Under His Eye: Alabama’s War on Women

Under His Eye: Alabama’s War on Women

[From the NewsDesk] “New legislation has been passed which requires men to seek a license if they wish to ejaculate. The law is effective in parts of the United States immediately and men will be required to seek a new license each time, explaining what the so-called ‘innocent life force” will be used for. Licenses will only be granted if the semen – from now on known as innocent life force – will only be used in the lawful creation of new life. The legislation has been brought in to prevent unwanted pregnancy and eliminate the need for abortion.

If a man ejaculates without a license and disposes of the innocent life force he will be prosecuted for manslaughter. If another party is involved, they would be prosecuted for grievous bodily harm regardless of whether the sexual interaction is consensual or not. When asked why the issue of consent was not considered to make a difference, one Senator cited research that shows it isn’t possible for men to be raped, and if they find themselves in this situation, the onus is on them to ensure than no innocent life force is emitted.

Oral and manual masturbation, which have in the past been regarded as pleasures, are now outlawed. There was the possibility of historic prosecutions for those who disposed of innocent life force orally, but that was vetoed by the Senate, which is 90% female.

While the legislation only applies in six US States initially, it will be unilaterally applied across the entire country within the month.

Mexico – whose Government had said it will not be bringing in this legislation – has announced that it will be completing the wall along the entire border with the US to prevent sex tourism, and the influx of immigrants expected to flee these draconian laws.

The President of the United States has said this law makes the US a world leader in preventing unwanted pregnancy and eliminating abortion and it will be pushing via sanctions for it to become law globally by 2021.”

Last Tuesday, Alabama became the latest state to pass a near or total ban on abortion in the US; they joined North Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio, Georgia and Kentucky who have also enacted similar legislation. While globally, approximately 25% of the world’s population lives in countries with highly restrictive abortion laws, mostly in Latin America, Africa and Asia, abortion is seen as a progressive sign of western society, a free choice for women to be in control of their reproductive rights. However, as rightwing populism has increased over the last decade, a perhaps unsurprising erosion of women’s rights has made headlines, most recently the hugely restrictive legislation America has ever seen regarding abortion.

The ‘press statement’ above is of course, totally made up, an imagining of how a reproductive war would be enacted on men and quite frankly, it sounds preposterous, doesn’t it? It’s not so far from the dystopian feminism we are now used to reading from authors like Naomi Alderman and of course, Margaret Atwood. But that’s fiction, and this is a brutal reality no longer conjured up as an entertaining yet futuristic storyline. Why aren’t we more baffled and outraged by the possibility of the control being exercised on women to force them into unwanted pregnancies and births? How, in 2019, is this not being declared openly as a war on women?

Every day, just under 70,000 abortions are unsafely carried out and this is seen most in countries that exercise a ban on terminations. Women are forced to seek an end to unwanted pregnancies in secret and shame, via networks and back doors. The WHO reports an estimated cost of (US)$553 million as a result of treating women who suffer major complications as a result of these risky procedures and many women report disfigurement and disease, and some pay the ultimate price for freedom; death.

Twenty five, white, middle class and privileged republican men voted to ban abortion in Alabama. The vote resulted in the most restrictive law in the US, making abortion a crime at almost any point in pregnancy, the only exception being where there is a serious threat to the health of a woman. Twenty five, white, republican men voted to control women’s bodies, to force pregnancy to term, to force a woman to birth – including, most shockingly of all perhaps, those pregnancies resulting from rape or incest.

Some of those white, republican men have made their thoughts on rape quite clear: Clayton Williams (R-TX) said “Rape is kinda like the weather. If it’s inevitable, relax and enjoy it” and Todd Akin (R-MO) was quoted saying “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to shut that thing down.” (if only vagina dentata were a thing, eh Todd?) “Rape victims should make the best of a bad situation” said Rick Santorum (R-PA), and Richard Mourdock (R-IN) thoughtfully pondered the issue when he said “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that is something that God intended to happen.” Lawrence Lockman (R-ME), it’s safe to say, made his position clear when he said “If a woman has (the right to an abortion), why shouldn’t a man be free to use his superior strength to force himself on a woman? At least the rapist’s pursuit of sexual freedom doesn’t (in most cases) result in anyone’s death.” And while you are reeling from that, Jodie Laudenberg – YES, a fellow woman – showed her absolute ignorance when she said “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out.” Yes. You read that right. Sadly, this isn’t fake news. All of these quotes are true.

The reason I highlight the issue of this being white men voting against women is because when we are discussing abortion, privilege is an important factor. According to the Guttmacher Institute’s research, in 2014 49% of abortion patients lived below the federal poverty line and a further 75% poor or of low income.  12% of abortion patients were adolescents, and 62% of patients were of colour, hispanic or other ethnicities.

Imagine, for any moment (and I know many reading this won’t have to imagine because it has been your own reality), the fear of an unwanted pregnancy. The moment the test shows that extra line in the little window, and the floor drops beneath you as your knees buckle, heart pounding and blood rushing to your head. Then imagine that there is no way out from that feeling because, as you later find out during an examination and scan, the foetus – please, let’s use the correct terminology here, and not the emotional label of ‘baby’ as pro-lifers wish us to – is a mere 6 weeks old but old enough for there to be a flicker within the foetal pole, the very beginnings of a heartbeat but yet the ultimate sign that an abortion (a medical abortion at this stage, aka ‘taking a pill’), is now out of reach. That flicker on the screen has meant that you will have to carry this baby to term, protect it, grow a child that you had no intention of meeting, nurture your body to nourish it, and ultimately, go through the horrific pain of labour and birth and give life to this child.

The reality of how far this legislation extends is even more brutal.

Imagine now, that that child is conceived as a result of rape, or of incest. Imagine carrying that life, as innocent as it may be, but a direct, constant reminder of the most traumatic moment of your life, for nearly a whole year and then, at your most mentally vulnerable, giving birth and the additional trauma that would induce given the horror of how that baby came to be conceived. Imagine how your body might shut down as your mind flashes back to appalling abuse, creating unimaginable pain as that ‘innocent life’ emerges into the world. And then, imagine looking at that baby and perhaps recognising traits of the perpetrator. Imagine that. It’s unbearable to even think about, nevermind experience as thousands of women will now be forced to do.

If you are feeling uncomfortable now, you should. We all should. We should be sick to our stomachs that a law has been passed that controls a woman’s choice to this extent; that erodes autonomy over her body and future and can force a woman through unimaginable trauma as a result of a decision made over four hours of ‘debate’.

I have questions, too, for those passing these laws. Lots of them, so bear with me. What is the plan for a child born as a result of forced pregnancy? Where in this law is the provision for welfare, for benefits, for the protection of that ‘innocent life’ to be cared for, for the rest of their lives? Where is the system that will no doubt be under immense pressure to support children who are in need, born into poverty and vulnerable as a result of deprivation? The reality is that the ‘concern’ ends in the delivery room, when the twenty five, white, republican men will put their hands in the air and back away – not their problem, the mother needs to step up, the father has rights blah blah blah. We can hear it ringing in our ears. Life as a single parent is tough enough when a child is desired, loved and wanted. What of a child who is begrudged, a lifetime mistake? Where is the increased care provision for these children? Where is the additional investment in counselling and mental health support for mother and child? Where is the parenting support for women completely incapable of caring for this child? How do we deal with the societal taboo of a child born as a product of rape and incest?

And while we are still asking questions, how does the state propose to increase the penalty for the feckless fathers who leave a woman with incumbent child? How does it seek to force a man to provide for the life he has created, the innocent life? More, how about what happens to the – and I spit this, as I say it with such vitriol – fucking rapists? The absolute batshittery of this law is that a doctor who is convicted of performing abortion could be punished with a prison sentence of (up to) 99 years,  a sentence that far exceeds those for serious sexual offenders.

Women will always find a way to cease unwanted pregnancies. These bans don’t protect women or child; they endanger life. This isn’t pro-life, this is control of women, the subordination of women, and a reminder to us all that the patriarchy owns your uterus more than you. Blessed be that fruit, bitches.

As the Handmaid’s Tale returns to our screens next month, Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel couldn’t be closer to reality. When twenty five, white men, sit in counsel and vote to own and control a women’s womb, body and future in this way, how long until we see the launch of the first ‘Red Center’ to ensure women carry to term?

Under his fucking eye, indeed.

Creative reporting by Alison McGarragh-Murphy

Image credit

Kate Dyson

Kate is the Founder of The Motherload, the 'owner' of one husband, two daughters, two cats and one rabbit. She loves wine, loathes exercise and fervently believes in the power of women supporting women. Find me on instagram: @themotherloadhq

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