Tuesday, February 23, 2010

On corporeal punishment

Okay, so I'll let Think Progress set this up for you:
On Thursday, Virginia State Delegate Bob Marshall (R) spoke at a press conference against state funding for Planned Parenthood. He blasted the organization for supporting a woman's right to choose, saying that God punishes women who have had abortions by giving them disabled children:
The number of children who are born subsequent to a first abortion with handicaps has increased dramatically. Why? Because when you abort the first born of any, nature takes its vengeance on the subsequent children,” said Marshall, a Republican.
“In the Old Testament, the first born of every being, animal and man, was dedicated to the Lord. There’s a special punishment Christians would suggest.”

I'm not going to even bother refuting his actual statement, because it's so completely asinine in every respect. And I'm not going to discuss at any length the complete insensitivity to parents of disabled children who are dealing with the stress of raising a child with special needs and who love those children desperately, because that's obvious to anyone who has half of a functioning heart and a sliver of a conscience.

What really jumped out at me was the fact that once again, someone from the "party of life" characterized a baby as a punishment for a woman's sins. Traditionally, it's been a somewhat abstract approach, where a woman commits the sin of gettin' down, and her "punishment" (usually just characterized as "the normal consequence") is the shame of pregnancy and the burden of responsibility for a human--or what most people call "parenthood." If you didn't want a kid, you shouldn't have fucked! That's the price of sex, slattern! That baby is going to be your millstone and the constant reminder of your sins against... whatever. God, or society, or something.

This time, we have a wackaloon taking it further, saying in so many words that these children are actual, literal punishments for women's sins. They aren't people. They aren't much-loved family members. They aren't precious lives worthy of care and protection. Fuck that noise. This is what you get, whore. Don't you wish you'd kept your damn legs closed (or at least accepted your just punishment then)? Now God hates you, and he's sending down his divine vengeance in the form of a human being with thoughts and feelings, whom you're expected to view as penance for your transgressions. If you'd done right by the Lord, you'd have had a good "normal" child, but instead you get this worthless broken one.

I'm not by any means trying to make Bob Marshall the spokesperson for his party; he's obviously a member (if a member in a position of some prominence) of the loony fringe. But his statement is another example of the conservative/Evangelical view that a child isn't a person to love and care for but an object of shame and a seven-pound, eight-ounce weapon to keep your sins ever in your mind. An object, a weapon, isn't alive, and a "culture of life" that sees a baby as those things isn't a culture of life at all.

Every baby should be loved and wanted, even those conceived unintentionally, even those with disabilities. No woman should be forced to bear a child that would be seen--that should be seen, according to conservatives--as a punishment. And no woman should be told that the child she chose to have is actually nothing more than God's divine wrath.

(h/t Pandagon)

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