August 02, 2007

Completely missing the point in Ohio

Via Broadsheet I learn, while procrastinating writing evaluations for my students, that the `choice for men' contingent of the MRA movement have actually gotten legislation up for consideration in the Ohio House of Representatives.

In Ohio, there's an actual bill being considered in the state's House of Representatives that would require a woman seeking an abortion to obtain written consent from the father, according to the Record-Courier by way of Feministing. 'This is important because there are always two parents and fathers should have a say in the birth or the destruction of that child,' Rep. John Adams, an antiabortion Republican state legislator who submitted the bill, told the paper. 'I didn't bring it up to draw attention to myself or to be controversial. In most cases, when a child is born the father has financial responsibility for that child, so he should have a say.'"

Broadsheet blogger Katharine Mieszkowski goes on to ably point out all the myriad ways in which actually enforcing this law would be a complete nightmare. But even she seems to miss the real problem with this bill, that is, the entire point of reproductive rights, viz, bodily autonomy.

You see, ultimately, the right to an abortion isn't the right to avoid child support or commit quasi-infanticide. It's the right to not have one's body used as a life-support system against one's wishes. The problem with this bill is simply that it was written specifically and deliberately to deny women this right. Indeed, it establishes a major organ system in a woman's body as the joint property of her and the man with whom she had sex. Whether that man was her husband or a complete stranger, and whether that sex was an act of love or an act of rape, simply by having inserted tab A into slot B he now enjoys one-half ownership of slot B, which incidentally happens to be another person. `Choice for men' might try to use the rhetoric of gender equity, but it's really about resurrecting coverture.


Noumena said...

Covering this same story, Amanda said something interesting.

The law is not here to make the one guy who left you for another woman come back nor is the law here to make sure that one hot chick is attached to you for life against her will by a baby. It’s utterly childish for men to look to the law to trap women for them that they can’t hold on their own merits.

Women trapping men using an `accidental' pregnancy is a prominent trope among MRAs. I wonder whether that might be another instance of projecting one's vices and malicious fantasies onto one's Other?

Anonymous said...

I think this has also missed the point.

This is about opening a door and walking through it to a new ear of female subservience.

If a man can decide whether or not a woman can abort, how long before you have to have written permission from the hubs for birth control? No hubs? Dang-I guess you don't NEED any birth control, do you?

And then, since the woman's body is the incubator.... well we can't have women just buying those "adult" products willy-nilly can we?

This, coupled with Tom Brinkman's re-introduction of a bill to make you a criminal if you so much as accompany an Ohio woman to another State for an abortion, reflects the thinking of the Jesusistan fringe in Ohio Gopper politics. Women just ain't smart enough to make their own decisions.

Noumena said...

Thanks for your comment. I'm not sure whether you meant to agree or say I haven't gone far enough, but your first line sounds like the latter.

So, in response to that: I don't think there's any major point of disagreement between us. What you call opening a door to a new era of female subservience is exactly what I meant by a resurrection of coverture.

Where we might disagree is over whether these patriarchal laws really are grounded in Christianity. I don't think so -- I know too many pro-choice and even dedicated progressive, feminist Christians to think Christianity automatically entails patriarchy. Indeed, I think things go in precisely the opposite direction: misogyny and patriarchy are `justified' ex post by constructing misogynistic and patriarchal versions of the local religious tradition, which in this case is Christianity.