The Price of Enshrining Fiction Into Law

Sorry to shoot this one your way on a Sunday morning, but if I’m going to be made ill by the news, then so are you.

In the United States, pregnant women have fewer rights than the fertilized cells they’re carrying. Don’t believe me?

Based on the belief that he had an obligation to give a fetus a chance for life, a judge in Washington, D.C., ordered a critically ill 27-year-old woman who was 26 weeks pregnant to undergo a cesarean section, which he understood might kill her. Neither the woman nor her baby survived.

If this were a single story, it could be dismissed as a horrifying one-off and a criminal lapse of judgement by the judge. I wouldn’t be writing this if that were the case.

No, instead, the U.S., and many southern states in particular, have created laws declaring that “unborn persons” are the same as actual children. No one really believes that fetuses are children; they’re just trying to outlaw abortions without violating Roe v. Wade. For example, while harming a fetus is a criminal act, I wouldn’t recommend trying to declare one as a dependent on your taxes.

There are consequences to writing untruths into law. Women have lost autonomy over their own lives and bodies due to this fiction. If I were cynical, and I am, I might go so far as to suggest that these laws are about trying to roll back women’s rights than about protecting the unborn. After all, once they’re born, no one seems to give a damn about them (and yes, every word is a different link).

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