A miscarriage of justice

Paul Raven @ 27-06-2011

I have shamelessly cloned the MetaFilter headline for use here, because there’s no better phrase to use in the context of American prosecutors attempting to sentence women who have miscarriages as murderers.

As the first MeFi commenter puts it, “[w]hy does this all feel like William Gibson and Margaret Atwood had a novel together?”… or we could ask why it is that Charlie Finlay’s short story “Your Life Sentence”- repeatedly attacked at time of publication as a straw man argument or hang-wringing panic about “something that could never happen here” – is looking more and more like a work of sociopolitical prolepsis.

Now, I have a well-earned reputation here as an equivocal fencesitter, but there are some things of which I am certain in my convictions, so allow me to draw this line in the sand. The war on women and womanhood – which is by no means exclusively American, right-wing or fundamentalist in its origins, but certainly seems to cluster around those axes – is disgusting Medieval bullshit, and it shames the nations in which it takes place. How can the same staunch Christians who support this intrusion of patriarchal law into the very bodies of women say with straight faces that Islam is a repressive and old-fashioned theocracy that must be fought into submission and reform? Look to the beams in your own eyes, gentlemen.

To be clear: you are perfectly within your rights to believe that personhood begins at conception, and that abortion is murder in the eyes of your chosen deity; indeed, the pro-choice framework incorporates and allows you that inalienable right, should you want it. But the moment you start insisting that everyone be bound by the same archaic and unscientific dogma that – inexplicably – helps you sleep at night, I will deploy Proudhon’s declaration as a universal: whosoever lays their hands on another to govern them is a tyrant and a usurper, and I declare them my enemy.

This is non-negotiable. Your jurisdiction over what should and should not be done to a body extend no further than the outer layer of your own skin. Your opinions on motherhood, abortion, contraception and ob/gyn practice may be enforced upon no womb other than your own.

And yes: that means that if you don’t possess a womb of your own, and never have done, you can shut the fuck up.

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