Personhood

Besides all the obvious problems that the United States are having right now, buried deep within is the misogyny. The need to control women and that extends to controlling their bodies. That battle has been going on for centuries. Reproductive rights, despite what the feminist movement has attempted, are still not fully under a woman’s control.

The abortion debate is one which has divided people for years. Some firmly on the side of pro-life while others believing in the right to choose. While this debate is ongoing, on the side the American government has been putting in place laws which police pregnant women and make criminals of some. How many out there would have thought they could be considered criminals just by getting pregnant and not behaving as the state believes we should? Incredible! And frightening!

Watching this you will feel that it is like a real life version of the Handmaid’s Tale. That women are just to be thought of as vessels for birthing babies. Across the United States there has been a movement which is gathering momentum called Fetal Personhood. This means that at the moment of conception that the fetus has all the rights of a human being. So if a woman was to drink, do drugs, consider abortion, or behave in any other way deemed dangerous to the fetus they could be arrested.

This is exactly what happened to Tammy Loertscher, a woman living in the state of Wisconsin. One of many Americans without health insurance, once she became pregnant and went to the doctor trouble ensued. Tammy, who had been living with a serious thyroid problem and ensuing depression, mentioned to the doctor that she had been feeling depressed and that in the past she had resorted to self medicating to alleviate it.

Once that cat was out of the bag, Tammy was detained against her will for potentially endangering the fetus. The fetus was given its own attourney. Even the legal system in Wisconsin was in on this as the courts denied Tammy her constitutional rights and put her in jail. If you think that this is an unusual circumstance then you would be wrong. The doc, directed by Jo Ardinger (first film), also shows other women in different states who have undergone such treatment.

Women’s rights in the States (and in other places) have been eroded to the point where this is possible. That once you become pregnant in certain states that the fetus has rights but the woman no longer has hers. Of course, a disproportionate number of women who this happens to are of colour and poor. Many do not know that these laws even exist. Ardinger’s film gives a voice to these women and serves as an educational or awareness tool to make sure women know what is going on.

Anti-choicers have now even declared war on women who have no intention of ending their pregnancies. Access to abortion is not only being more and more restricted but the criminalization of pregnant women is occuring. 38 states in the United States have these personhood laws which enable fetuses to be viewed as victims of crime. The danger of these laws is that it depends on who interprets them. For instance, if a pregnant woman gets into a car accident she can be charged with endangering the life of the fetus. If you think this sounds like stretching things then look up the case of a woman (of colour) in the U.S. who was shot in the stomach and charged with endangering the fetus. The charges were eventually dropped but….frightening!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*