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Corporations Are People; Women Not So Much

Mississippi’s measure seeking to grant a fertilized egg the status of “person” was defeated at the ballot box last week. Unfortunately, personhood advocates still plan to put the matter up for vote in five more states. Perhaps the next step should be granting women personhood.

Because as it is, personhood advocates feel that fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses should have more rights than women.

If a fetus threatens its mother’s health and she aborts (in self-defense) to save her life, she should be called “murderer”? But if the fetus is linked to her death, that’s okay? Why not prosecute fetuses, too?

Factories have excluded women from earning a living so that no harm will come to an embryo. But if a woman starves from lack of income, that’s all right?

And why are women prosecuted for poor nutritional choices if pregnancy ends in stillbirth, yet when actual women lack proper nourishment, many of the personhood advocates back cutting nutritional assistance?

Why must a woman be forced to undergo surgery for the sake of her fetus, and risk prosecution if she doesn’t, yet if she can’t afford surgery to save her own life, well, too bad?

When a fetus, embryo or a fertilized egg’s rights conflict with a woman’s, why does she lose?

A pal of mine who goes by the name, lineatus, recommended that women regain control by incorporating their uteruses. The Supreme Court has declared that corporations are people. Why not women?

Plus, “It would be easier to get insurance,” lineatus continued. “You could get a nice group rate for your corporation, rather than the extortionate individual plan.”

“True,” I interjected, “And if women were people like corporations, and were thought to require the same level of freedom that extreme right-wingers think markets do, then women could finally be free.”

If corporations are people, and if some are struggling to make fertilized eggs people, shouldn’t women be recognized as people, too?

Crossposted @ Daily Kos and republished by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism and Abortion

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Markets Must Be Free; Women Must Be Constrained

Right wingers adamantly proclaim that free markets are necessary for freedom. So why do so many of these liberty lovers insist that women be constrained?

The right has been relentlessly pushing laws that limit women’s autonomy. The most extreme measure is on the November ballot in Mississippi. There, voters may amend the state constitution to define a “person” as “every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.”

If this law passes, a woman would not be able to get an abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or if her life were in danger. Miscarriage could become a police investigation. And at least some (possibly all) forms of contraception would become illegal.

Similar measures are being planned for future elections in Florida, Montana, Ohio and at least five other states.

Slate’s XX Factor reports on the consequences of such a law being passed in Mexico:

The main result has been a doubling down in the criminalization of women who have abortions, or even miscarriages… The penalties for a woman who has an abortion range from six months to four years.

XX Factor goes on to report that one woman got a 23 year sentence for what she says was a miscarriage. Now consider that about one in five pregnancies ends in miscarriage. (In the U.S. today women are prosecuted for stillbirths, even when prosecutors lack direct evidence linking poor health choices to the stillbirth.)

Personhood activist, Ed Hanks, says society isn’t comfortable yet with punishing women and their doctors for abortions, “because abortion has been ‘normalized.’” He hopefully adds, “As the Personhood message penetrates, then society will understand why women need to be punished just as surely as they understand why there can be no exceptions for rape/incest.”

When women aren’t being limited by penitentiary walls – or by their own deaths – another prison arises when contraception is banned – a goal pushed by plenty of conservatives. Some abusive men even destroy contraception hoping to trap wives or girlfriends into dependency by their need to care for children.

Last summer I wrote of despots who controlled women’s reproductive rights. But it bears repeating:

The 20th century’s most loathsome regimes focused on controlling women’s reproduction. The Nazis closed family planning centers and outlawed abortion, eventually making it a capital offense, says Steven Conn, Associate Professor of History at Ohio State. Stalin banned abortion. Ceausescu outlawed contraception and made miscarriage subject to criminal investigation. Today China forces abortion and sterilization. Conn observes:

The day after the evil Ceausescu had been executed, the National Salvation Front issued two decrees; it lifted the ban on the private ownership of typewriters, and it repealed the laws that policed pregnant women.

America’s right-wing extremists look eerily similar to these despots, lending an ironic twist to their claim of being all about freedom through free markets.

Markets must be free. But women must be controlled?

Reposted on Daily Kos November 7, 2011
Also republished in Daily Kos by Feminism, Pro-Feminism, Womanism: Feminist Issues, Ideas, & Activism, Pro Choice, and Community Spotlight.

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