Monday, July 17, 2017

Reproduction issues--again

At the end of this month, a law will go into effect in Arkansas that will disallow abortion unless the person who provided the other half of the fetus's DNA (otherwise known as the "father") consents.  And reproductive rights take a big step backwards.
Many people claim that since the child belongs to the father 50%, he should get a say in whether or not the fetus is brought to term.  But what is a man's contribution, really?  Men provide 23 chromosomes, so half of the child's DNA.  Women provide 23 chromosomes, plus an environment where the gametes fuse into a blastocyst, an incubation chamber for the developing fetus for 36-40 weeks, all of the developing fetus's nourishment, labor and delivery services during the baby's birth, and in many cases, nourishment in the form of breast milk for six months or longer.  Not exactly an even distribution of labor here, is it? 
Some men would argue that if the woman doesn't want the child, she should hand it off to the father.  But this discounts two factors.  The first, as mentioned above, is that there is no "child" to hand off without the pregnancy, labor and delivery all provided by the woman.  And let's not kid ourselves, pregnancy is not without risks.  Prior to the 19th century, complications during pregnancy and childbirth were the leading cause of death for women around the world.  Even now, pregnancy complications can include morning sickness, sciatica, gestational diabetes, ectopic pregnancy and pre-eclampsia (the latter two can be life threatening, even today).  One little gamete is nowhere near a 50% contribution.
The second is that pregnancy is often used as a means of control.  While there are many good men, good husbands and good fathers out there (if you're one of them, I should not have to explain that I'm Not Talking About You), there are also men who use both sex and pregnancy as a weapon.  It's called "reproductive coercion" and it's classified as a legitimate form of domestic violence.  In seven states, rapists can sue for visitation of any children conceived by their crime.  Even in long-term relationships, abusers have been known to sabotage birth control, prevent their partners from accessing it, and force them to carry children to term.  This puts women in a bind because the law now ties them to their abusers until the children reach the age of 18.  Abusers are granted visitation with their children (or in some cases, full custody--yes, it happens), and the former partner must continue to deal with the abusive partner during visitations, give the abuser say in the child's upbringing, live near the abuser to facilitate visitation, or even in some cases, pay child support to the abuser.  Or the victims stay with their partners, reasoning that the abuse only happens to them, and at least they are there to protect their children from the abusive parent.

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