Thanks to some really stupid people in politics, abortion has been a major topic of conversation. Everything from Todd Akin's insistence that my vagina is telepathic and capable of secreting a special cervical calcite to form a contraceptive coral barrier in the event of verifiable rape, to reports that personhood legislation would outlaw the IUD that I decided was the healthiest form of birth control for my body and circumstances, has been in the news, on Facebook, made satire by comedians, and turned into pithy political cartoons and internet memes.
Here's what I've been seeing coming from politicians, friends, reporters, and bloggers who vote on the right side of the political system.
1. Abortion under all circumstances is wrong, even for pregnancy resulting from rape (assuming that's physically possible).
2. Birth control is morally wrong, and some forms of birth control are forms of abortion.
3. Universal prenatal healthcare is wrong.
4. Universal healthcare after birth is wrong.
5. Welfare is theft.
In other words, if you have sex, voluntary or not, you are 100% responsible for any fertilized egg that results, from birth until death, regardless of your income, parenting abilities, education level, living conditions, health, age, or number of already existing children, and you are not permitted to prevent this conception in any manner other than abstinence and the total omnipotent ability to never be raped or molested.
All sex is consent to be pregnant.
And, only married couples with money and the ability to have lots of children should actually have sex and have children.
"It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, they are supposed to be for purposes that are, yes, conjugal, but also [inaudible], but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen. We take any part of that out, we diminish the act. And if you can take one part out that’s not for purposes of procreation, that’s not one of the reasons, then you diminish this very special bond between men and women, so why can’t you take other parts of that out? And all of a sudden, it becomes deconstructed to the point where it’s simply pleasure. And that’s certainly a part of it — and it’s an important part of it, don’t get me wrong — but there’s a lot of things we do for pleasure, and this is special, and it needs to be seen as special." - Rick Santorum
"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better." - South Carolina Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, 2010
I propose completely different realities, starting with the most obvious but frequently ignored reality.
God and Mother Nature gave women a clitoris.
Unlike the penis, the sole purpose of the clitoris is sexual pleasure.
It does not ovulate. It does not shut down except for my fertile times of the month. It does not care for an embryo. It does not give birth. It does not aid urination. Its entire reason for being is to give women orgasms. Those orgasms aren't going to happen during a rape. You can't just beat the crap out of it and expect a thank you. A lot of the time, intercourse alone doesn't cut it, even when it is (gasp!) wanted and voluntary. The clitoris is why sex isn't just for having babies. The clitoris is a demand for direct engagement.
The penis is a utilitarian multi-tasker. The clitoris is a dedicated pleasure palace.
SEX DOES NOT NEGATE BODILY INTEGRITY.
Many anti-choice arguments are made to say that an embryo/fetus/unborn baby is also entitled to bodily integrity. This is one area where I have actually seen some intelligent, reasonable arguments coming from the anti-choice side, even though in the end the argument still fails.
The Violinist Thought Experiment asks a person to imagine they have woken up in a hospital attached to a famous violinist. They were not asked to volunteer or even informed of the event, but now they serve as life support for this person, and they are required to remain so for 9 months. They cannot change places with anyone else. If they detach from the violinist, he will die. The question is, do you have a moral or ethical obligation to stay attached?
The related abortion argument is that a woman does not have a moral obligation to be life support for another human being, even if rejecting that role means the other person will die.
This has been confirmed through other examples in and out of court, such as the case (Shimp v. McFall) where a dying man sued his cousin for refusing to donate bone marrow, since this cousin was his only match and without the procedure he would die. The judge said that while the cousin's decision to not go through the procedure was "morally indefensible," the idea that we can force someone to undergo a medical procedure for someone else is revolting. "For a society, which respects the rights of one individual, to sink its teeth into the jugular vein or neck of one of its members and suck from it sustenance for another member, is revolting to our hard-wrought concept of jurisprudence. [Forcible] extraction of living body tissue causes revulsion to the judicial mind. Such would raise the specter of the swastika and the inquisition, reminiscent of the horrors this portends." (source link)
Anti-choice proponents say that one thing makes these examples irrelevant to the birth control/abortion argument: that sex IS volunteering for the procedure. SEX IS consent to be life support for someone else. CONCEPTION over-rides personal bodily integrity.
"Roughly 99% of abortions are performed for pregnancies in which sex was consensual. Two people willingly participated in an action that carried the risk of making another life dependent on the woman’s body. This is distinct from being kidnapped and forcibly attached to someone. How would Thomson’s thought experiment change if you caused the violinist’s kidney ailment, connected your kidneys to his circulatory system, and then wanted to unplug?
Once pregnant, the woman is already donating her body to the fetus. It is not a question of whether she can be compelled to donate, but whether she can rescind the donation. This may seem a meaningless distinction until we reconsider Shimp v. McFall. How would the Court react if Shimp had already donated bone marrow to McFall and now wanted to have it back?" - Secular Pro-Life Perspectives
So we are back to a key point. Is SEX automatic consent to be pregnant? If you do consent, are you forbidden to change your mind if that pregnancy becomes extremely difficult to bear?
According to my clitoris, no.
You see, if sex was an automatic "hell yes" to procreation, we would only want sex during ovulation, like most mammals. I would only want sex about 3 or 4 days out of the month. And I would get pregnant almost every time.
"Santorum has argued that contraception is morally wrong because, “It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.” But human beings happily experience, witness, imagine, and lament a cornicopia of erotic encounters that couldn’t possibly result in conception. Leaving aside the many “perversions” happily practiced by humans the world over, the human female is available even for Vatican-approved missionary position intercourse—at least theoretically—when she’s menstruating, already pregnant, post-menopausal, or otherwise precluded from conceiving. Is this, too, an abomination? Even Santorum and his wife, who have had more children than most couples, have certainly had a lot more non-reproductive than reproductive sex over the years.
It’s the nature of the human beast. For Homo sapiens, sex is primarily about establishing and maintaining relationships—relationships often characterized by love, or at least affection. Reproduction is a by-product of human sexual behavior, not its primary purpose." - What Rick Santorum Doesn’t Know About Sex, January 6, 2012 by Christopher Ryan
The ability to decide if and when to have children, how long to remain pregnant, and how many children to have, is also critical for planned and wanted pregnancies.
In 2009, pregnant mother Samantha Burton was court ordered to check into the hospital for forced bed rest when she went into premature labor. She had refused the doctor's original order because they wanted her to remain hospitalized for several months, despite having two toddlers who needed her at home. She miscarried 3 days into her hospitalization.
Also in 2009, a couple gave birth at home to a healthy baby with the assistance of a midwife. Because of complications for the mother, they called 911. The couple was then charged with child endangerment for the home birth, even though home birth is legal in all 50 states.
In 2004, Melissa Rowland refused a c-section for her twins, even though the doctors said their lives were at stake. When she did eventually consent, one of the twins died, and she was charged with murder. Having undergone 3 c-sections myself, I can absolutely see why a woman would be terrified of being cut open. Maternal mortality goes up 300% during a c-section. Does a woman fearing for her own life really commit murder when she refuses a medical treatment? Is there absolute evidence that a c-section would have saved the twin's life?
"The case also raises a number of policy questions. As an initial matter, if Stenberg v. Carhart stands for the proposition that a woman’s health is inviolate, even when balanced with her child’s life, how can that be harmonized with Mrs. Rowland’s prosecution? What would the impact of allowing forcible c-sections be on pregnant women’s decisions to go to the hospital in the first place? Should a woman still have the choice of facility and doctor for her involuntary c-section?
Obstetrician/gynecologists have among the highest listing rates in the National Practitioner’s Databank [Alisa's note: A database maintained by the federal government that contains information on physicians and other medical practitioners against whom medical malpractice claims have been settled or other disciplinary actions have been taken (Source)], but this information is not available to the public. Doesn’t a woman facing an involuntary c-section have an overriding need to know this information?" - Rowland Case Illustrates Maternal-Fetal Conflict, By Marshall L. Wilde, LL.M. 2003
"Almost half of the maternal-fetal specialists surveyed in a recent national study thought that pregnant women who refused medical advice and thereby endangered their future children should be detained in hospitals and forced to "follow doctors orders." A growing number of legal cases throughout the U.S. show a trend toward forced treatment of pregnant women--court ordered Cesarean sections, mandatory diet restrictions and, as in [one] case, incarceration for failing to follow medical advice. But does society have a right to control the behavior of pregnant women? " - Forcing Pregnant Women to do as They're Told: Maternal vs. Fetal Rights, By Claire Andre and Manuel Velasquez
Cases like these are not uncommon. A woman's right over her own body, her right to refuse medical care, her right to determine where to give birth and with whom, all of these rights are frequently challenged by medical professionals in the guise of having the unborn baby's best interest in mind. Even worse is when their demands run counter to established scientific evidence, such as when hospitals ban Vaginal Birth After Cesareans, or doctors refuse to continue prenatal care if a woman turns down even one recommended test or procedure. Bodily Integrity becomes secondary to obedience to authority, even when that authority is wrong.
Family Planning Has Been Upheld As a Human Right
It has a long way to go, but under Article 16 of the United Nation's Declaration on Human Rights, it has been declared that all people have a right to marry and establish families, which has been clarified to include the diverse ways families and marriages take place around the world.
Poor people DO have a right to have a family. It has also been determined that they also have a right to NOT have a family. It is not acceptable to keep birth control from people, and on the other hand it is not acceptable to insist that people not have children if they need assistance providing for them.
(d) Right to family planning
This right of individuals to freely determine the number and spacing of their children has been recognised by major UN conferences on population and development in Tehran in 1968 and in Cairo in 1994. However, the right has not been enshrined in a legally binding human rights treaty and the whole issue of family planning remains a controversial one for a variety of reasons: fear of coercive family planning programmes; idea that family planning promotes promiscuity; abortion debate and status of the unborn child.
(e) Rights of children to parental care
The rights of children to parental care are specifically protected in children’s rights treaties and governs the obligations of states to ensure children are not separated from the parents without a due judicial process, and to provide support for the parent and family unit. Provisions governing maternity rights no doubt stem from the basic principle that the fundamental bond between mother and child should be supported. A number of treaties emphasise the need to states to provide extra provision for pregnant women, to allow them maternity leave before and after childbirth which is either paid leave or leave with adequate social security benefits.
Even though it is recognized as a complex issue, the standard understanding is that family planning is the right of the family itself, not of the state or religious institutions. It is also recognized as a right of a child to be cared for by their parent, and states should support that unity, financially when necessary.
So while the fundamental question comes down to sex and pregnancy, my answer is "clitoris."
My clitoris will be demanding pleasure long after my physical ability to have children has passed. My clitoris demands pleasure now, while I have an IUD to prevent, not more children, but more c-sections preceded by liver and kidney failure. My clitoris is why sex is not presumed openness to be pregnant. My clitoris is absolute evidence that the current mind-boggling arguments about personhood, birth control, and abortion are wrong.