WARNING: I write in a hyperbolic style. Please take that into account when reading and understand that when I leap to what appear to patently ridiculous conclusions, my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek.
I heard the news yesterday of New Mexico lawmaker Cathrynn Brown introducing a bill that would make impregnated victims of rape or incest guilty of “tampering or destroying evidence” if they sought abortion. It took me awhile to wrap my head around the implications of this, but I woke up about midnight with my brain running in circles, screaming, “Hail Mary Assumption! Hail Mary Assumption!”
The Hail Mary Assumption is an unspoken meme in our culture, and other patriarchal ones. Sherri S. Tepper (eco-feminist sci-fi & fantasy author) crystallized the concept in her book, “Gibbon’s Decline and Fall”, this way, “…the assumption that all women are equipped with a stong, overriding maternal instinct; that all babies arouse this maternal instinct; and that any woman who does not respond maternally is a rotten person who must be guilty as sin…”
There are plenty of other ways to gather the DNA evidence for a rape conviction, as my research on the web just today has shown me. Apparently fetal DNA circulates in the mother’s blood, which makes sense, but that I, as a former OB nurse, did not consider. Then there is the rape kit, if it is done, or tested. Some states have huge backlogs that may or may not ever be tested. The fact remains that requiring a woman to carry a pregnancy to term since she is incubating “State’s Evidence” is not only not necessary, it is asinine and potentially harmful. Which starts my brain running in circles and screaming "Hail Mary Assumption" again.
The New Mexico bill is really nothing other than another attempt to control women’s bodies and lives under guise of the needs of the state. Looking at it clearly, it is a 9-month waiting period for an abortion. And, like any waiting period, forced ultrasound, visit to a crisis pregnancy center, state-mandated script, screaming protester, etc. is just another attempt to get the Hail Mary meme to work its magic and make a woman change her mind about terminating her pregnancy.
So, should this law go into effect, we logically have all these innocent little babies out there who are products of rape. It is not the fault of the child for how they were conceived, but if their mothers look at them as a reminder of that trauma over and over again, what kind of life will they have? Some women can overcome such rape trauma and some can’t, but that mileage varies widely. A woman’s individual decision remains HER choice, by LAW, and she deserves to make that decision in a supportive, respectful environment, not one ridden with guilt and coercion.
The bone-chilling idea of Cathrynn Brown’s bill becoming law led me to think about the 31 states that have no restrictions on rapists seeking custody or visitation of the children created. I did try to find a comprehensive list of these States, but could only find the original 28 October 2012 Soraya Chemaly article on Alternet. It also has has numerous links as support, including the original Georgetown Law Journal article.
Next I combined the concept of women being forced to carry pregnancies from rape to term with the idea of a rapist seeking custody of the resulting child and thought maybe we should just go full-goose-Biblical and just make women marry the men who rape them. Seems like what the religious right really wants: to get loose, unruly women back under the firm hand of men.
Don’t we all know that women will be fine and fulfilled once the motherhood instinct kicks in, since all women want & need is to be a Holy Vessel. Just ask those fleeing the Quiverfull movement!
(I think I just choked on my own bile a bit there.)
UPDATE: I had misspelled her name, fixed. Also this interesting article from Salon.