans, we range the whole spectrum, from those who feel that the spirit destined for that body incarnates early in the pregnancy and thus an abortion violates that spirit's wishes, to those who feel that the spirit incarnates later, as early as quickening or as late as birth depending on the belief, and so early abortion is no big deal.

So why, then, is one religion trying to speak for everyone? My body is not for sale or rent, to any government or any god not of my choosing. Stop trying to steal it anyway.

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