[Content note: pregnancy, nonconsensual medical treatment]
Recap: an Italian woman in Britain had a mental health issue. She was pregnant. The state, for reasons so far unknown, performed a C-section on her without her consent and put her child in care. This is approximately every level of fucked up.
But now, because more details have become clear, it sounds like a lot of progressive people think it’s not as big a deal, because it was doctors who made the decision to perform the C-section which has now led to this woman’s child potentially being permanently adopted without her consent.
I have a question.
What the fuck are you even doing?
Even the most able-bodied in-full-health no-medical-issues-ever progressive should be able to comprehend that doctors are not gods, and are not infallible, and are certainly capable of making fucked up decisions for fucked up reasons.
Like Dr Joseph Lee who refused to prescribe contraception to a young woman because “his conscience” told him to lecture her about The Duties Of Women instead.
Like the numerous doctors who refuse to perform basic diagnosis on patients who are fat. (Degenerative spine condition?
Like the doctors who performed the Unfortunate Experiment on New Zealand women.
[EXTREME TRIGGER WARNING for abusive medical practice, genital mutilation] Or Dr Graeme Reeves who deliberately mutilated women’s genitals while performing surgery on them.
How about the amount of research which shows doctors are more likely to label people of colour as “non-compliant”? Or prison medical staff coercing incarcerated women to be sterilised?
This isn’t an argument that all doctors are evil and none are to be trusted. Just as pointing out the utterly shitty culture the NZ Police have towards victims of sexual violence, especially sexual violence committed by members of the NZ Police, isn’t an argument that all police officers are rapists.
But frankly, enough of them are that you should not feel comfortable just assuming that doctors – or police officers – are acting with integrity. Especially when the person on the receiving end of their treatment has the black marks of mental illness, migrant status, and gender against her.
You know what probably traumatises kids a hell of a lot more than the existence of a brothel on a street in their neighbourhood?
Seeing their parents having sex.
… Yep, we’ve all been there.
Sex work is legal in New Zealand. Busybody moralising fucks stalking sex workers and clients fucking shouldn’t be.
Especially moralising fucks who are trying to play the Big Man by threatening people with public shaming who he knows won’t be comfortable defending themselves.
Wayne Hawker, in short, is a fucking bully.
For a more in-depth discussion with the occasional terrible joke, check the Storify.
The ability of doctors to refuse to provide proper healthcare if God says it’s bad is again in the spotlight, with a Blenheim GP refusing to prescribe the Pill to a patient because he decided she needed to have babies, and her views on the matter didn’t mean shit.
Oh wait, sorry, I mean his ~Catholic conscience~ wouldn’t ~allow~ him to ~interfere~ with ~God’s plan~. And her views on the matter don’t mean shit. Which, because patriarchy, is something we protect under law.
Sorry, Dr Joseph Lee, but as far as I’m concerned, you don’t have a fucking conscience.
People who think that they get a controlling vote in the reproductive choices of others don’t have a conscience. People who think that their personal religious beliefs should be enforced on others – especially other who don’t share those beliefs – don’t have a conscience.
Medical professionals who advise teenagers to use the incredibly faulty “rhythm method” because it’s their “destiny” to get pregnant at 16 seriously do not have a conscience. Medical professionals who also refuse to prescribe condoms, because their religious extremism means they’d rather their patients get sexually transmitted infections which, super-irony-alert, might harm their fertility? Yeah, no conscience there either.
Medical professionals who say
The only circumstances in which he would prescribe the contraceptive pill would be if a woman wanted space between pregnancies, or had at least four children.
“I think they’ve already done their reproductive job”.
have no fucking conscience either. It’s not your fucking job to assess whether or not a patient has ticked enough of God’s boxes to access healthcare, you fucking shithead. You’re meant to be a fucking doctor. Fucking act like one or get the fuck out.
Oh, and “lead GP” Dr Scott Cameron, who thinks it’s okay to just have a “pamphlet” advising that “some” of your staff won’t provide contraception, and thinks getting reception to “screen” patients is good enough to protect them from being bullied by your religious fanatic employees? You don’t have a fucking conscience either, mate. You’ve enabled a religious bully. I hope you’re happy with yourself.
There is no conscience involved when a brave 23-year-old has to step forward and expose the underhanded, bullying shit going on at Wairau Community Clinic – except for hers.
Here’s the thing about “conscientious objection”:
Medical Council guidelines say personal beliefs should not affect the advice or treatment offered, and should not be expressed in a way that exploits a patient’s vulnerability or is likely to cause them distress.
You don’t think letting a doctor lecture a 16-year-old about how she must have babies because God says so is bullying? You don’t think that the setting of a community clinic, which, when opened, was heralded as “[making] it easier for those people who struggle to access health care” means the people there are vulnerable?
A truly conscientious doctor would look at the patient in front of him and say, “I’m sorry, I personally don’t agree with contraception. Here is the number of a doctor who can help you.” A truly conscientious doctor would have a sign on the door saying “I am not available to prescribe contraception or refer for abortion services. You can contact [number of a doctor who will].”
But this is never about real matters of conscience. This is about bullying people, especially women, into making the choices which are approved by patriarchal religious bullshit, choices which will permanently affect their lives, choices which will – because we do not support teen parents well, we do not support unemployed parents well, we do not support working parents well – limit their options and constrain their potential.
Dr Joseph Lee wants to control women. And Dr Scott Cameron, and everyone at the Wairau Community Clinic who supports him, are letting it happen.
That’s not fucking conscientious. And it deserves no protection under NZ law.
So Monarchy NZ has managed to convince the managers of various NZ landmarks to light their edifices in blue or pink “depending on the baby’s gender“.
Tiny problem, there. Well, several tiny problems.
Sex isn’t gender. There’s simply no guarantee that the configuration of the royal baby’s genitalia will match the behaviour or identity of the child when it’s old enough to express itself.
Of course, the baby is going to face even more massive pressure to conform to society’s opinions about these things, but forcing someone to live a lie so we don’t have to be bothered updating our backward ideas about gender isn’t really something we should be okay with.
Sex isn’t even sex. There’s also no guarantee that the configuration of the royal baby’s genitalia will actually tell us if the baby is a boy or a girl. Intersex conditions may be present in up to 1.9% of human births.
(Props to Jan Logie for noting this)
Aren’t there more important things to worry about? I mean, if we must continue to treat the Duchess of Cambridge’s uterus as our own personal property, shouldn’t we be a little more focused on her health? The health of her child? If we must celebrate, can’t we just let off some fireworks in a variety of diverse and inclusive colours?
Because what this all boils down to is reducing an infant to the appearance of its genitalia. That’s just a bit fucking creepy, isn’t it?
I know, I know. Another day, another dollar, another No Rights to Your Own Uterus media release which waxes lyrical about how the sovereign duty of [women] is to churn out babies for Jesus.
But on the one hand, we need to keep an eye on the crap they’re spewing. And on the other, their language is so desperately tryhard it brings a smile to my baby-hating face:
The Family Planning Association continues to seduce our youth and wage war against women, by its promotion of contraception ,sterilisation and abortion. In God’s plan for procreation women’s fertility is a cause of celebration, not a call for sterilisation. Pregnancy is not a disease and unborn children are not invaders and the enemy to be destroyed.
I need a badge which says “Death Peddler”. Who’s with me?
[Trigger warning for partner violence]
As a person currently on the internet, you have almost certainly already heard about what many are insisting on calling “the Nigella incident”.
Charles Saatchi was photographed holding his upset partner by the throat, several times, in a public place, while many observers did sweet fuck all about it.
I’m not going to dwell on the event itself, because many others already have:
- Alecia Simmonds on Why didn’t anyone help Nigella Lawson?
- Anna Maxted in The Telegraph on Nigella Lawson: yes, it can happen to her
- Kate Harding with related reading on why choking is a big flashing warning sign
Now, it is fair to say that we do not know every detail of what happened. And it is fair to say that sometimes even photographs can be misleading. So a lot of people right now may have a small point when they say we mustn’t be quick to judge – on the face of the initial reporting.
Thankfully, Charles Saatchi has taken a lot of the guesswork out of the equation for us.
Saatchi has gone on the record with the London Evening Standard about what happened, and to call it “enlightening” is a serious understatement.
Charles Saatchi admitted the couple had a row as they sat outside Scott’s in Mayfair but said they had “made up” by the time they got home.
“About a week ago, we were sitting outside a restaurant having an intense debate about the children, and I held Nigella’s neck repeatedly while attempting to emphasise my point.
“There was no grip, it was a playful tiff. The pictures are horrific but give a far more drastic and violent impression of what took place. Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing, not because she had been hurt.
“We had made up by the time we were home. The paparazzi were congregated outside our house after the story broke yesterday morning, so I told Nigella to take the kids off till the dust settled.”
Let’s play pretend for a moment. Let’s believe everything Saatchi says: completely harmless, just a tiff, nothing serious, all forgiven, blown out of proportion. (And that it all depends on what your definition of “grip” is).
Even in that unlikely, bizarro universe, Charles Saatchi is still a man who:
- holds people by the neck to emphasise points (seriously, who does this?)
- can’t acknowledge that Lawson has her own feelings – “Nigella’s tears were because we both hate arguing”, not “because she was upset about the argument“
- wants us to simultaneously believe it was an upsetting argument and a “playful tiff”
- cannot grant his partner any agency. Check out that little tell at the end. “I told Nigella to take the kids off.” Not, “We decided it would be best if …” or “Nigella wanted to get the kids out of the limelight.”
“I told Nigella.”
Even with the most charitable of views, in which this is all a hilarious misunderstand and won’t we look back on it and laugh one day, Charles Saatchi’s statements are a little scary.
His decision to make these statements on his own, while Lawson and her agents aren’t making any statements, only adds to the picture of someone who is supremely self-centred.
He has now been cautioned for the assault on Lawson.
Spotted on Tumblr, not linking because I don’t want to single out the person:
One of the many reasons I have found that pro choice supporters use as a reason for abortion is in the cases of rape or a baby that will have medical problems, for example Down’s Syndrome. But in fact rape only accounts for less than 1% of the reasons why people have abortions. As for medical difficulties I ask you this, who are we to judge who lives and who dies? How sad is it that we seem to think only those who are ‘perfect’ can positively contribute to society? Also the my body, my choice argument. Yes, your body it your body, but the unborn baby inside you isn’t. In my personal opinion if you are willing to consent to sex, then you are also consenting to the possibility of a baby. Even for those born with sever difficulties, they can still have a positive impact and effect on those who they come into contact with, even of that is just for them to appreciate what they have.
Let’s unpack this!
But in fact rape only accounts for less than 1% of the reasons why people have abortions.
If it accounted for 2%, anti-choicers would be totally okay with abortion. Just kidding!
As for medical difficulties I ask you this, who are we to judge who lives and who dies?
And you thought I was kidding when I said anti-choicers would prefer pregnant people to die. Yes, the specific context is talking about “foetal medical problems”, but come on, it’s just so perfect.
Also the my body, my choice argument. Yes, your body it your body, but the unborn baby inside you isn’t.
Yet it demands the use of my blood and oxygen. All I’m doing is cutting off its supply. It’s like tough love. Surely we can just expect the foetus to pull itself up by its own bootstraps?
In my personal opinion if you are willing to consent to sex, then you are also consenting to the possibility of a baby.
See, dear antichoicer, this is why prochoicers talk about abortion in cases of rape. Because even the densest, most wilfully-ignorant sex-negative fundy has to acknowledge (okay, some of them don’t) that not all procreative intercourse is consensual.
How sad is it that we seem to think only those who are ‘perfect’ can positively contribute to society? … Even for those born with sever difficulties, they can still have a positive impact and effect on those who they come into contact with, even of that is just for them to appreciate what they have.
Now, the issue of abortion in the case of disability is gigantically complex, and I’m not going to pithily sum it up here ’cause that would be gross. What I want to highlight, though, is the antichoicer’s attitude: even the most fucked-up person can still ~inspire~ the able-bodied to ~appreciate what they have~, so who cares about that person’s own experience or point of view, right?
The antichoice movement, people: it really, really, really is all about controlling pregnant people’s bodies and letting them die if it tightens that control. Otherwise I’m pretty sure I would have seen a coherent, internally-consistent argument in its favour by now.
Let’s play a game, dear readers.
What is the most ridiculously fucked up thing about this story?
a) The truly astounding levels of entitlement displayed by the bio-douche involved
b) The fact this even made it to court
c) How the bio-douche’s utterly scary entitlement complex is only heightened by the fact the pregnant woman has said she doesn’t intend to abort, thus meaning he wants to legally force her to give up custody of an apparently wanted child
d) The fact that news.com.au seriously thought that “Desperate father asks court to prevent abortion” (or, in the URL, “Father’s desperate abortion fear”) wasin any wayan appropriate headline?
I’m going with D, personally. Protip, patriarchy: subtext needs more sub.
As a friend tweeted, remember the time I got trashed because abortion was a dead issue and no one really cared about it and our laws weren’t going to change any time soon so why didn’t I get back into the kitchen where I belonged?
Now it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that Judith Collins thinks young pregnant people’s wishes are less important than enforcing their parents’ ownership rights, given her support of similar provisions during the 2004 Care of Children bill debate, nor that a finance minister of Catholic faith agrees.
But I have to give props to Dr Paul Hutchison for acknowledging, even in the most tempered terms, that this isn’t actually an automatic-moral-outrage issue:
We have to tread lightly, doing everything possible to have the parents involved. But having worked in places like National Women’s, where I saw women who had been beaten by their families because of an unknown pregnancy, that’s why the law is there
The alternative proposed, that young pregnant people should be able to see a judge in chambers within 24 hours, sounds fine and fucking dandy if you’ve got privilege shining out your ass. What if the judge is an asshat and agrees with Collins and English that you should be forced to tell your parents unless you have written documentation to establish they’ll beat you? What if the judge is a douchewad who believes in bullshit ideas like only “forcible” rape really counting?? What if you live in godforsaken Gore and the only judge willing to do teen abortion decisions is in fucking Rangiora but will only see you on a Wednesday? (Oh look, I’m drawing on the actual current abortion situation for some pregnant people). What if your abusive parents demand to know where you’ve been? I’m sure they’d react really well because obviously teenagers only refuse to tell their parents because they’re just “mental“.
What if we pass this retrograde bullshit and within two weeks the Sunday Star Fucktimes decides to run another panic-mongering article about School Counsellors Arranging Secret Judge Visits?
Because what this issue comes down to is some parents thinking they have every right to control every moment of their children’s lives. The specific current story is about a parent who did find out and insists she would have been totally supportive of her child getting an abortion, but is outraged because she didn’t get to find out before the fact and because she didn’t get to exercise control in granting that “support”.
It is not about health. It is not about supporting teenagers through a difficult time. It is about control. Scary, patriarchal control.
And Sunday Star-Times? Hire a fucking journalist with some basic ethics and numeracy, would you? Because that shit scare-statistic at the bottom about How Many Teens Had Abortions!!! would be a lot less damaging to your rep as a publication with integrity if you noted that all the abortions performed on over-16-year-olds wouldn’t require parental consent under this shit law anyway.
Of course it would also make the Big Scary Number a lot smaller, and that would ruin the panic-mongering, wouldn’t it?
More awesome rage from Boganette.