Of all the cruel and Byzantine ways that the law has contrived to interfere in women’s born right to own and manage their reproduction, this surely takes the cake. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t doesn’t even begin to cover it. On paper, objectifying the foetus as evidence runs somewhat contrary to the Pro-life definition of it as a fully-human being; but the implications in real life are exactly the same: don’t abort! The mother is still effectively owned and subject to the rule of patriachy. The likely psychological trauma of having to carry a baby to term and the fact of her/his existence will serve as a lifetime reminder of the initial violation, whether the mother decides to bring up the kid or not. And the science underpinning the law is flawed in any case. As a commentator on the thread (The Reality Dog) rightly observes:
‘This is shockingly stupid. Just using her own logic, why would you need to force the woman to carry the baby to term in order to get evidence? Once the abortion was performed, you would easily be able to get DNA from the fetus to prove paternity to the rapist and likely get that person charged and behind bars even faster. Once again, anti-abortion legislators are grasping at straws…’
Coincidentally – or perhaps not – this law would erect an additional psychological barrier against victims reporting the offense against them.
And this has implications for the kid, too. Growing up knowing that your life came about as the product of rape must, I imagine, have profound implications, and bear none-too-positively on one’s self-esteem and future relationship prospects. There’s an alternative, of course: not knowing the intimate details of one’s conception and parenthood; or the fate of one’s surrendered offspring – but as an adoptee I can vouch that that has its implications, too; both for the child and the parents, biological and adoptive. The likely internal conflict propogated by this proposal parallels that experienced by the incested child. As Suzanne Moore wrote in a perceptive Guardian piece in response to the Savile scandal:
‘I know people right now are having to make a decision to remove a child from a family after a series of disclosures about the white stuff that came out of “Daddy’s willy” when they were having their special time. The last thing this child wants is for her Daddy to be taken away.’
Which is to say, knowing that your parent(s) is/are bad people doesn’t necessarily diminish your need for a sense of ‘where you come from’. Even if that need is a product of patriarchal indoctrination, for the sake of our kids’ (and adults’) peace of mind it must be addressed.
I doubt the lawmakers consider these, or have even given them pause for thought, and whilst I’d be more confortable believing naïveté was a factor in their proposal, my inclination is that it’s politicking pure and simple: a legal statement of intent that promotes that reinforces the patriarchal agenda; specifically:
- Reproduction is a legitimate end in itself, howsoever brought about, and rape is a legitimate means of reproduction,
- A woman’s body is an extension of the state and subject to state control,
- It is the duty and responsibility of the state to encourage, regulate and manage reproduction, by any means.
This bill bodes badly in a world that many care to appellate ‘post-feminist’: its basis is spurious science and its implicit cruelty to the forcibly-impregnated and their offspring are, individually, reason enough to contest its legitimacy on humane grounds. Taken together they embody a legal and moral abomination; another in a history of many.