Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Livestock and Women: Some Reflections on Reproductive Politics

I'm reading The Hunger Games, and I got to a scene where the protagonist (don't worry, no spoilers) Katniss, is showcasing her combat skills for a group of "Gamemakers" who could prove instrumental in her upcoming performance in a fight-to-the-death battle that will be broadcast on national television. She's the last one to perform for these Gamemakers, and they are tired and distracted by a roast pig that's been laid before them as dinner. Katniss gets frustrated:
"Suddenly, I am furious, that with my life on the line, they don't even have the decency to pay attention to me. That I'm being upstaged by a dead pig." 
Oh, Katniss. I hear you.

Last week, Terry England, co-sponsor of Georgia House Bill 954, compared women to pigs and cows and suggested that because these animals carry stillborn fetuses until they go into labor and deliver "naturally," that women should, too. Anything else, apparently, is "playing God."

Wait. Isn't it "playing God," then, to remove a cancerous tumor? To wear eyeglasses? To put on a coat so you don't freeze to death? To take Tylenol to break a fever? It seems to me that we "interfere" with God's "natural" plans all the time. Why is this particular intervention--which, again, is not aborting a living fetus, but removing dead (and potentially harmful) tissue--different?

Regardless of your stance on abortion (and my own is complicated), this--to me--is completely illogical and a clear attack on women. A nationwide attack that comes along with bills making it legal for doctors to withhold medical information from their pregnant patients, all-male panels deciding the availability of birth control, and women voicing their informed opinions derided as "sluts" and "prostitutes" by powerful Republican figureheads.

So, yes, when Katniss says "they don't even have the decency to pay attention to me," I empathize.

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