Saturday, April 21, 2007

SCOTUS, You Know Me Better Than I Know Myself

Here's to the 5 old guys who voted yay!
Jen from Feministing read an interesting section of the Opinion of the Court regarding the recent ruling upholding the partial birth abortion ban.

"While we have no reliable data to measure the phenomenon, it seems unexceptional that to conclude some women come to regret to abort the infant life they once created and sustained . . . . The State has an interest in ensuring so grave a choice is well informed. It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed her doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast-growing brain of her unborn child, a child assuming the human form."

Let's, for now, ignore the errors; the use of the words "infant" and "unborn child" in the place of the medically accurate term of "fetus;" the assumption that doctors who perform abortions are so untrustworthy that they do not tell their patients the procedures, risks, and outcomes of the operations they're about to perform; the implication that women get pregnant by themselves; and the contradiction that while a fetus is a "child," it is only "assuming the human form."

I want to speak about the pervasive notion that women cannot handle their own decisions. That women are too "emotional" (you know, every emotion except anger, because anger is manly, and men don't show emotion, remember?) to deal with regret. That women have to be protected from, and made ignorant by, anything that will make us (rightfully) resentful..

The Opinion of the Court reminded me of something that former Democratic Senator of Missouri George G. Vest once said about women in politics:

"I pity the man who can consider any question affecting the influence of woman with the cold, dry logic of business. What man can, without aversion, turn from the blessed memory of that dear old grandmother, or the gentle words and caressing hand of that dear blessed mother gone to the unknown world, to face in its stead the idea of a female justice of the peace or township constable? For my part I want when I go to my home -- when I turn from the arena where man contends with man for what we call the prizes of this paltry world -- I want to go back, not to be received in the masculine embrace of some female ward politician, but to the earnest, loving look and touch of a true woman. I want to go back to the jurisdiction of the wife, the mother; and instead of a lecture upon finance or the tariff, or upon the construction of the Constitution, I want those blessed, loving details of domestic life and domestic love.

. . . I speak now respecting women as a sex. I believe that they are better than men, but I do not believe they are adapted to the political work of this world. I do not believe that the Great Intelligence ever intended them to invade the sphere of work given to men, tearing down and destroying all the best influences for which God has intended them.

. . . Women are essentially emotional. It is no disparagement to them they are so. It is no more insulting to say that women are emotional than to say that they are delicately constructed physically and unfitted to become soldiers or workmen under the sterner, harder pursuits of life.

What we want in this country is to avoid emotional suffrage, and what we need is to put more logic into public affairs and less feeling. There are spheres in which feeling should be paramount. There are kingdoms in which the heart should reign supreme. That kingdom belongs to woman. The realm of sentiment, the realm of love, the realm of the gentler and the holier and kindlier attributes that make the name of wife, mother, and sister next to that of God himself.

I would not, and I say it deliberately, degrade woman by giving her the right of suffrage. I mean the word in its full signification, because I believe that woman as she is to-day, the queen of the home and of hearts, is above the political collisions of this world, and should always be kept above them . . . . It would take her down from that pedestal where she is to-day, influencing as a mother the minds of her offspring, influencing her gentle and kindly caress the action of her husband toward the good and pure."

Oh, Senator Vest. It seems like only January 25, 1887 that you said that.

Both the Opinion of the Court and the Vest speech are full of false sensitivity. While Vest claimed that emotion and passion have no place in politics, he delivered a rather lengthy speech to Congress to protect women from being thrown off of their moral pedestal. How sweet, right? Now, SCOTUS, in an attempt to protect emotional women from the emotional consequences of their emotional decisions, are chipping away at our reproductive rights. While our federal government chooses to preserve our right to get pregnant by mistake by making accurate sex education and contraception harder and harder to come by, now they are taking away our right to a procedure that is a matter of life or death to thousands of women a year. Thanks for looking out for us, 5 old guys who voted yay.

1 comment:

L said...

I'm always impressed by the bloggers who can calmly discuss such horrible injustices from the far right fundamentalists. What a medieval decision. ugh! They couldn't make it any clearer that we're just baby machines owned by the government.

this is why I stick to (lame) humor and fart jokes on my blog. Anything else will just make me cry