It hasn’t been long since sex educator Margaret Sanger broke the law by informing others about contraceptives or long since we avoided public scrutiny by secretly shipping unwed pregnant mothers off to maternity homes . Women can now keep their jobs throughout pregnancy, have control over their own bodies, and even (if they want) show their bellies while being pregnant. Because restrictions have been removed, pregnancy and the fear of pregnancy has now been replaced by a freedom to work, plan for babies, the survival of single mothers and fathers, and even the ability of women to enjoy sex without worry.
All of this might soon change for Mississippi women if Initiative 26 passes this November. Not in November, 1960, or in November, 1920, but in November, 2011. If this amendment passes, raped women would be mandated to carry babies. If this amendment passes, women could be imprisoned in order to ensure a successful birth (or because the woman didn’t ensure birth). In certain situations, doctors would even be at a loss to save a woman’s life. Some women will have many more children than they can feed. Last and probably least, many women will feel uneasy having sex.
If this Initiative passes, I vote for accompanying laws. I propose Mississippians ensure families needing help feeding their children have access to free food, health care, and general sustenance. Instead of taking from the educational system or not ensuring our safety because there’s no money, this should be funded by an increase in taxes which are specifically earmarked to avoid abortion. Mississippi doctors should be allowed to save women in crisis. And for every woman that is raped andtherefore becomes pregnant, I like the idea of choosing from one male from the Mississippi population, of both the rich and the poor and in a random drawing, and mandating he wear a sympathy belly for nine months.
It’s easy to see how this Initiative might pass. People don’t want to be baby killers or vote to allow others to be baby killers. If Mississippi passes Intiative 26 and prosecuting for abortion happens, and Mississippians decide the life of a woman isn’t worth saving, Mississippi should increase the penalty for rape to death (just because men should die, too, perhaps.)
Since the affluent will probablystill find a way to end pregnancies, impoverished people will feel the weight of pregnancy more– and the gap between the po0r and rich will further widen.
Talking about “women’s rights” seems so cold compared to talking about freedom, and I hope the initiative’s opponents will remember to talk about pain and suffering, the strengthening of the middle class, how important quality education is, and putting our money where our mouth is.
I wish we’d honestly work to reduce the number of abortions while we still work to protect women. We could start by providing our youth with proper education, ensuring there is easy access to birth control, and providing help to struggling families.
A h/t to Dave Mindeman for bringing this initiative to my attention.