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Arizona Legislators Trying To Declare Pregnancy Two Weeks Prior To Conception


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Initial post: Apr 2, 2012 10:59:30 PM PDT
Yes, you read the title correctly. The assault on women continues, this time in Arizona.

The past few months, we've seen the nation wake up to many anti-choice assaults on women's basic right to control their fertility, especially with regards to imposing forced ultrasounds and numerous attacks on access to basic contraception. But one of the other favorite anti-choice approaches to maximizing the pain and suffering of women as punishment for sex has largely gone unnoticed by many outside of the pro-choice activist community: bans on abortions after 20 weeks. It's understandable that it's hard to whip people up about this particular situation. After all, abortions after 20 weeks are relatively rare. Only 1.5% of abortions occur after the 20th week, and the vast majority of those that do occur are done for medical reasons, or because legal and financial obstacles--like those put in place by lawmakers--caused a delay. While, if they knew their personal stories, most people would certainly sympathize with women in need of post-20 week abortions, a certain amount of reproductive rights fatigue is setting in. There's only so many hours in the day, and anti-choicers know if they just keep throwing restrictions on access at us, some will slip through the cracks.

But, as exhausting as it is, we need to pay attention to and resist post-20 week bans on abortion. That's because it's cruel on its surface, but also because legislators are using 20 week bans in order to smuggle in other items of more importance to them than simply making it harder for a slim minority of women seeking abortions to get them. The most obvious thing they're trying to do is set anti-science precedent. Since these bans are based on the false, unscientific claim that fetuses at 20 weeks can feel pain, if they're allowed to stand, it opens the door for more laws based on straight-up lies to be passed. These laws are also being used to challenge the requirement set out in Roe v Wade that a woman's health and life should trump that of the misogynist desire to keep her pregnant at all costs.

Legislators have had so much success smuggling in ulterior motives with 20-week bans that they're now looking for ways to expand the amount of hard right anti-choice nonsense they can attach to those bills. The most recent---and extreme---example is Arizona. There, lawmakers are writing a 20-week abortion ban that starts counting off at the first day of a woman's period. Yes, they're arguing that you're "pregnant" while you're actually getting your period. In fact, as Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones explains, they're really trying to steal as many weeks as possible away from women seeking abortion:

Most women ovulate about 14 or 15 days after their period starts, and women can usually get pregnant from sexual intercourse that occurred anywhere between five days before ovulation and a day after it. Arizona's law would start the clock at a woman's last period-which means, in practice, that the law prohibits abortion later than 18 weeks after a woman actually becomes pregnant.

That's bad in and of itself, but taking a step back and looking at the big picture makes this law look even more sinister. Medically speaking, pregnancy starts when a fertilized egg implants in the uterine lining. Anti-choicers have attempted to define it earlier with their failed attempts to pass "personhood" law that would define not just pregnancy, but "personhood" as beginning at conception. Now in Arizona, they're trying to argue that you're pregnant a couple of weeks before you even had the sex that resulted in your pregnancy.

Think about the implications down the road. If a woman is "pregnant" two weeks before she becomes pregnant, than any fertile woman---including those currently menstruating!---should really be considered pregnant. After all, we don't know the future. We don't know that any non-pregnant woman couldn't be pregnant two weeks from now, making her retroactively pregnant now. Considering that it's anti-choice nuts we're talking about, it's safe to assume that they'd simply prefer a situation where all women of reproductive age are considered to be pregnant, on the grounds that they could be two weeks from now. Better safe than sorry, especially if that mentality means you get to exert maximum control over the bodies of women of reproductive age.

Between personhood bills and the assault on access to contraception, it's becoming increasingly clear that anti-choicers aren't satisfied with simply trying to control the already-pregnant. Finding ways to define the not-pregnant as pregnant is a means of laying the groundwork for exerting this control. Imagine if Roe is overturned and states go into a true frenzy of stripping every imaginable right away from pregnant women. It wouldn't be limited to stripping the right to abortion, but also to any kind of behavior deemed "abortive," including holding certain kinds of jobs, eating certain foods, or taking certain medications. With this bill, then, you could not only restrict the rights of those who are actually pregnant, but extend the restrictions to all women of reproductive age on the grounds that they "could be pregnant in two weeks, i.e. in perpetuity" and would therefore be considered the same thing as being pregnant.

Already in some states, they're looking for ways to prosecute women who have stillbirths if they did something the prosecutor believes may have had an impact on the pregnancy, such as drug use. With the hoped-for overturn of Roe, we can expect these efforts to intensify, with prosecutions of miscarriages. Now with this Arizona bill, if a woman is deemed pregnant two weeks before she actually is, prosecutors could even have a chance to look at your choices when you weren't even pregnant---before you even had the sex that made you pregnant---and blame those choices for bad outcomes. They're creating, brick by brick, the legal basis on which to prosecute a woman who drinks some alcohol, becomes pregnant two weeks later, and miscarries, even though she didn't drink while pregnant. And you best believe that when feminists protest this, they'll just paint it as if we're more interested in protecting drunken sluts than "babies."

If you can be "pregnant" without being pregnant, that also creates legal complications around simple menstruation. After all, menstruation is usually seen as the opposite of being pregnant; women use menstruation to mark that they aren't pregnant. But under this bill, you could both be menstruating and "pregnant" by law. Should Roe be overturned and the state start looking to prosecute women for miscarriages they deem inappropriately prevented, what about women who are just getting their period? They're "pregnant" under the pregnant-prior-to-conception framework, aren't they? Are they miscarrying in the eyes of the law or are they just continuing their theoretical pregnancy? These kinds of ambiguities are exactly the sort of thing zealous misogynist law enforcement will be looking to exploit.

By Amanda Marcotte | Sourced from RH Reality Check

http://tinyurl.com/7o5ej6v

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2012 11:33:40 PM PDT
Bubba says:
Wow, just wow. The lengths Christians will go to prove their insanity is totally beyond belief.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2012 11:37:51 PM PDT
AxeGrrl says:
What the hell is going ON down there* with you guys?

* 'down there' as in the United States

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 2, 2012 11:48:27 PM PDT
lwd says:
AxeGrrl -

We're all going quietly (and some not so quietly) insane, which is a lot less entertaining than you might imagine. It used to be called "silly season", now it's just "scary season".

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 12:05:25 AM PDT
Absolutely true! It just takes your breath away, doesn't it? Couple this with the recent Alabama law granting the same rights to eggs, fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses as for autonomous humans and you have a bad Margaret Atwood novel. Did you notice what was conspicuously absent from that list? Yes, the ultimate little wrigglers themselves! Can anyone not imagine a time when a woman's period will become illegal because that would mean that she wasted a human life? I can, if this trend isn't kicked to the curb ASAP.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 12:16:44 AM PDT
<rant> What happened is the tea party. And that happened because there is a black man with a foreign-sounding name in the White House. Obama's election drove the far right, never a source for a sanity check, right over the edge. Fox began beating the drum for the tea party, Orly Taitz (the noted attorney/dentist/realtor) began suing everyone and anyone, saying that BO is a native of Kenya, doesn't have an American birth certificate, etc., etc.. Then the tea party got active and elected some <sarcasm> real brain trusts </sarcasm> in key states like MA and WI and got the party started. I've never seen anything like it. I don't remember a time when having a double X set was under attack. My personal theory, completely unsupported with facts, is that the radically far right wants to turn the calendar back to the early 19th century, wiping out women's suffrage, child labor laws, and the middle class. The really weird thing is that the GOP propaganda machine has convinced a sizable chunk of the working class to vote against its own best interests and elect people who will impoverish them and make the big business tycoons and fat cats even fatter and tycoonier. Evidence of this is seen in how often the tea party protests against the healthcare reform bill, as if those insurance magnates don't have enough of our money yet. </rant>

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 12:39:55 AM PDT
lwd says:
Rachel - In reference to the "little wrigglers", you might find this interesting...

http://www.sodahead.com/united-states/thou-shalt-not-spill-thy-seed-anti-masturbation-amendment-added-to-anti-abortion-bill/question-2510493/?page=2

Didn't pass. Wonder why?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 12:45:00 AM PDT
That's perfect! I liked the comment by Ron: "Having men decide what is best for women is like having a dog decide what is best for a cat."

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 1:37:27 AM PDT
Bubba says:
That the GOP is able to get the working class to ENTHUSIASTICALLY vote against its own best interests is beyond belief for me.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 1:38:49 AM PDT
lwd says:
Ah, but we cats are more independent, clever, and can never be leashed. (Unfortunately, we have also never learned to hunt in rabid packs, which could be our downfall unless we get our act together.)

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 1:45:15 AM PDT
lwd says:
Bubba

Very true, Whatever their current strategy is, it's beyond me. I don't believe that staunchly Republican women will suddenly vote Dem, but I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't vote at all or left a lot of blank spaces on the ballot.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 1:56:14 AM PDT
B. Josephson says:
Well, I would say this is impossible, but legislators have put some awfully strange laws on the books.

Best Wishes,
Shaamba Kaambwaat

Posted on Apr 3, 2012 2:42:05 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2012 5:47:42 AM PDT
Wow. Things that make one want to hurl everything eaten since 1955! Suddenly I'm feeling extremely lucky to A) never have lived anywhere near Arizona, B) be through menopause, C) have been aware for a very long time that anyone even wanting to be a politician should never ever, under any circumstances, ever be allowed anywhere near positions of power.

I'd known in my teens that I would choose not to have children for a variety of reasons, including health issues. In my 30's I was denied the choice to have my tubes tied. The reason? In spite of being a fairly intelligent, sane adult, I was apparently not capable of making informed & wise decisions for myself...and... I.. ..(ready for this one?) ...

I'd...n e v e r...h a d...a n y...c h i l d r e n...&..."m i g h t"...c h a n g e...m y...m i n d. (still gagging? Me too.)

Disregard my choice, inherited health issues, history of early menopause in my family, my lack of financial stability at that point, lack of marriage, failure to have even laid eyes on the "right guy" at that point, plus, I had just gotten free of 'the boyfriend from hell' ...but I "might change my mind"...? ( nope, never did)

While it's no longer an issue for me, it's horrifying that every doctor I ever asked gave me the same answer even in view of my reasons stated above. I shouldn't be surprised by the contents of the first post of this topic, however it is among some most frightening things I've ever read.
If it should, GOD PLEASE FORBID, by some insanity or unholy posession, become law, & women are considered pregnant before actual conception, I do hope those anti-choicers & village idiots--I--mean--politicians are prepared to provide proof of embryos present in each woman they accuse. Short of that, I think I'd like another planet to live on, please, oh please?

May enlightenment prevail.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 2:56:41 AM PDT
lwd says:
Saoirse - "In spite of being a fairly intelligent, sane adult, I was apparently not capable of making informed & wise decisions for myself...and... I.. ..(ready for this one?) ..."

I hear ya. In 1973 I had to get my husband's signed permission slip before I could get a prescription for birth control pills even though we'd already had the two kids we had agreed upon (not kidding). That permission slip was checked every time I had to get a refill. Do women really want to go back to those "good old days"? For that matter, do men?

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 5:42:24 AM PDT
lwd, that's ghastly! It wasn't too long after '73 that my doctor actually put me on birth control for the sole purpose of getting a grip on endometriosis. Go figure. Wonder what might have happened if you & I had gone in at the same time, but swapped stories. You may not have needed a permission slip to get 'treatment for endometriosis' & I may have been allowed to have my tubes tied after 'having two kids' (unless I had to cough up a husband as well..)
Re: going back to the 'good old days,' I'll pass. I never did react well people using their positions of authority to take power trips at my expense...
Kind blessings to you :o)

may enlightenment prevail

Posted on Apr 3, 2012 6:30:57 AM PDT
So what if a woman still ovulates, but can't concieve because other necessary parts are missing? Is she having an "abortion" every month according to their demented logic? If that's the case, I should have been put in prison when I was 29 years old and diagnosed with cancer.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 1:46:51 PM PDT
lwd says:
Saoirse -

What was really ghastly, is that I never actually recognized I was being patronized by the system until that incident. (I had single friends who had no trouble getting on 'the pill', but apparently once you got married, you went back to child status.)

In '75, when I had to get a hysterectomy (medical, I would have died without it), my husband had to sign yet another 'permission slip' stating that he was fully aware that I was losing my reproductive abilities. (Had it not been a medical emergency, we would have had to have 2 weeks of 'counseling'.) On that occasion, the doctor asked him for written permission out of my hearing. I didn't get seriously riled until I heard about it when my husband told me weeks later - after the surgery. That time my husband was very seriously ticked off and ready to march right along side me for women's rights. Until then, he had been pretty much ambivalent about the "feminist movement". I might have understood if the hospital had been a Catholic medical center (not agreed with, but I would have understood their reservations), but it wasn't.

Maybe this new controversy is needed to get everyone back on track and looking at the present and future, not the past.

May enlightenment not only prevail, but come back.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 2:07:21 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2012 2:08:59 PM PDT
lwd says:
Glad to be Gaelic -

Can you imagine the size of the prisons needed? We might as well slice the country in half - one side men, the other women, with a barbed wire fence in the middle.

Edit - added: I'd vote for the West coast side of the fence, but since we would have committed a felony by the new laws, we wouldn't be able to vote.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 2:15:59 PM PDT
Hmm, the West does have better scenery in many areas......... ;-}
Reminds me of a joke I heard once - "What would a world without men be like? A lot of fat, happy women and no wars!"

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 2:17:55 PM PDT
At the risk of invoking Godwin's Law on myself, here is a possibility: "If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State." -- Joseph Goebbels

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 2:18:37 PM PDT
This is true: independence does have its drawbacks!

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 2:29:27 PM PDT
Saoirse Smith: however it is among some most frightening things I've ever read.

I agree, which is why I posted it. Even if it gets shot down, the fact is that they are trying in incremental steps to circumscribe a woman's fundamental right to control her own body.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 2:49:28 PM PDT
lwd says:
Glad to be Gaelic -

Can my husband come along, too? After all, he did sign those permission slips, which would make him just as guilty (and, after 43 years, I'm still rather fond of him).

Plus, he'd get the joke!

Posted on Apr 3, 2012 4:04:16 PM PDT
After the Georgia law, I made the silly mistake of thinking that the gopers couldn't get much weirder.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 3, 2012 4:21:07 PM PDT
lwd says:
Mark -

I think we're all taken a bit aback. 'Weird' doesn't begin to explain what's happening.
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Discussion in:  Religion forum
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Initial post:  Apr 2, 2012
Latest post:  Apr 12, 2012

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