Tag Archives: providing for pregnant women

Coverture and the Criminalization of Pregnancy

“…You might think it would be hard to find someone who falls into the “pro-criminalizing pregnant women” camp. Sadly, you’d be wrong. A dangerous bill​ has wormed its way through the Tennessee legislature that would allow prosecutors to bring criminal assault charges against women who use drugs during pregnancy.

In all seriousness, it’s encouraging to see Cosmo publish a thorough take-down of this bill. It’s a sign that deep misgivings about the needless expansion of our criminal justice system are now so widely held that they’ve reached pop culture salience. For decades, this country has ratcheted up the number of crimes on the books and the length of time we lock people up, pushing the number of people under correctional control to about 7 million. Many of these people would be better served outside of the criminal justice system entirely.” (1)

“In the first legislative victory of its kind, the Tennessee Senate and House have now passed a measure that would allow criminal assault charges to be brought against Tennessee women who use drugs during their pregnancy. Now the legislation heads to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam (R) for either his signature or his veto.

The bill allows women to avoid prosecution if they enroll in a rehab program and complete it, but critics say it could actually keep drug-addicted pregnant women from seeking the treatment they want and need. The law, if passed, would be the first of its kind in the nation.

“Women who are addicted will no longer go to their prenatal health appointments or if they do go, they won’t be honest with their doctors because they’re afraid to end up in jail,” Glass told Cosmopolitan.com. She also noted that the medical community has rejected this bill.

The American College of Obstetricians Gynecologists (ACOG) notes that criminalization has proved to be ineffective and it urges physicians to oppose legislation that punishes women for substance abuse during pregnancy. ACOG also decisively states that drug enforcement policies that deter women from seeking prenatal care are “contrary to the welfare of the mother and the fetus.”

This bill says nothing of fathers’ responsibility for fetal health, as this bill would only allow for punishment of the pregnant woman. The legal blame for NAS falls solely on the pregnant woman.” (2)

April 29: Tennessee governor sings SB 1391 despite widespread calls for a veto and objections from doctors.

It is an obvious fact of life that only women can get pregnant and everything the mother does and the environment she is in affects the fetus. The nine months spent in the womb affect us across our entire lifespans. Some women have problems and addictions that affect their pregnancy and unborn babies and now our government seeks to lay criminal penalties on the mother-and only the mother- for the result of her pregnancy.( And this is not the only case like this I have seen in the past few years such as punishing women for miscarriages if they act “irresponsible.”) Addiction during pregnancy is bad enough by itself but what I want to know is where is the father’s responsibility for fetal health if he wishes rights to the child the same as the mother? I believe we have a real and true problem of male irresponsibility in society today. In the past men were expected to be married to the mother in order to be legally recognized as the father of the child. As well, they were the guardians of their wives. This lessened after coverture was officially ended in the late 19th century but married women had many protections up until the 1970s and many aspects of coverture remained in law even holding the husband responsible for his wife’s actions to a certain extent.

Today there are no such protections. A sex-blind society is the rule today. But the only problem is that it is unrealistic. Men and women are not on equal terms no matter what crazy gender-neutralized laws we as a society can think up of. Now we are going to throw pregnant women in jail for being on drugs and giving birth to babies with NAS (neonatal abstinence syndrome). The responsibility for the outcome of a pregnancy falls entirely onto the woman as she is the only one who can become pregnant. Men may not get a say in abortion but they still get rights to the resulting children when they are born, even if illegitimate they are granted the same legal rights as the mother (a major historical shift of the past 40 years). (I would consider married men getting veto power in abortion if the marriage placed the wife under coverture where the husband was responsible for her as in the past). I can just see this now. Father isn’t in the picture, mother is drug-addicted. She gives birth and gets thrown in jail then daddy comes walking up playing dad of the year and takes full custody of the child while mom takes all the blame. And of course the GOP is right there saying “there’s no war on women.” But there is a war on women that’s been going on since coverture was repealed.

Something is wrong here. A drug-addicted pregnant woman needs help. It should be the father’s responsibility to make sure that she gets the help that she needs and the woman’s responsibility to submit to being taken care of and taking care of her child. Since obviously men cannot get pregnant traditionally in order to be responsible for fetal health the father is held responsible for the well-being of the mother. Take care of the mother and you take care of the child as women and children are inseparable through the entire reproductive process. This also makes sure she can nurse the child as well. But today women must “stand on their own two feet” take all the responsibilities of citizenship and be treated as equal to men in our feminist and egalitarian world. It’s a nice fantasy but one that never quite pans out in reality. Men are not required to take appropriate responsibility for women and children and can leave them completely on their own with no concern for what conditions they are living in or if the mother even has food to eat or medical care.

Another thing is women who have their children taken from them at birth because they were drug addicted. Most are required to get off the drugs and to get a job to prove they are responsible. But how about get treatment, be married and stay home to care for the child? That seems like a much better and more logical solution but nobody cares about mothers actually caring for their children or ensuring their children are legitimate and look at the damage around us as a result. If she doesn’t marry the father he won’t grow up and learn responsibility. She and her child will probably never be stable and secure or ever get out of poverty or unsafe living conditions. Marriage must matter to us as a society and coverture is an important and long-forgotten aspect of it that places women under guardianship.

Another thing that bothers me is pregnant women in jail. If she is not violent and/or dangerous then where is the father to take responsibility for her? Dating back thousands of years and in numerous civilizations marriage erased a woman’s previous debts and obligations and she became the responsibility of her husband (but, of course, she was required to accept guardianship and her husband’s authority and sexual regulation). Women are not men and have special circumstances in life. Men’s duties must be to protect women. Women are becoming more masculine and more violent and aggressive and it showcases the need of men to intervene and be authoritative once again so that women must act appropriate as ladies and accept male guardianship to protect them and their families.

Related: “When Women Act Bad”

Advertisements

The Traditional Family is the Solution to Abortion

I was looking at abortion statistics (source) from 2013 yesterday and this is what I found:

Financial reasons came first (40%) as a reason why women had abortions. After that came relationship problems and then issues like it not “being the right time” to have a baby because a woman wanted to focus on a career or college.

“A 21-year old pointed to a number of reasons why she felt the timing of her pregnancy was wrong “Mainly I didn’t feel like I was ready yet – didn’t feel financially, emotionally ready. Due date was at the same time as my externship at school. Entering the workforce with a newborn would be difficult – I just wasn’t ready yet.” A small proportion of women described not having enough time or feeling too busy to have a baby (2%).”

And as for the relationship issues:

“Nearly one third (31%) of respondents gave partner- related reasons for seeking an abortion. Six percent mentioned partners as their only reason for seeking abortion. Partner related reasons included not having a “good” or stable relationship with the father of the baby (9%), wanting to be married first (8%), not having a supportive partner (8%), being with the “wrong guy” (6%), having a partner who does not want the baby (3%), and having an abusive partner (3%).”

Some more women cited health reasons, some cited that they already had to take care of other children and didn’t want more. Still, even more cited that having a baby would interfere with future “opportunities” (read: career). Some of their explanations are as follows:

“One in five women (20%) reported that they chose abortion because they felt a baby at this time would interfere with their future goals and opportunities in general (5%) or, more specifically, with school (14%) or career plans (7%). Usually the reasons were related to the perceived difficulty of continuing to advance educational or career goals while raising a baby: “I didn’t think I’d be able to support a baby and go to college and have a job.” states an 18-year old respondent in high school. A 21-year-old woman in college with no children explains that she “Still want[s] to be able to do things like have a good job, finish school, and be stable.” Similarly, a 26-year old desiring to go back to college explains “I wanted to finish school. I’d been waiting a while to get into the bachelor’s program and I finally got it.” Another woman explains “I feel like I need to put myself first and get through college and support myself.” As a 21-one-year old seeking a college degree points out, “I’m trying to graduate from college and I’m going to cooking school in August and I have a lot of things going for me and I can’t take care of a kid by myself.” Others spoke to the inability to take time off work to raise the child.” A 21-one-year old holding two part-time jobs and raising two children states: “I wouldn’t be able to take the time off work. My work doesn’t offer maternity leave and I have to work [to afford to live] here. If I took time off I would lose my job so there’s just no way.”’

More cited things such as not being “prepared” to have a baby. Still others cited other issues that didn’t fit into the category like not wanting kids at all or legal issues.

It seems to me that the problems of a career, not being able to support a child or take off of work and other financial issues (as well as legal issues if we had coverture) would be solved by having a strong belief that fathers should be breadwinners. It also seems that the relationship issues could be solved by a strong legitimacy principle (that women shouldn’t have babies out of wedlock and should marry if pregnant, even if not the biological father) and a sexual double standard.

Feminist responses to these issues are more abortions (or subsidized ones by the state), paid maternity leave and anti-sex discrimination laws. Conservatives’ answers are to do away with welfare and tell women to keep their legs closed and pay for their own birth control already. Neither of these solutions are likely to help women in the slightest. Now that the feminist movement is over every one sees that Ok, women have equality now so let’s forget about the women. If anything let’s make everything more “fair” to men now since apparently things have gone too far to favor women. Yet the main theme is still egalitarian. It’s still leaving women on their own to fend for themselves. You don’t see conservatives advocating changing existing marriage and divorce laws to reflect traditional rights and responsibilities between the sexes. The only groups out there looking to protect marriage or change divorce laws are still operating in egalitarian mode (even antifeminist groups).

Furthermore, if conservatives take away women’s right to abortion we are going to have even greater problems as now what will these women do? In the past a man could even be made to support his closely related female relatives beyond just his wife and daughters and women even had such protections that an unwed woman coming to a hospital suffering from an illegal abortion would be questioned about the father and he could even be arrested and thrown in jail (1) (I’m sure feminists left out that little piece of history when exclaiming how society looked down on and slut-shamed single mothers- which they did of course). Now women have no protections in the slightest as they are treated and held to the same responsibilities as men, even though women are not men and don’t even understand half of the time the reality of the current legal climate.

Women had all kinds of protections to force men to be responsible for their actions towards women and children and women could count on support one way or another even if it was just marrying for convenience. But now what will women have? If conservatives wanted to protect unborn babies they could start by protecting the mother and teaching young women that a career should not be number one in their lives but prepare them to be caretakers of their children and homemakers and as well teach men they must man up and accept responsibility for women and children.

Is it any wonder that statistics show that stay at home mothers are more likely to be independent and not lean either liberal or conservative? (2) Could it be that a lot of traditional women like myself are sick of today’s conservatives? I personally think the only thing worse than a Democrat is a Republican. The traditional family solves the issues of a woman not being able to financially provide for a baby, or not being able to stay home or not being ‘ready’ because she wants to focus on a career or she doesn’t feel mature enough. Patriarchy tells a woman her child cannot be a bastard. It is harsh, yes, (but then again isn’t life always harsh for those who don’t follow what society deems proper?) but if we look back through history we see that very few babies were born out of wedlock when there was high stigma on illegitimacy and even then those mothers may have married shortly thereafter. Patriarchy puts the obligation to provide on the father. With him as unquestionable provider and authority the woman’s worries of financial support go away. Her problems of not being able to stay home go away. Her worries of not being mature enough or ready go away.

Once again, I don’t argue whether abortion should be legal or not because of the ethical and medical considerations involved. My focus is on the realities of life and gender issues. If society wanted to help families and unborn babies, they would focus on separate rights and responsibilities between the sexes instead of just saying we’re all equal now and everyone fend for themselves and fight each other when they think one party has a 1% greater chance of being a victim of something or not getting something they want.

Discrimination is the Solution, Not the Problem

So, I get an e-mail from the American Civil Liberties Union last night asking me to help them and some other women’s organizations pass what is called the “Pregnant Workers Fairness Act.” Now, I’ve been aware of this legislation and the ACLU’s involvement for some time. However, there is something majorly wrong with this piece of legislation (as well as a lot of the very liberal legislation they push for).

The problem is that men and women are not on equal terms. They never have been and they never will be. The simple fact of life is that women get pregnant. That’s just the way life is. Our laws used to make many clear distinctions based upon sex and for very logical reasons. Now, sex discrimination is highly illegal. And what do we have as a result? Problems-and lots of them.

The simple fact of the matter is that it is unreasonable for us to go and rearrange our military, burden businesses to accommodate the differences between the sexes and reorder society just to make everything between the sexes “equal” when it is not nor ever will be equal in the first place.

Do pregnant women need to be taken care of? Absolutely. This is without question. Women have the unique task given to them by a higher power (whether you believe that to be God or evolution, whatever) to bear children. It is a biological fact of life. Women get pregnant and when they are pregnant they need medical care, nutritious food, a home to live in and a stress free environment free from toxins and other dangers. The nine months spent in the womb are the most critical times of anyones life. A woman’s well-being during pregnancy is critical. If she is stressed, if she doesn’t have adequate nutrition or medial care it will not only effect her and potentially lead to illness or death but it will also affect the child, possibly causing developmental problems or even death to the child or complications. Therefore it is absolutely critical that pregnant women have all of their basic needs met.

However, it should not be the responsibility of the woman to provide these things for herself nor the responsibility of businesses to go out of their way and accommodate her while she is pregnant. The problem is not discrimination but the lack of discrimination. Plain and simple, this is why the traditional family unit is important and this is why legitimacy is important. There needs to be a bargaining power for both sexes to ensure that marriage occurs. We need a workforce that will favor men over women in hiring and in pay that way men in turn can do their job of providing for and protecting women. We also need laws to protect the sanctity of the traditional family and legitimacy and laws that hold both men and women to traditional responsibilities- taking care of the home and the children for women and financial support for men.