I’ve often wondered if Margaret Atwood, when she wrote The Handmaid’s Tale in 1985, was tuning in on the future. We haven’t quite arrived at the point where all fertile women serve at the will of powerful men and must wear the red handmaid’s garb, but Missouri is now one step closer to that Dystopian vision.
Three weeks ago, that state’s health director – a white man – told Planned Parenthood that in order to renew their license in the state, all women seeking abortions had to be subjected to a state-mandated internal exam three days before the procedure. This unnecessary exam is a punitive measure to discourage women from having abortions. Physicians at the last clinic in Missouri that performs abortions said they would comply in order to keep the clinic open.
Tonight, Dr. David Eisenberg, the clinic’s medical director, said,“We no longer need to do this unnecessary and medically unethical, invasive, uncomfortable pelvic exam as part of informed consent. We are choosing to provide the best quality, patient-centered care that we’ve always provided at Planned Parenthood. That includes doing things that are driven by science, by evidence and by what’s medically appropriate.” To continue this medically unnecessary exam, Eisenberg said,
“Is just assault.”
In other words, the clinic is defying the state-mandated law.
Missouri, by the way, makes no except for rape or incest. So whether a woman is raped by her father or a stranger, she must, by state law, carry that baby to term.
Roe v Wade has been federal law since December 1973. That was 46 years ago and so-called pro-life advocates have been trying to overturn it ever since. These are the same people who claim that every human life is precious, yet when a child is born, well, sorry, you’re on your own. No universal health care for you, no child care unless your parents have money, and frankly, we’d like to make all education private because having the public pay for it is, you know, SOCIALISM.
But the central issue with abortion is that the woman is the one who gets pregnant, it’s her body, and it should be her choice whether she carries the baby to term. No one mandates the way a man uses his body, but if Roe v Wade is overturned, then there should be laws that do so.
Daily, we creep closer and closer to what Atwood envisioned in the Republic of Gilead, a Dystopian world where women are completely subjected to the will of men. I realize there are plenty of women who support trump and the republican agenda that makes such extreme laws possible. Many of you are mothers with daughters who, at some point in the future, may experience an unwanted pregnancy – through rape, carelessness, or within an abusive relationship. Some of these daughters may be young or impoverished or hampered in some way. Why shouldn’t they have the choice of terminating a pregnancy? Why bring a child into conditions like this?
Some months back, when immigrant children were being rounded up and put in detention camps by the trump administration, I argued with a republican neighbor about this. And he said, “Trish, if your daughter was killed by an drunk illegal immigrant driving a car, how would you feel?”
My response? It was more likely that the driver would be a white guy who’d had one too many at the local bar. My response should have been, “How would you feel if a gunman walked into your daughter’s high school and opened fire?”
It’s all part of the same maniacal, divisive culture in which we find ourselves at this particular juncture in the second decade of the 21st century.