Some tiny creature, mad with wrath,

Is coming nearer on the path.

--Edward Gorey

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. Outlying Islands

Writer, lawyer, cyclist, rock climber, wanderer of dark residential streets, friend.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Only Straight, Middle Class, Married Couples Need Apply [sigh]

In the past, I've sparred with Binky, publicly and in private correspondence, about the degree of umbrage one plausibly can maintain with regard to various issues pertaining to female bodily autonomy and other reproductive issues. She's definitely further out than I am in certain ways, which of course is fine. She's on the same side of the reproductive schism as I am, which is quite enough for me.

But today she reproduces, analyzes, skewers, and properly rails against one of the more appalling bits of proposed legislation I've seen in a long time. In essence, legislators in Indiana have introduced a comprehensive bill that would restrict access to in vitro fertilization of any sort to a couple consisting of a married man and woman, and would require them to submit to a battery of evaluations of their fitness and competency, including criminal history, "values" (!!!), and psychological reports.

Although it seems unlikely that this legislation would pass constitutional muster, one can never tell, especially if Miers turns out to be the stealth fundamentalist some people fear. In any case, Binky writes well and at length and furnishes all the links you need to get a handle on this incredible story.

It really makes one wonder what sort of world our children are going to grow up in. Assuming, that is, the government allows us to have children in the first place.


Anonymous binky said...

It's not just me and the Feministing and BoomansTribune blogs I referenced, either. There are these, and I'm sure others will be popping up all over.

What She Said
Our Word

As to why I am more "out there" than you, my dear Moon, I would suspect it has something to do with having come face to face with others who desired to control my fertility, and had neither respect for my agency as a fellow adult human nor for my own desires about how my life would be. Confronting a view that values female dependence via pregnancy more than female autonomy over her own reproduction, tends to be a bit of a wake-up call.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Moon said...

I didn't say "out there," I said "further out," and I think where the former is freighted with "wacky" connotations the latter better captured my sense that there is a spectrum of opinion on which you and I fall differently. Furthermore, where I fall on that spectrum has nothing to do with the fact that I have a penis insofar as I can find millions, literally millions, of American women, some of whom have probably had whatever experience you've had, who end up in the same place on the spectrum as I have, just as you can find men in your area of the spectrum whom you wouldn't discredit based on their penis-havingness simply because in your view you perceive them as "getting it." Finally, notwithstanding our scuffles, I think at the end of the day you and I aren't far apart, albeit for different reasons, perhaps.

Does that sound about right?

In any case, I was complimenting an excellent post and a good catch, acknowledging a difference of opinion as mellowly as I could, and expressing my unequivocal solidarity with you with respect to the Indiana legislation.

As for the rest, I will grant, and indeed confirm your presumption regarding my penis-havingness, and acknowledge furthermore that this disqualifies me from ever having had or having sought and been denied an abortion. But outside the incidents of myself in fact being pregnant, a biological impossibility, you have no right to assume anything else about my experience with reproductive procedures and regulations. To do so would be to take for granted things about me you couldn't possibly know.

Thank you for the additional links, and for calling attention to that ridiculous legislation.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous binky said...

Hold on friend, I was explaining, not putting my dukes up. And I do think you are right, that we probably aren't that far apart in the end. I'm just, you know, a lot LOUDER about it all. :)

And I'm not worried about your penis-having-ness (which is a great hyphenation) or suggesting that it's the only reason you and I differ.

I was talking about people in my life who have thought they had more right than I did to decide that I should reproduce, and they had no hesitation about being nasty about it. It's a matter of simply guessing that you have not encountered the same thing in a relationship. Maybe you have. Again I say, having confronted someone who is willing to undermine your personal autonomy to further their own goals, serves as a wake-up call.

Lastly, I was not talking at all about abortion. I was talking about forced pregnancy.

4:36 PM  
Blogger Moon said...

yeah, so i got a little silly, but you should know my dukes are always up. :-)

something in what you said reminded me of majikthise's sparring with the black commentator over the right to assess the offensiveness of a putatively racist advertisement for PETA, and i thought she deconstructed well the issue parochialism manifest in the argument that only a black person can speak to discrimination. i mean, can only a teenager who wants to distribute free porn in high school speak on the issue of censorship? pick a right, construct a ridiculous hypothetical -- the notion fails.

but i have another question:

when you reframe the debate to forced pregnancy, are you _literally_ talking about forced pregnancy, or rather "forced" pregnancy as a consequence of abortion not being available.

i ask because while there's an obvious way to reach such terminology, contingent on your convictions, that's extreme question begging.

8:30 AM  
Anonymous binky said...

No really, forced pregnancy. Where sex is consensual, but unprotected sex intended for reproduction is not. Where a woman does not want to become pregnant in the first place, regardless of her options afterwards.

I know your implication is rape, or marital rape as a subset, and that could be the extreme end of what I am talking about, but I'm more in the grey zones.

In more general terms, I mean situations where a woman's desire for reproductive autonomy is seen as a not as imporant as the value of others' (partner, society, etc) expectations of reproduction.

The "marriage is a contract for childbirth" mentality (oh, and it's out there). Deception in sexual relationships (we'll do it the Catholic way, I swear! oops! sorry! my timing was off) with deliberate intent. Lack of concern for consequences (oh honey, it won't be a big deal if you get pregnant).

Of course, the simple answer is to refuse sex under these circumstances. I could do that. I am independent, old, large, and loud. And I wear very mean boots. Yet, still, I have been on the receiving end of such behavior.

And I think of those who do not have the power I do. Is it my job to make up their minds for them? To protect them? No. But I think it's important to "call bullshit" on laws, proposed laws, and patterns of behavior that reduce female autonomy. I don't think we should encourage, or look the other way about, laws that stack the deck against women having full autonomy over their reproductive lives.

So when I say, I've confronted it, I guess I mean, by personal experience and that of women I have worked with and taught, as well as the volumes of research and reporting, I have seen enough evidence - and via the personal stuff, felt it viscerally - to conclude there are people who want to restrict women's reproductive autonomy, individually and systematically.

And it really fucking pisses me off.

9:11 AM  
Anonymous binky said...

Oh, and I just saw a comment about how this might be an attempt to start a case that could end up at the SCOTUS to attack Griswold. What do you think, Moon?

9:20 AM  

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