29 October 2014

Tennessee Compulsory Pregnancy Amendment 1

Proposed Amendment 1 on the ballot in the State of Tennessee next week is not about protection or even regulation of anyone but rather about compulsory pregnancy.  Except, of course, for those very few rich enough to travel to places with less regressive laws and political officials less inclined to base pandering to a vocal minority and more inclined to serve the general welfare of the broad public.

The vague wording is deliberately intended to disguise the fact that its passage, if unchallenged or unsuccessfully challenged at the federal level, would enable politicians pandering to the worst in humanity the power to extend their reach into the innermost depths of the most intimate physical area of the body of each and every woman in the Greatest State in the Land of the Free.

Just a handful of cases from two countries with laws as strict as this abomination would enable serve to illustrate results not only possible but predictable and probable.

In El Salvador several months ago, Beatriz X, pregnant with a fetus known from ultrasound and X-ray to be ancephalic (without a brain), suffered to complications of a pregnancy that was non-viable in any case.  Rather than the doctors being allowed to make a medical decision based on medical grounds, Beatriz had to apply to the court for permission to terminate the nonviable pregnancy and thereby continue to live.  The court refused her. 

In the end, however, under circumstances only vaguely explained, the doctors did eventually perform a C-section to save her life.  The situation should never have entered the public realm at all but remained a private and personal matter between Beatriz and her doctors.

Also in El Salvador, Cristina Quintanilla was sentenced to 30 years for a miscarriage because authorities decided upon no medical or scientific basis whatsoever that she had aborted.  The same was true in the case of Maria Teresa Rivera, sentenced to 40 years for a miscarriage.

Across the pond in Ireland, a country with equally backward and regressive laws regarding women’s rights over their own bodies along with extensive human rights violations and abuses against women, Savita Halappanavar died at a University Hospital in Galway City almost exactly two years ago after being denied medical treatment necessary to save her life.  Savita developed complications with her pregnancy which resulted in a miscarriage, though the dead fetus was not expelled.  The staff a University Hospital Galway refused to abort the dead fetus because it had previously had a heartbeat. 

As a result, Savita developed septicemia which could not be treated even after the staff reluctantly performed the procedure that would have saved her life had it been carried out upon her arrival 21 October rather than three days later.  Her death on 28 October 2012 was a homicide by withholding of necessary emergency medical treatment.

More recently, a recent immigrant to Ireland from the Continent discovered herself pregnant resulting from having been raped by an older relative in her home country.  She immediately applied to have an abortion under the law passed in the aftermath of Savita’s homicide which allowed for abortion up to 20 weeks in certain limited circumstances, including rape, incest, and health of the mother.  She was 17 weeks along at the time.  Officials deliberately delayed until well past the 20 weeks point before handing down the determination that they could no longer consider ending the pregnancy because it was past the legal time.

Patient X, 18 years old, embarked upon a hunger and thirst strike, willing to die herself rather than be forced to carry the result of incestual rape to term.  Authorities jailed her, forced fed her, and eventually subjected her to a C-section against her will at 25 weeks.

Recurrence of cases such as these here in Tennessee if Amendment 1 passes and stands are not only possible nor merely probable but inevitable.

If you vote on no other question on the ballot on Tuesday, 4 November, I urge each and every one of you registered to vote No on Amendment 1 and prevent compulsory pregnancy from coming to the Greatest State in the Land of the Free.