About the Name of this blog

This blog's title refers to a Dani fable recounted by Robert Gardner. The Dani live in the highlands of New Guinea, and at the the time he studied them, they lived in one of the only remaining areas in the world un-colonized by Europeans.

The Dani, who Gardner identifies only as a "Mountain People," in the film "The Dead Birds," have a myth that states there was once a great race between a bird and a snake to determine the lives of human beings. The question that would be decided in this race was, "Should men shed their skins and live forever like snakes, or die like birds?" According to the mythology, the bird won the race, and therefore man must die.

In the spirit of ethnographic analysis, this blog will examine myth, society, culture and architecture, and hopefully examine issues that make us human. As with any ethnography, some of the analysis may be uncomfortable to read, some of it may challenge your preconceptions about the world, but hopefully, all of it will enlighten and inform.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

I Do Not Think This Word Means What You Think It Means


It would be nice if the "Pro-Life" movement actually cared about life, not just about fetuses.  Instead, the movement is actually one of the most evil things I have ever seen, and is absolutely antithetical to actual life.

I know these are fighting words, but I am sick of the use of the term "Pro-Life" when it is obvious that they care nothing about actual living babies.  The same people who are trying to ban abortion are also cutting food stamps, child health care, universal preschool, education in general and anything else that would actually help babies survive and thrive once they are born.  A true "Pro-Life" position would mean that you wanted a baby to have the best opportunities in life.

If you really want to reduce abortion, several things should happen.

First, make sure that all people have access to high quality, free medical care.  This would ensure the health of both the mother and child.  The United States has one of the higher infant mortality rates in the Industrialized World.  This is due to the economic rationing of medical care in this country.  If you are rich (and probably white) you have excellent medical care, in fact some of the best care in the world.  If you are poor, your medical care is similar to that of the developing nations.

Second, lifelong medical and life care must be made available to disabled children.  One of the most heart wrenching decisions that middle and lower class families must make is what to do when a fetus is found to have severe disabilities.  You can see this in the vast reduction in the number of babies born with Down Syndrome.  Parents without the financial resources to care for a child who will need life-long assistance are frequently choosing abortion.  This is not necessarily what they wish to do, but they must make a calculated decision based on their resources.

As the government slashes programs to help these parents, they frequently have no other option.  A disabled child means that one, or maybe even both parents must leave the full time workforce in order to provide child care.  Even worse is the realization that once the parents are gone, there may be no one to care for their child.  Accordingly, abortion is terrible choice that they have no option to avoid.  I have had friends in this exact situation, and they were essentially forced to terminate the pregnancy, not out of desire, but because they had no financial capability to care for the child.  The only other option would be to abandon their baby to the state system, condemning it to a life of institutions and foster care, given that very few people want to adopt a special needs child.

In the worst case, North Dakota has banned abortions based on disability, while simultaneously cutting all of the social programs to help the parents of a disabled child.  I'm just going to call a spade a spade and say this is pure evil, to force a family into economic ruination and condemn them to a life of privation.

Next, cutting Food Stamps and other social safety net programs often forces a woman on the financial brink to consider an abortion.  Most people do not want to bring a life into the world without the ability to care for it, and the social safety net provides that ability.  Also, I will give a hard truth: although it is very chic for white people to adopt babies from Africa or Asia, it is not so chic for them to adopt a minority baby from Louisiana.  That is harsh, but true.

Next, providing universal preschool would help parents re-enter the workforce earlier, in order to be able to provide for their children.  Then, access to high quality education would set the children up to improve their standard of living, and rise in economic class.  By limiting these opportunities, children have few, if any, avenues to escape poverty, or even move out of the Middle Class.  In fact, it creates a generation that has a high likelihood of falling below their parents' economic station.

Giving every child the opportunities to succeed, guaranteeing medical care, and providing a strong social safety net would go a long way to reducing abortion.  Until the conservatives take these steps, I will not accept the term "Pro-Life."

So what is going on?  Why the massive rush to ban reproductive choice? 

It is helpful to understand what is actually under attack.  It is not just abortion, but all freedoms of women to control their bodies that is being legislated.  Planned Parenthood, Emergency Contraception, and even the Pill are being threatened.  Everything that has given women economic freedom is being systematically dismantled.

When women have control over their reproduction, they have the freedom to enter the workforce, the freedom to chose marriage or single life, and the freedom to chose to start a family on their own terms.  This is Biblically unacceptable, and given that the most vocal anti-abortion campaigners are Fundamentalist Christians, it begins to make sense. 

Colossians 3:18 states it very clearly: "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord."  A woman with reproductive freedom is in a position to clearly control her own life.  Turning back the clock means that women are forced to make a choice, marriage and family or the single life and a career.  Further, it returns babies to the status of punishment for sex outside of marriage.  It enforces abstinence.

So in the end, the draconian attacks on reproductive rights become a form of social engineering, attempting to lock women into the roles they occupied at the beginning of the 20th century.  There is no actual concern about the lives of the unborn, because if there was, they would be instituting other child and family friendly policies.  Since they are not, I will stick by my position that this is simply an underhanded effort to wind back the clock on equal rights.  And until they start actually promoting other causes that are actually promoting life, please stop buying into the "Pro-Life" term.

Call it what is, "Anti-Woman."

1 comment:

  1. And yet so many people are 'blind' to this or refuse to accept this. It is so 'their fault they are poor' and therefore 'saving the fetus' can be seen as another way to 'not be poor' if the child is 'smart' enough. GRRRR