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My son is in seventh grade. When I picked him up from school yesterday, he was reading a book for Book Club, titled "Unwind," by Neal Schusterman. I idly glanced at the blurb, and asked him if I could read it.

The book is set in a future after "The Heartland War," which was a civil war over reproductive choice. The "Life Army" raged against the "Choice Brigade." The net result was "The Bill of Life," which declared that life began at conception. EVERY baby had to be born. But parents had three options: "Storking," which was to leave the newborn baby on a doorstep and run away, place them in a State Home, or to "unwind" the children after age 13.

To get around the Bill of Life, the parents of unwanted children could sign an "unwind order," which meant that the children would be sent to a "harvest clinic." At the clinic, every part of their body would be harvested, to be used as transplants. So they continued to "live," but in "a divided state."

The story follows three main characters: Connor, Risa, and Lev. Connor accidentally discovers the unwind order after finding plane tickets to the Bahamas for three--not all four--members of his family. Risa was a ward of the State, which had to periodically winnow the population of the Homes. Lev is a "tithe," a tenth child promised to God for harvesting. He was raised from birth to be unwound. Their lives intersect and weave quite a tale, which I won't spoil in case anyone wants to read the book. But I must blather below the fold.

In this terrible future, there was no need for diseases to be cured. Any ill was corrected by a transplant from an "unwound" teenager. There's a story about a truck driver with an arm that can do magic tricks. He explains that it's "muscle memory," and that he often wonders about the kid whose arm it once was.

At one point, several teens discuss the existence of the soul. One says that he thinks that babies get a soul only when they're wanted and loved. That hit me particularly hard. I believe that every baby should be both wanted and loved. This book, fiction though it is, shows a world in which forced-birth has far-reaching consequences.

If the child scheduled to be unwound somehow escaped and made it to age 18, he or she was "safe," as a legal adult. The only other way to temporarily avoid it, for girls, was to become pregnant. That put off their unwinding for the duration of the pregnancy.

I read the book in one sitting last night, and then I had frightening dreams. The push for forced birth in this country is getting out of hand. The draconian and obscene laws passed by Republicans in North Dakota and Arkansas are a horrible foreshadowing of the futures of both women and unwanted children. There is no plan for these unwanted children, except perhaps private prisons. States used to have orphanages. But then along came the Pill, and far, far fewer unwanted children.

And yet, Republicans and religious wackos are now ranting against birth control, claiming that "the Pill kills,"  and that "your uterus is full of tiny baby corpses." And whining and howling against sex ed, event though "Abstinence Ed" has been proven NOT to work. Which is probably WHY the GOP keeps pushing it. More teen mothers kept out of college and the workforce! Yay! Forced-birthers don't give a flying fuck about the children once they're born. Republicans have and are still forcing cuts to services that HELP women and the babies they keep, whether wanted or not.

I have to wonder if the author has a truly fertile imagination, or if he knows something that we don't. The Republican population, as a whole, is aging. Imagine if they COULD have aging, unhealthy body parts replaced by young, healthy ones. That thought is really too awful. But...if this trend towards forced-birth laws continues, something has to be done about all the unwanted children...

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (10+ / 0-)

    "...Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.” —Newt Gingrich in 1995

    by BadKitties on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 09:45:08 AM PDT

  •  In Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan adventures, a (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BadKitties, Cassandra Waites, ColoTim

    major villain is the culture on Jackson's Whole. On that world you can have a clone raised to puberty, then your brain transplanted into its body. Somebody always dies....usually the personality of the clone. One of the Vorkosigans is determined to wipe out this horrible business.

    Pretty good reading, even if unfinished (IMO) as long as Jackson's Whole still exists.

    LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

    by BlackSheep1 on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 09:55:29 AM PDT

    •  I'll have to look for it :) (5+ / 0-)

      My son might like it, too. I really want to commend the teacher that gave the Book Club this book. It's pretty bold. Could open a lot of interesting discussions.

      "...Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.” —Newt Gingrich in 1995

      by BadKitties on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 10:00:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The Vorkosigan Saga covers, so far, about 40 (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BadKitties, karmsy, chimene

        years -- from the meeting of the main hero's parents, to his father's passing, plus a little over another year. The character who grows up to be the financial specialist is the one most likely to overcome the cloning industry, I fear.

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Van Cliburn, Ike, Ann Richards, Barbara Jordan, Molly Ivins, Sully Sullenburger, Drew Brees: Texas is NO Bush League!

        by BlackSheep1 on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 10:03:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I've read the earlier books (4+ / 0-)

          Love Miles -- someone who society would normally throw away as "defective" uses his wits instead of a strong body to succeed. I need to re-read those one of these days.

          I might have to get Unwind for Mr. Scribe -- he's been looking for something to follow up The Hunger Games and this might be right up his alley.

          There's only one rule that I know of, babies -- goddammit, you've got to be kind. -- Kurt Vonnegut

          by Cali Scribe on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 10:14:20 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It's a creepy, creepy topic. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BadKitties, SilentBrook, ColoTim

    You are dealing with a cohort of aging, angry white men, one that needs to win. It's losing, humiliatingly, on marriage equality and lbgt rights, to name a couple. So it's stepped up its war on women, taking advantage of the moribund state of organized feminism in recent decades, to wage war reproductive freedom.

    They say progress happens one funeral at a time.

    We just have to outlast this paroxysm. I have every hope we will. But I hope too many women don't have to die first.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 10:19:48 AM PDT

    •  They suck at math... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      karmsy, SilentBrook, ColoTim

      Women made up 53% of the electorate in 2012. But GOP women are, sadly, brainwashed. HOW??? I didn't get the memo, probably because I was out canvassing for OFA. But I read their nonsense in the Denver Post, and had quite an LTE battle with one nutjob in Parker.

      I convinced four female GOP friends to vote for the President. It wasn't easy. A fifth claimed that she was pro-choice, but "had" to vote for Romney because her husband makes $1m a year. Smh.

      "...Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.” —Newt Gingrich in 1995

      by BadKitties on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 12:35:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bring that friend on Saturday (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Let her meet some people who will encourage her to be herself rather than her husband's second vote.

        •  She's in Fiji until Monday. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          karmsy, ColoTim

          They went for two weeks.

          If she could make it, I think she'd be uncomfortable. She's a new friend that I made through the new girlfriend of an old friend, but during the election we had quite a few passionate discussions.

          I think that she thinks being a Republican confers social status. Hard to work with that.

          "...Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.” —Newt Gingrich in 1995

          by BadKitties on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 04:14:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  there was a similar movie- (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    truly disturbing. And kudos to your child's teacher, and you.

    Anyone who scoffs at happiness needs to take their soul back to the factory and demand a better one. -driftglass

    by postmodernista on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 10:45:26 AM PDT

    •  Link broken (n/t) (0+ / 0-)

      Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað

      by milkbone on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 11:11:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Like the move "Never Let Me Go" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      Very similar.

      Never Let Me Go

    •  I was thinking... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      that no one at any of these "Christian" voucher schools in my county would ever suggest that the children read it. The tithing might hit too close to home, plus they lie and say they're all about saving babies. Here's what could happen when all the babies are "saved."

      "...Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.” —Newt Gingrich in 1995

      by BadKitties on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 12:31:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That plus the concept that the pastor character (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        could publicly support what was going on while not only disagreeing but having moral reservations to the system.

        It's not good in fundamentalist eyes to let the teenagers know that the Men Of God might be lying to them just to keep their positions.

        Prayers and best wishes to those in Japan.

        by Cassandra Waites on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 01:26:38 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No. Lev was quite shocked. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Cassandra Waites

          It's so important to teach children to think for themselves and QUESTION. My son declared that he is an agnostic and therefore didn't have to go to Church on Easter Sunday. I said, yes, he did because we were going as a family, and then to brunch, so tough noogies. He didn't have to go on Good Friday.

          Today my daughter announced that she had two religions: Episcopalian, plus one she invented, which is "all about being kind to animals and respecting Nature." She informed me that she'd be outside a lot, to be around animals and Nature. She might have the makings of a good Pagan or Wiccan when she's older :)

          "...Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.” —Newt Gingrich in 1995

          by BadKitties on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 04:21:50 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  You should read the second book in the series (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eyesbright, BadKitties, ColoTim, chimene

    as it explains the real reason the unwind compromise was accepted so easily and why the Heartland War was so devastating.  Hint:  A technology which allows anyone to become a serious threat and is nearly undetectable until it is too late.

    You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

    by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 11:32:27 AM PDT

    •  Oooh...I didn't know that there was a second book. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Throw The Bums Out, ColoTim

      Thank you :)

      There is a comment in "Unwind" that says that "unwinding" was originally a joke, then it gained momentum.

      "...Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.” —Newt Gingrich in 1995

      by BadKitties on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 12:27:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  The Clappers? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Throw The Bums Out, ColoTim

      "...Males are biologically driven to go out and hunt giraffes.” —Newt Gingrich in 1995

      by BadKitties on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 12:35:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, the development of Clapper technology and (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BadKitties, ColoTim

        it's use by teenagers after they kept getting gunned down for protesting the Heartland War is what actually caused the Unwind system to be quickly agreed to.  Not to mention just how devastating a technology that lets anyone becomes a suicide bomber with nothing more than a few IV infusions would be.  Imagine if anyone walking into a Planned Parenthood clinic could be an undetectable suicide bomber and could go off just by clapping their hands hard.  How would you defend against such a thing?

        The actual goal of the Unwind Accords (and why it was quickly approved by both sides) was to eliminate any disobedient or unruly kids before the could become Clappers at any cost.

        You have watched Faux News, now lose 2d10 SAN.

        by Throw The Bums Out on Thu Apr 04, 2013 at 12:45:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Republicans want women's babies, period (0+ / 0-)

    There is nothing mystical about this.  There is probably (I have to be objective) no plan to organ-harvest.  If they wanted to do that they could just pass laws making it mandatory to harvest organs from as many recently-dead as possible rather than let the bereaved family choose.

    They want our newborns.  That's what they want.  That's why they're against abortion and also against social services for single mothers.

    Though I'm tired of the drumbeat that every unplanned pregnancy is an unwanted pregnancy.  MOST pregnancies are unplanned in the strictest sense of the word.  MOST of us don't get to make babies exactly when we want to make them.  Babies come in their own time.

    Some women seek contraception and abortion because society has told them they are not supposed to want a baby at that particular point in their lives.  No one ever asks them whether they feel conflicted about that.  Even if they were asked they might not give a truthful answer.  Living under constant duress with the whole of society second-guessing your every choice in life will do that to you.  You get tired of arguing about it.  You go with the flow.

    We have enough of the right wing telling us we're not supposed to want to procreate unless we're perfect.  We don't need that from the Left as well.  It's bad enough that I get the sense some liberal men are only pro-choice because it gets them out of child support.

    I'm pro-choice, but duress takes the free choice out of any decision we make.  Having a metaphorical or actual gun to your head makes you a liar, at least to yourself if not to everyone around you too.

    But the fact is that the demand for healthy white newborns far outstrips the supply.  People still believe the mythology that adoption is reproduction, that adoption cures infertility, that some families are "good" and others are "bad" even when no abuse or neglect is taking or would take place, and that "sex should have consequences."  Not enough people on either side of the political aisle are interested in natural-family preservation.  Too many paychecks are riding on tearing families apart.

    Even LGBT couples are getting into the fun now, at pregnant women's expense.

    Meanwhile, over 100,000 children who have been permanently severed from their parents languish in foster care waiting for homes because some idiot spread the myth that "all their needs are met."

    I want to live in America, not the Republic of Gilead.

    And that goes for people who are OK with surrogacy and egg "donation", too.  We're full human beings, not beasts of reproductive burden.

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