Written by Amanda Marcotte for RHRealityCheck.org – News, commentary and community for reproductive health and justice.
In this era of fetuses being called to testify in court and anti-choicers trying to strip away funding for cancer screening and condoms, it does feel for pro-choicers like we’ve slipped down the rabbit hole, but instead of finding ourselves in a fun Wonderland, we’re instead in the madhouse of Wingnutland. With that in mind, I have to tip my hat to the pro-choice members of the Texas legislature, who decided to fight absurdity with absurdity last Thursday during the debate over a law that will require any woman who wants an abortion to get an ultrasound, go home to “think” about it, and only then come back for her abortion. It’s unclear yet if she’ll be required to sit in her room and write, “I will not be a dirty slut,” 100 times over in her best handwriting and be denied her cartoons for a week. Perhaps legislators will be holding on to that for the next legislative session.
Furious at the sexist paternalism and anti-choice nuttery behind this bill—but unable to do anything to stop it—pro-choice Texas legislators instead decided to engage in a bit of performance art to draw attention to the hostility towards women and short-sightedness inherent in these ultrasound bills that condescendingly masquerade as caring. Houston state representative Harold Dutton got the most coverage for repeatedly making the point that “pro-lifers” drop all pretense of caring about life the second it can’t be used to punish sexually active women. In rapid order, he introduced three amendments that were tabled by the majority, who really didn’t want to address the issue of the wellbeing of actual children when potential children matter so much more to them. All three amendments addressed what should happen if a woman looks at a sonogram and decides not to have abortion. The first amendment would have required the state to pay for the child’s college tuition, the second required the state to pay for the child’s health care until age 18, and the third required the state to pay for the child’s health care until age six.
No one was surprised that the anti-choice coalition was able to successfully block these amendments, but Dutton’s point was amply made: anti-choice sentimentality about children is just a ruse to force childbirth to punish sexually active women, and they don’t care one whit about the care and feeding of actual children once they’re born and have served the woman-punishing purpose.
Dutton had allies in this move to use the amendment process to draw attention to the hypocrisy, sexism, and sadism of those who push anti-choice legislation. Rep. Joaquin Castro of San Antonio also neatly proved that anti-choicers don’t care about fetal life one bit, by offering an amendment that would require clinics providing abortion to offer medically accurate advice about contraception, with the aim of preventing future unwanted pregnancies and therefore abortions. The supposed lovers of fetal life shot this amendment down, doing as anti-choicers generally do, and choosing woman-punishing over abortion-prevention. … Read more