Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Poor Choice or a Kinsley Gaffe?

I was going to let this go, but sometimes, the blog-muses don't let you:

A pregnant woman is just a "host" that should not have the right to end her pregnancy, Virginia State Sen. Steve Martin (R) wrote in a Facebook rant defending his anti-abortion views. 
Martin, the former chairman of the Senate Education and Health Committee, wrote a lengthy post about his opinions on women's bodies on his Facebook wall last week in response to a critical Valentine's Day card he received from reproductive rights advocates. 
"I don't expect to be in the room or will I do anything to prevent you from obtaining a contraceptive," Martin wrote. "However, once a child does exist in your womb, I'm not going to assume a right to kill it just because the child's host (some refer to them as mothers) doesn't want it." Martin then changed his post on Monday afternoon to refer to the woman as the "bearer of the child" instead of the "host."
 (Bold type emphasis--mine.)

By now, it's been pointed out in several places that the choice of the word "host" is unfortunate in that it implies a host/parasite relationship, in which case, the host really may have an interest in relieving itself of a parasite. Equating a fetus with a tapeworm was surely not State Sen. Martin's intent. And it would be easy to simply leave it at that, as just the kind of gaffe that comes with misplaced "sarcasm" (note--there is another Steve Martin who does the sarcasm much better, and this guy here might want to leave it alone).

But I find I also have an issue with the back half of the bolded phrase--"some refer to them as mothers". Why, of course! That would be the accurate reproductive term for the female contributor of the ova in a conceptus. But it's truer in more than just the literal sense of the relationship of the person seeking the abortion to the fetus--it's also accurate in the sense that the decision not to carry a child is a parenting decision, albeit a terminal one.

There are many reasons why a person might chose to terminate a pregnancy, but not the least of these is because the mother has decided that there is something wrong with carrying this child--the mother is not ready. The time isn't right. The funds aren't there. The access to medical care is spotty. The life the child might be born into is anything but the situation this person wants to bring a child into. Those aren't unreasonable concerns. But there are also situations where, because of identifiable physical problems with the health of either the mother or the fetus, the quality of life for either or both can be at risk--that too, is a parenting choice The decision to terminate a pregnancy rather than carry a severely disabled or dying child is a parenting choice. The pregnant person is not simply a passive "host" but an active participant in trying to figure out what is best not only for herself, but sometimes for another who is in no position to have any say and must be spoken for. That "other" shouldn't have words spoken for it by someone who can't even recognize the rights of its primary parent.

Likewise, by "sarcastically" disappearing the motherhood of pregnant people who might seek abortions, Sen. Martin fails to realize that 61% of abortions are obtained by women who already are mothers to living children that must fit into their rationale for how they can financially, physically, and emotionally continue to be as good a caregiver as they can--in a way that simply might not include another child to care for. That is no small equation, and no small equation to be so lightly dismissed.

People can deride the phrase "war on women" as a ginned-up piece of hyperbole intended to bait social conservatives who have not come up with ways to make their message broadly palatable--but that isn't it. The reason social conservatives fail to talk about reproductive health in a broadly palatable way is because they don't even seem to see the women for the issues--how dare these "hosts" obscure the fetuses! How dare they speak over the sound of faint heartbeats, and object to vaginal ultrasounds the better to see the "real" person at stake with?  No wonder they aren't sure they are in a war on women--they sometimes don't even seem to see us!

And that, I think is the actually offensive thing. We work, we vote , we listen--we hear things. I don't see how these dumb things get said as if we aren't able to hear. But if there is a war to simply be recognized? Women will be heard as well as spoken about.

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