January 20, 2013
A bad year to be a woman with a reproductive system.
I want to take a few moments to delineate the many ways in which 2012 was a spectacularly depressing year to be a pregnant woman. We’re only a few weeks into 2013 so it’s still too soon to say, but so far I haven’t had to listen to that jangly Rick Santorum song with the lyrics, “We’ll have justice for the unborn/Factories back on our shores…” one single time, and that is progress. Neither have I noted once that a panel of old men (too many of whom with more children than fingers on one hand) have been provided a international platform from which to debate just how much American women’s access to contraception should be curtailed.
And speaking of “debate”, so far in 2013 I have not once had to endure the insult of 91 members of Parliament (including the Status of Women Minister) voting for a say as to the contents of my uterus. I was five-weeks pregnant at the time, and I was absolutely horrified, as well as confused as to why I had not been brought in to provide expert consultation. Surely some expertise might have been necessary. Did you know that there are actually 233 members of Parliament who have not a single uterus among them? The input of a living, thinking pregnant woman into this conversation might have provided some much-needed perspective.
So far, 2013 has been an improvement. It’s been at least a few weeks since a group of Ontario MPPs (not a uterus among them either, note) staged a press-conference supporting a move to stop public-funding of abortion in this province. And while I am sure that several women worldwide actually have died this year because they’ve lacked access to abortion and other maternal health procedures, there has not been a story with the level of tragedy of Savita Halappanavar‘s, who died in Ireland after miscarrying at 17 weeks pregnant when a fading fetal heartbeat was privileged over an actual human life.
2012 was a bad year to be a woman with a reproductive system. I’m talking Handmaid’s Tale territory. When I got pregnant, it was immediately apparent to me that my body had become a national concern, that my womb was now somebody’s territory for staging a shouty “debate”. A woman who was pregnant in 2012 owned herself just a little less, and it was total madness. I really can’t believe we put up with it. My resolution for 2013 is that we not do that anymore.