Mothers’ Day

I’d like to start this post the way any half-decent person should by thanking my mother for having me, taking care of me and generally being great. There are literally billions of other women out there I need to tip my hat to as well, so please consider this a broadcasting of gratitude to all female caretakers of the world today.

Following that, I need to turn to more pressing matters. That is, most specifically, the forced maternity hoisted upon countless women each year through coercion into pregnancy, inaccessibility of birth control or abortion services and new, draconian laws designed to shame women for having had sex.

We look at Mothers’ Day as a day to think about all that the women we call mothers (and grandmothers, stepmothers, attentive aunts, responsible sisters, etc.) do and go through for us. We talk about the sacrifice, the toil, the hard work… These are women responsible for the rearing of the next generation, women we trust with our literal future. And yet, for some reason, these women don’t deserve to decide what happens to their bodies.

For some reason, we allow the misogynistic minority to have all the attention and the legislative power. “Why don’t you just give it up for adoption?” is a common and widely-accepted counter-argument to a woman who says “I’d like to decide what, if anything, I dedicate my body to for nine months at a time.” For some reason, we worship these women who go through hell and high water to provide for us, but if she happens to not want a child, we discount all of the troubles, stress and complications that pregnancy (and motherhood!) can bring. We don’t trust women to make a choice, but we trust them to raise a child?

The disconnect between logic (“Mothering is hard and important and should only be entered into by someone dedicated to the task at hand.”) that we enshrine today in bouquets and pink cards and fundamental disrespect for women (“The wants and needs of a woman ought to be trumped by another person’s idea of morality.”) is frightening and getting bigger. It’s getting scarier and more real every day and there’s no sign of it letting up. It’s exhausting and people are tired of hearing about it; it’s easier to play Pokémon Tower Defense games. And that is precisely what “they” want. When people aren’t paying attention, they’re free to slip through ultrasound bills, waiting periods and doctors’-scripts legislation. We’re getting worn down and mothers are getting marginalized to the point of being utterly inconsequential.

*Women have been jailed for “attempted infanticide” after falling down stairs or trying to kill themselves.

*During the hearings for the Ohio Heartbeat bill(1), an ultrasound was performed on a woman to show the fetal heartbeat. The woman was not asked to say anything.

*Women who do choose to carry their pregnancies to term are being slapped with proposals for drastic cuts to the programs they need to care for their children, including having high schools for young mothers shut down and their students arrested.

We need to make sure that our nation remembers that women are people, this and every day. Mothers’ Day should be a time of gratitude and appreciation for the women who take care of us, not a time when we look with horror at the systematic abuse of legislated morality.

(1) Makes abortion illegal after the first detectible fetal heartbeat. This can happen as early as eighteen days, whereas pregnancy tests aren’t reliable until around day twenty-one. It’s designed solely to attack first-trimester abortions (when 89% of abortions happen) and to make abortion inaccessible to women who don’t even know they’re pregnant yet. It is an essentially arbitrary distinction aimed at stripping women’s rights in anyway they can, because fetuses develop at different rates and the position of the fetus, age and weight of the mother and the manner of ultrasound can obscure readings. Essentially, one woman may be allowed to get an abortion at eight weeks while another wouldn’t. It has passed the Ohio House.

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