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Women's Birthing Rights, Women's Bodies

The Ongoing War on Women

This woman inmate was shackled throughout her labor and delivery.

So the news here in Washington is all about the arrest of a 17-year-old girl who abandoned her baby near a retaining pond after having given birth.  A neighbor heard the baby crying and found him.  The baby, a boy, is fine and healthy and in the custody of state officials.  Police officers followed a trail of blood from where the baby was found to the home of the mother’s sister.  The mother is a Mexican citizen, as are her family members.  On Wednesday she was charged, as an adult, with attempted murder.  The justification for this was that under Washington’s “Newborn Safety Act,” babies may be abandoned at fire stations and hospitals within 72 hours of their birth without the mothers facing prosecution.  We all know, of course, that this Mexican girl, here for the past three months on a VISA, must have known all about this law, even though she speaks no English and authorities acknowledge funds have not been available to make information about the law available to Washington state citizens, let alone those new to the state.  And then, not only is abortion criminalized in Mexico sexual activity among young people “beyond puberty” is also criminalized.  While abortion is technically legal in the case of rape, according to this Human Rights Watch report, published last March, “Mexican officials actively prevent rape victims from gaining access to legal and safe abortion, and they fail to punish rape and sexual violence inside and outside the family.”  My guess is, this was a young girl in trouble, unable to get an abortion, possibly in danger of criminal prosecution for having had sex in the first place, who fled to her sister’s house here in Washington.  Terrified, she gave birth and fled, maybe believing a neighbor would find her baby, possibly intending to call police anonymously to let them know the baby was there.  Instead she was jailed and charged, as an adult, with attempted murder.

This, of course, is on the heels of the recent arrest of a mother here for “kidnapping” her own baby from a hospital, and her subsequent loss of custody of her child to the state, and why?  Because the mother and the child’s doctor disagreed over the child’s treatment!  She was a natural mothering-type mom, breastfed, cloth diapers, organic baby foods.  An Amber Alert was issued to catch her and she was jailed on $500,000 bond.

The charming fellow above is a member of “Operation Save America,” which is this week attempting to close down the Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the only place in Mississippi where women and girls can obtain abortions.  Not only is this group (the former “Operation Rescue”)  protesting abortion, over the course of the ongoing demonstration, they have burned the Koran and a gay/lesbian rights flag as well.  Mississippi provides “abstinence education” instead of sex education in schools, and none of the anti-choice groups involved in this demonstration endorse the use of birth control.  If they are successful in closing down this clinic, they are one step closer to the theonomic nation they are striving for in which women enjoy roughly the same level of freedom and autonomy as is available to them in other nations led by fundamentalist regimes.

The photo at the top of this article is of a woman prison inmate who was shackled throughout her labor and delivery, though she begged to have her legs unshackled.  According to this New York Time article, this is a common practice and only two states forbid it.  I think it’s a metaphor for what this nation is doing to women and girls just in general:  we are being silenced, shackled, forced to bear and care for babies no matter what our choices might be in the matter, forced to bow to, and submit to, the woman-hating gods of the male imagination.




One thought on “The Ongoing War on Women

  1. Just another ugly facet, in the control and systematic trashing of the female. I worked as a registered Nurse on gynae’ for one year and assisted in many abortions, most of which are actually performed under 14 weeks. The latest termination I witnessed was 16 weeks, and that was on a 15 yo who was terrified to tell her parents, and her boyfriend had abandoned her. I had absolutely NO problem assisting in these procedures, because they were NONE of my business. My job was to the support the woman in what is AlWAYS a traumatic and difficult time.

    Posted by LB | July 20, 2006, 7:00 pm

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