It’s not just a choice, it’s a question of freedom — Liberal Street Fighter.

In some of the good news that came out of Tuesday’s election, one of the more heartening was the rejection by California voters of Arnold’s parental notification ballot initiative, though I suspect that the rejection was as much or more a reflection of the rising unpopularity of the Governor. In fact, something that Arnold said about the initiative before the election underlines the true reason that such laws are on the books in forty-four states. As quoted in the Village Voice — Roe v. No, Arnold said:

“I wouldn’t want to have someone take my daughter to a hospital for an abortion or something and not tell me. I would kill him if they do that.”

There it is, the ugly little core at the heart of such policies: control and the threat of violence.
The illustration above is from a webpage available at Info for Health dot org, published online by the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. While the Theofascists wax poetic about how precious pre-sentient potential humans are, worldwide women go unprotected from the one thing most likely to kill them and their fetuses: violence, usually by their partner:

Around the world, as many as one woman in every four is physically or sexually abused during pregnancy, usually by her partner. Estimates vary widely, however. Within the US, for example, estimates of abuse during pregnancy range from 3% to 11% among adult women and up to 38% among teenage mothers. Some of this variation is likely due to differences in how the questions were asked, how often, and by whom.

The terrible biproduct of this sad fact of many women’s lives is the real reason that TRAP laws and measures such as Parental Notification and Spousal Notification are so repressive and dangerous. The very people who may most need discreet, private and prompt medical care are the very ones most damaged by these patriarchical control measures.

These are the true stakes that women, and we men who truly support them, face in the growing atmosphere of repression in this country. Many men who support restrictions on abortion are quick to ask, “what about MY rights? It’s my child too.” In other words, they want to maintain some type of control of a situation over which they, as a condition of the raw facts of human reproduction, have none.

It’s time to be blunt about this. Everytime a man chooses to have sex with a woman, protected or not, he’s choosing the possibility of being a father. That’s when you have control gentlemen. That’s it, that moment. I don’t care if you’re drunk, in love or horny. That’s when you exercise control over your destiny. If you are an honorable man, you’ll face the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy, and her choices about what to do with her body, with support and humility. It’s not about you anymore after you make that choice. That’s a fact of life that men have tried to avoid since time immemorial, and they’ve tried to suppress that fact with religious dogma, laws, societal pressures and even their fists. It doesn’t make it less so because it seems unfair. This is how we’re built as a species.

In fact, if fetuses were truly so precious, we’d actually do things to protect them and the women who carry them inside until they enter the world and begin the long, slow process of becoming independent human beings. We’d enforce support decrees brought against dishonorable men who don’t fulfill their obligations. Every woman would have access to reproductive healthcare, and every pregnant woman would have access to pre-natal care if she chooses to carry to term. Safe and discreet abortion services should be provided for those who choose not to, and it’s nobody else’s business why they make that choice. To do otherwise is to render women less free, and many of the tactics used to restrict her freedom result in health problems, financial ruin for her and her children and even to her death.

“I wouldn’t want to have someone take my daughter to a hospital for an abortion or something and not tell me. I would kill him if they do that.”

Is that the kind of thinking we want determining the healthcare policies of this country? A truly civilized country wouldn’t fall back on archaic calls for control and violence, a truly civilized society would actually take active measures to protect the health and safety of our fellow citizens and their children.

Plainly, we’ve got a long way to go before we can call ourselves a civilized country.

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