7 Better Ways to Prevent Eugenics than Banning Abortion

In response to the horrible bill banning abortion in the case of disability, I would like to propose 10 much more effective ways to combat eugenics. Ones which will actually help.

  1. Fight for Better Accessibility

One of the biggest barriers towards integration into society and thus the biggest source of “misery” is the lack of accessibility in our world. What is infuriating is that it doesn’t have to be that way. In a world where almost every person carries around a tiny computer more powerful than what was used to send man into space, the idea that we don’t have the ability to make this world easier to navigate for people who can’t see, or hear, or have mobility issues, is a little ridiculous.

Continue reading “7 Better Ways to Prevent Eugenics than Banning Abortion”

7 Better Ways to Prevent Eugenics than Banning Abortion
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This is Not How to Do it

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R) signed a controversial abortion bill Thursday that, among other things, would ban the procedure if it is sought because the fetus was diagnosed with a disability or defect such as Down syndrome. – https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2016/03/24/indiana-just-banned-abortion-if-the-fetus-has-down-syndrome/

Ok let’s get one thing straight. The solution to one group being oppressed is not to take away the rights of another group. You are not helping disabled people by taking away the rights of people with uteri. This is not a solution. 

All this bill will do is increase the number of people having unsafe medical procedures, and increase the amount of disabled children who end up in abusive homes. Forcing someone to have a child they don’t want doesn’t end ableism. The parents forced to care for a child they would have rather terminated are more likely to resent the child. Forcing people who are bigoted against a group to raise a member of that group may eventually lead that person to reevaluate their bigotry but at what cost? Children shouldn’t be forced to live with abuse just so someone can learn a lesson eventually.

With the high rates of murder of disabled children, a bill such as this is basically creating a situation where these events are even more likely.

Taking away a person’s bodily autonomy reinforces that that is an ok thing to do, and that idea is exceptionally dangerous to disabled people. We are already dealing with too many people who think we don’t have a right to control our own bodies. Parents who think it is ok to drastically alter their children’s bodies without consent, people who think it is ok to forced disabled people to have abortions against their consent, and the fact that disabled people have an 80% chance of being sexually assaulted (higher for female presenting disabled people). Even in less extreme circumstances, people who think it is OK to touch or force their help on people using assistive devices like wheelchairs or canes.

What’s more, there will be living breathing disabled people harmed by this bill. People with disabilities are more likely to be poor. They are more likely to be struggling. Bills that limit access to abortion have a disproportionately higher impact on people living in poverty. They can’t afford to fight legally for special exemptions. They can’t afford to go to another state to get access to the health services they mean. Moreover, the decision to terminate a disabled child, may be directly influenced by their own knowledge of their ability to care for one, whether it be because they lack the physical energy necessary in some cases, or because they lack the financial resources to be able to properly provide for them.

All this bill does is further restrict and take away the rights of women and people with uteri, and put more disabled people in harms way. Remember, a disabled woman is still a woman. If you take away her rights as a woman to defend her rights as a disabled person, she still ends up with a loss of rights.

This is Not How to Do it

What is Anti-Eugenics in Practice?

I’ve previously written about the difference between eugenics and pro-choice, and how the thought process that goes into the decision to abort a disabled fetus is both a symptom and a perpetuation of systemic ableism.

What does it mean in practice to oppose eugenics, however? If aborting a fetus on the basis of disability is harmful, how do we address that? Do we make it illegal? Do we restrict a person’s ability to make that decision by eliminating the ability to know in advance whether a child has a disability or not?

How can you oppose eugenics and still remain pro-choice. Isn’t it wrong to shame people who get abortions for the reasons they get abortions?

Let me make it clear. The right to bodily autonomy is such that any restriction, even for the best of intentions, is a violation of bodily autonomy. Regardless why someone is getting an abortion, the ability to do so safely and without barrier is essential. All people should have the right to access an abortion without shaming. Continue reading “What is Anti-Eugenics in Practice?”

What is Anti-Eugenics in Practice?

What's the Difference Between Eugenics and Pro-Choice

A lot of people can’t really parse the difference between being pro-choice and supporting eugenics. If choice is choice, what does it matter if people choose to abort children with disabilities specifically? Doesn’t it make sense that not everyone is capable and able to care for a child with a disability? Aren’t we taking away a person’s right to choose by saying that making that decision on the basis of disability is wrong?

It can be confusing and difficult to deconstruct, until we realize that when we are discussing eugenics and why it is dangerous, we are not discussing whether or not a person has a right to choose to end a pregnancy, but discussing the bigoted ideas that may be the reason for the decision.

Pro-choice activists can instinctively understand for example why abortion on the basis of sex or race would be wrong, while not seeing that assertion as invalidating a person’s right to choose. So why do we have this difficulty with disability?

Because socially we see disability as a bad thing, so much so that we have a tendency to see disabled people as not being fully human. This may seem like an extreme representation of the opinion until you realize that there are still arguments over whether people with certain disabilities have consciousness, are able to experience pain, etc. That treatments considered torture against abled people such as ABA and conversion therapy (not to mention bleach enemas) are not only still allowed for treatment of certain disabilities, but outright fucking encouraged by charities that claim to speak for these disabilities. That the murder of disabled children is often excused and almost never results in jail time.

Continue reading “What's the Difference Between Eugenics and Pro-Choice”

What's the Difference Between Eugenics and Pro-Choice

Your Transantagonism is also Ableist

Recently Ophelia Benson added to the TERFY hole she’s been digging by tearing into an abortion provider who chose to use inclusive language when discussing issues surrounding pregnancy and access. It’s an issue that comes up surprisingly often. The discussion around genitalia is so needlessly gendered, that people often fall into the trap of equating body parts with identity.

The equation of women with “having a uterus” or the ability to have children is obviously exclusionary to both trans men and trans women. Not everyone who can get pregnant is a woman and not every woman has the ability to get pregnant. It is also exclusionary to many of us with disabilities.

The social equation of women with having a uterus is extremely damaging to women who, for one reason or another, have lost their ovaries, or uterus. Many of them struggle with feelings of inadequacy or identity loss for this reason. Harmful concepts, like those established by patriarchy and outdated feminist concepts that reduce women to their genitalia, only make the struggle more difficult.

Continue reading “Your Transantagonism is also Ableist”

Your Transantagonism is also Ableist

Crack in the Womb

[Spoilers for the Season 1 finale of Steven Universe follow.]

The moment that sealed Steven Universe into richly-deserved fame and a place in future discussions of the evolution of pop culture was the 52nd episode, ”Jail Break.”  In addition to pointedly and thoroughly burnishing the show’s credentials as queer-inclusive and emotionally complex, it provided viewers with a beautifully-composed song-and-fight sequence, from the only one of the four main characters to have avoided a musical number until then:

The words of “Stronger Than You” are poetic and poignant, particularly these:

I am a conversation.

I am made

O-o-o-o-of

Lo-o-o-o-ove o-o-o-o-of

And it’s stronger than you.

Continue reading “Crack in the Womb”

Crack in the Womb

Yams for All

We need to change how we think about childbearing.

Having a child is probably the single most expensive decision someone in the developed world can make.  Once a child is born, one becomes responsible for that child’s food, shelter, emotional support, education, and a thousand and one other needs harder to anticipate and describe, sometimes through socialized systems that ease access to various goods.  The guardians of children become their first and fastest path toward accumulating the possessions that they will then use to gain their first taste of independence.  Parents and other caretakers and among the most important fonts of culture, moral growth, and personal development that any person will ever have.  The enormity of the caretaker’s role is so well understood that it routinely features in sexist writings that insist that women should be content with that specific influence on the future and desire no additional option or greater agency than that.

But there is one situation in which that understanding is ignored: the decision to have a child.

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Yams for All

A Sex Ed Manifesto

We are here to inform you that consent is an ongoing negotiation that can be withdrawn at ANY time and that if you EVER ignore that withdrawal, you are a rapist. We are here to inform you that a rapist is not something you want to be. We are here to inform you that you are never, ever, EVER “entitled” to any kind of sex with ANYONE, no matter what they say or don’t say, do or don’t do, drink or don’t drink, if they do not enthusiastically consent to it. We are here to inform you that, no matter what gender you are or what gender your partner is, YOU have the option to say no, and they have the OBLIGATION to acquiesce to your refusal, and they are bad people if they do not.

Continue reading “A Sex Ed Manifesto”

A Sex Ed Manifesto

And now for just $24.99 you too can have your own pet uterus!

If one watches the forced birth / “pro-life” talking heads long enough, one starts to notice something a little strange.

Get them on the subject of women seeking out and receiving medical procedures, and they bray and stamp about “unborn children” and the horror that such sacrosanct beings are being killed for something so prosaic as parasitizing a woman’s body against her will.

Get them on the subject of people of any sex using contraceptives…and they bray and stamp about sluts and their slutty ways, demeaning themselves with sex for pleasure.

Which is kind of odd, since contraceptive availability is the most effective prophylactic against abortions at the societal level.  One would think that the “pro-life” crowd would be the most obsessively enthusiastic promoters of birth control by far, dumping truckloads of condoms and pamphlets about pills and IUDs everywhere they imagine semen might encounter a cervix to make absolutely sure that every zygote that comes to be does so intentionally.

But that’s not what we get.

One would imagine that people who define themselves by wanting to reduce the number of embryos that aren’t brought to term would be passionate opponents of rape, harping on consent and demanding that rapists be prosecuted aggressively in the name of making every fetus wanted.

But that’s not what we get.

One would imagine that people who want to restrict women’s bodily autonomy in the name of protecting children would want to make the world a more welcoming place for children, by advocating for healthcare availability, child-care services, maternity and paternity leave, assistance for low-income households with children, and funding for education at all levels.

We get the exact opposite of that.  We get “pro-life” speakers and politicians who demonize contraception with the same energy that they point at something they wrongly assert is the same as murder.  We get politicians who rail against comprehensive sexual education that would help people avoid making unwanted fetuses.   We get religious leaders who encourage women to marry as young as possible so that their sex can have their god’s imprimatur.  We get people who think that sexually transmitted infections are God’s wrath and vaccines against them are sacrilege.

We get clergy who promote the idea that women who assent to unmarried sex are shameful sluts and harlots who have “defiled” and “disrespected” themselves.  We get loud, politically powerful cults that encourage their daughters to get married as young as possible and sometimes even pick their husbands for them, and tell them that objecting to any of this is a condemnation to eternal torment.  We get schools of law that hold that a marriage contract is a writ of consent to any and every sexual urge a woman’s husband might ever have and that it’s not possible for him to rape her no matter what he does or what she wants or doesn’t want. For she is an unclean, sinful monster if she assents to sex before she’s married or if she is raped (for bringing it on herself, clearly) and no longer has the option to not assent after she is married.

We get a media establishment and legal system that spend exorbitant amounts of time telling men that they can rape whoever they want if they say that the victim inflamed their lust by dressing “provocatively” or wearing makeup or being out at night or drinking or not being a virgin at the time.  We get public figures and online “rights” movements that maintain that most women who report rapes are lying about consensual encounters.  We get military procedures that tell women who are under sexual attack to lie back and take itto avoid injury.  We get cases where a rapist can sue to try to stop his victim from getting an abortion and, failing that, can sue for joint custody of the resulting child.

All by itself, one could almost find something laudable in the “pro-life” stance, framed as trying to protect “children” from harm.

But that’s not what we get.  Instead, a very different picture emerges.  They are not pro-life.  They are pro-forced birth.

The anti-abortion position is part of a spectrum of stances that, all together, point at a movement that could not possibly care less about children.  They don’t care about preventing unwanted pregnancy, or making sure that every fetus is a wanted fetus.  No, they have a different agenda.

The anti-abortion position seeks a world where a uterus-bearer has no say in whether they give birth after they get pregnant, no say in whether they get pregnant after they have sex, and no say in when they have sex.

The anti-abortion fantasy is a world where women have no sexual agency whatsoever, and every part of a woman’s biology is given over to the task of carrying and bearing children.  But not her children—his.  Nothing is hers—not her body, not her mind, not her life.  Nothing but the burden of carrying out the sexual and reproductive will of those who would look upon her with desire.

The anti-abortion vision is a world of men and ambulatory uteruses to be acquired and put to use.

It is in this context, and this context only, that the pro-forced-birth position makes sense.  These are their objectives.  Only when the whole package is viewed at once does the true picture emerge.

It’s not about fetuses, not about babies, not about death or murder or morality.

It’s about destroying the very idea that women have a place in this world that isn’t on the shelf next to the other appliances.

It’s about destroying the idea that women are people.

Never forget that.
And now for just $24.99 you too can have your own pet uterus!

Expendable Zygotes

I earlier explained why the question of fetal personhood is, in the end, a red herring diverting attention from the glaring sexism that underlies opposition to abortion rights.  It comes up at all because a huge fraction of forced-birth advocates devalue women and ignore trans people to the point where one wonders whether they know that uteruses are inside people and not something people keep on their coffee tables.
But red herring or not, the question of fetal personhood has a number of interesting wrinkles that are worth addressing and which can influence how we think about conception and pregnancy.  These wrinkles also highlight the pernicious role that religion plays throughout this topic.

Continue reading “Expendable Zygotes”

Expendable Zygotes