Saturday, March 17, 2012

deploy the 10" shaming wand

I'm glad that the shocking business with abortion legislation in Texas has popped up on Ben Goldacre's radar, because his entirely proper outrage about it illustrates the ridiculousness of his statements in the belief survey I linked to a while back. You cannot rationally simultaneously hold to the positions that:
  • the Texas law is an abomination amounting to state-sponsored punishment of women by making them undergo pointless violation and extended anguish and trauma as revenge for wanting to exercise choice and autonomy over their own reproductive health, and moreover an abomination dreamt up principally by fundamentalist Christians
  • I'm not really bothered about the question of whether God exists, it's all a bit boring really
Well, if the fundamentalist Christians are right and you really are going to BURN IN HELL FOR ALL ETERNITY for choosing to have an abortion, then it's actually rational and compassionate for them to be enacting legislation that makes getting an abortion more difficult, isn't it? So the question is actually pretty important, isn't it?

I don't want this to be about Dr. Ben, though, as in general he is a source of good sense and rationality. That Texas sonogram bill is one of the most sulphurously evil things I've ever seen, though. And again, it's perhaps hard to understand just how evil while sitting here in the UK with our state-funded medical care and our multiple hospitals within easy reach of most people - if your only nearby hospital is a Catholic-run one that won't perform terminations at all, even to save the life of the mother (for fear of getting excommunicated), even if the fetus is already dead, and you then have to travel (assuming that you have the resources to do so, and can get time off work) potentially tens or hundreds of miles to a hospital that will perform the procedure, the last thing you need is to be told that some men somewhere have decided that you, as a weak and feeble-minded woman, clearly won't have realised how human reproduction works or the consequences of what you're about to do, and so you need to be painfully probed, then have an unwanted ultrasound scan shoved in your face and (just in case you close your eyes or something) described to you in detail, and then be forced to wait another 24 hours before having the procedure carried out.

Again, just to recalibrate our ethics-ometer here, the purpose of all this is to:
  • shame and humiliate women for exercising choice over their own sex lives, and not just being passive semen receptacles;
  • deter people who would otherwise seek abortions from doing so, with the consequence that they either have the child (which the enactors of the bill will instantly stop caring about as soon as it's outside the womb) as God intended or undergo some kind of botched amateur procedure which will take her pansy pinko pro-choice heathen ass out of the gene pool anyway. It's a win-win situation;
  • remind people that women may own the wombs, but they and those wombs are owned by men, and suggestions otherwise make baby Jesus cry;
  • throw a smokescreen over all this by claiming it's about "providing information" while simultaneously enacting further legislation that will indemnify doctors from getting sued should they withhold information from women that might otherwise have inclined them to get an abortion.
Here's a montage of a week's worth of Garry Trudeau's Doonesbury cartoon strips on exactly this subject. To see the one here in readable form (as Blogger only wants to display it really small for some reason) right-click and select "Open in New Tab". To see them in their original form on the website, start here.

To be honest I find Doonesbury a bit incomprehensible a lot of the time as you need to live with it for a while to get to know who the characters are, but this is exactly what political cartooning should be: courageous, savage and satirical. Predictably, despite Doonesbury's status as an American institution (and one whose liberal instincts are hardly a secret) a disappointingly large proportion of newspaper editors who would normally carry the strip failed to display a similar degree of courage (or indeed respect for their readers) and evidently felt it might be better to have a week off and just put up some old Garfield cartoons instead or something.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, it seems to me that RELIGIOUS FREEDOM could go a LONG way towards saving women from the “shaming wand”… Religious freedoms (and special religious exemptions from rules and laws, like allowing male Jewish people to wear skull-caps in court-rooms where hats are prohibited to the rest of us, as being “disrespectful” to the courts) should not be reserved just for people society calls “virtuous”. Women seeking abortions should be able to get special religious exemptions as well. Please go to and search for (towards the way bottom) “shaming wand”. Then also please see for specific and concrete examples on just HOW to use religious freedom to exempt yourselves from the “shaming wand”… As an entirely practical matter! Planned Parenthood web sites won’t tell me their email addresses, so I don’t know how to get the Good Word about Scienfoology “Out There”… Please help! Or at least, spread the Good Word! –