Thursday, February 08, 2007

"Women" vs. Women

I've seen this kind of legislation proposed before, and I can see how it's both good- and bad-intentioned, but mostly it makes me roll my eyes.
Rep. Bob Nonini, R-Coeur d’Alene, persuaded the committee to introduce his bill to outlaw the use of threats or physical force to dissuade a pregnant woman from giving birth. The measure also prohibits threatening to do “anything that the person does not have the legal right to do against the pregnant woman.” That could include employers threatening to withhold a job or promotion or “a school counselor maybe describing to a young person that by having this baby you have no future, those kinds of acts,” Nonini told the panel, Howell reported. Under the measure, it does not matter if the woman has the abortion.
Emphasis mine. So with the passage of this bill, you won't be able to do illegal things. Crazy! Of course, there doesn't seem to be any discernment between advising - or even suggesting - to abort and coercing to abort, so what we have brewing here is yet another adventure in costing Idaho taxpayers money for the sake of unconstitutional anti-abortion bills.

Thinking about it, I wonder how this kind of legislation would interact with parental consent laws - another issue on which Idaho politicians aren't concerned with abiding by the Constitution. If this bill were written with actual freedom of choice in mind - where it would be a crime to forcibly keep a woman from aborting a pregnancy as well as when forcing her to abort - I think it might work nicely in tandem with parental consent legislation.

But that's not what this is about. This is the same women-can't-make-decisions claptrap that the Feminists for Life keep trying to sell, which conveniently wastes the time of pregnant women interested in abortion - who are working to a deadline, after all.

The FFL come from a (demonstrably untrue) perspective where women are unable to consent to abortion. It's an essentially misogynistic perspective, that completely sidesteps the concern that the FFL says they have at their core - female experience of pregnancy, motherhood and abortion. What compounds the anti-woman effect is the way it deprioritizes actual women's voices in favor of the voices that enforce patriarchy. This same mechanism works to trivialize and excuse rape; if women can't be trusted to make their own decisions about their bodies in cases of pregnancy, why should they have any more authority in the area of sexual activity? How can we pin down their actual consent to sexual activity outside of marriage? How can she withhold consent within marriage?

How can we believe women at all?

UPDATE: It was pointed out to me that I sound like I'm saying Nonini and the FFL are unconcerned with rape. I don't believe that. I do believe that this is an example of lazy, deterministic thinking (in which feminists have also indulged from time to time) that uses a predetermined moral order to ascertain what people want and how people feel, instead of actually asking them. It's a sin to abort, it's a sin to have sex outside of marriage, and it's a sin to disobey your husband; therefore any good woman cannot choose abortion, cannot consent to sex outside of marriage, and will not refuse her husband's sexual advances. It's a convenient way to cram the square peg of reality into the round hole of ideology, but it's intellectually dishonest and when wielded by legislators, dangerous.

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