It’s hump day, which means Arran is going to see the vet for chemo. Bill is coming home this afternoon. Hopefully, he’ll get home early enough to take the dog to the vet. However, I have my doubts I’ll get that lucky, as I look outside and watch the snow fall. Yes, that’s right… on the Ides of March in 2023, it’s snowing. It’ll probably be gone in an hour or so. For now, it’s sticking.
So… I’m sitting here now, wondering what to write about today. And I noticed that my friend, Patti, left a very insightful comment on yesterday’s post. I want to give her proper credit for making the leap that I didn’t quite make yesterday, when I wrote about Republican Representative Rob Harris of South Carolina proposing that women who have abortions be subject to the death penalty, and a new bill proposed in Massachusetts that would offer prisoners the chance to donate organs for time off their sentences.
Patti wrote this, and I had a big AHA moment (bolded emphasis mine)…
At the beginning of these anti-choice laws popping up the last few years I stated it was a matter of bodily autonomy. You can’t force someone to donate organs or blood no matter who needs it – you can’t even take it from a corpse without permission of them prior to death or from a family member afterward. These two issues are actually entangled as they are inching more and more away from bodily autonomy and being able to compel people to give up an organ or blood to someone who “deserves” it.
What’s even freakier to me is that these are two very different states. South Carolina is extremely conservative and Republican. Massachusetts is famously liberal. Rob Harris, who authored the South Carolina bill advocating for executing women who have abortions, is a Spartanburg Republican who happens to be a registered nurse. Representative Carlos Gonzalez, of Springfield. Massachusetts, a Democrat, apparently worked as a social worker, although I haven’t seen evidence of him having a social work degree.
If Gonzalez doesn’t have a social work degree, he’s technically NOT a social worker— in the same way that someone who didn’t go to medical school or nursing school isn’t a physician or a nurse. I hasten to add, I don’t know what he studied in school. I’ve casually looked, but the information isn’t coming up easily this morning, and I’m not willing to spend more time looking for it right now.
The point is, both Harris and Gonzalez (especially if he is a social worker), should have more respect for the self-determination of all people. It makes no sense to me, whatsoever, that a nurse would think and outwardly state that executing people who have abortions is an appropriate course of action. I would hope and expect that nurses, above all, should seek to preserve health and life. And when death inevitably occurs, they should have a compassionate attitude.
Nurses (and social workers) are in a unique position to see the many complex situations that would cause a person to consider having an abortion. Yes, sometimes they’re done for the sake of convenience, which could also be the safest and wisest course of action. I studied social work and public health and worked in South Carolina, and I have an idea of what people who are unexpectedly pregnant can be up against, even if the person has some means.
A young woman who is just launching her career, isn’t involved with her partner, and doesn’t have the financial resources to take care of a baby, should have the option to terminate the pregnancy if that’s what she deems best. Being pregnant has a huge effect on a person’s life and their finances. So, allowing a termination early in the pregnancy is probably a lot kinder than forcing that young woman to endure pregnancy and choose to either give the baby up for adoption, or forgo her own financial security. Yes, I would hope it would also mean she’d be more careful about contraception, but even people who are careful about contraception can experience failures.
I might feel differently if I saw evidence that Mr. Harris advocates providing financial resources for pregnant people. Unfortunately, all I’ve seen from him is a line about personal responsibility, and how the unborn must be “protected”. Does that just mean forcing the woman to gestate? Or is he also proposing making sure that the pregnant person has housing, food, medical care, reliable transportation, help finding work and affordable child care, and all of the other things needed to have a healthy pregnancy and safe delivery? I notice he makes no provisions for cases of rape or incest. Does he also think a ten year old pregnant child should be forced to birth or risk the death penalty? People like Harris never seem to have an answer to those questions, do they?
Say what you want about how dystopian Gilead is in The Handmaid’s Tale, but at least the pregnant women in that story get what they need to stay healthy. In our increasingly dystopian country– the United States, so called land of the free– we don’t offer any help to the people some politicians want to force to give birth under penalty of execution if they don’t. It’s sick and WRONG, and I am so very weary of MEN like Rob Harris trying to legislate morality and impose draconian penalties on pregnant people. Mr. Harris will NEVER have to face an unintended pregnancy or the direct consequences related to pregnancy. He should sit the fuck down, and shut the fuck up! I hope he loses his nursing license! He’s not fit for the profession.
You’d think the Democrats would be more mindful about ethics. But Carlos Gonzalez, who was evidently influenced by his dear friend with kidney disease on dialysis, seems to want to compel incarcerated people to donate their organs. I know, on the surface, it sounds like the incarcerated people would have a choice. Maybe that’s how it would start out, anyway. However, Mr. Gonzalez doesn’t seem to realize that offering desperate people a deal that gives them a year off their prison sentences in exchange for a kidney is, frankly, putting us on a slippery slope. How long would it take before that idea would extend to people on welfare, for instance.
I like the way Patti put it in her comment.
“…they are inching more and more away from bodily autonomy and being able to compel people to give up an organ or blood to someone who ‘deserves’ it.“
Politicians tend to be powerful, influential people. Mr. Gonzalez would like to save his friend’s life. He explains:
“He’s a father of three children and is in stage 4 of kidney failure,” González said, adding, “I love my friend and I’m praying through this legislation that we can extend the chances of life for him and any other person in a similar life-or-death situation.”
Would Mr. Gonzalez feel the same way about someone who wasn’t a father of three? How about someone who is single? What about a person who is homeless or mentally ill? What about someone with Down Syndrome, or another genetic disease? How about a prisoner? How about someone like Jared Fogle?
What exactly would make a person “deserving” of receiving a prisoner’s donated kidney, bone marrow, or blood? Would they have to be a “good” person? Who gets to decide who warrants getting a kidney? What will the criteria be?
And what are the proposed standards for allowing prisoners to donate? Will they get counseling from a lawyer? A psychologist? How about a physician who will talk to them about potential drawbacks to donating, rather than just assessing their health and suitability for donating? Isn’t a vital organ worth more than sixty days off a prison sentence? Isn’t it worth more than a year?
At least Mr. Gonzalez uses the word “love” when he proposes his bill. Rob Harris just sounds hateful toward women. He says:
”We have a problem with abortion, we don’t respect all life,” Harris said. “So, what my bill uniquely does is that it protects all life by defining life at conception. We have to ask ourselves as a culture, whether we believe life begins at conception or not. The ramifications of that are the same for anybody else who would take another life.”
Harris added that the bill’s intent was not to subject a mother who undergoes an abortion to the death penalty, but to save babies.
”The state has become an abortion destination, so what are we doing to stop abortion?”
When asked about whether the media’s focus on aborting mothers potentially receiving the death penalty weakens his bill or the chances of the bill passing, Harris said, “The laws are already on the books about murder, and all that stuff. I’m not arguing to change any of those laws. The bill is forcing our culture to decide, is this really life inside?”
It blows my mind that Rob Harris seems to imply that abortion is the biggest issue threatening human life in 2023. We can’t even protect the already born babies from the gun toting nuts that his party actively courts. We can’t even stop six year olds from shooting their teachers. We can’t stop a virus from killing people before their time.
Rob Harris dares to suggest that the way to make life better for everyone is to execute women who seek abortions and don’t want to have to explain why they want or need one to people like him? I would be much more impressed with Rob Harris if he was more concerned about the health and safety of people who have already been born and whose lives are being threatened every day by violent people with guns. And regardless of what his “intent” is, when he presents his ridiculous idea that women who have abortions should be executed, the fact is, presenting those kinds of bills can have terrible consequences for real people.
I really think Rob Harris needs to kicked out of the nursing profession. He clearly doesn’t really care about people, especially women. He doesn’t work for half of the population of South Carolina. He’s apparently for conservative men with money, and keeping women and people of color at a lower level. And his bill, regardless of his “stated intent”, displays a disturbing desire to punish and control women!
As for Gonzalez… I think his heart may be in the right place for people like his friend with kidney disease. However, as a politician, he’s supposed to be serving all people, including those whom he may not think “deserve” a donated organ. And yes, that means he serves prisoners, too. I think his bill does prisoners (who are still human beings) a disservice, but I also think that precedent could ultimately take our society in a direction it really shouldn’t be going. I don’t know how Gonzalez feels about abortion, but as Patti rightly points out, his idea isn’t so different than Harris’s draconian “pro-life” bullshit (for the unborn, anyway).
Our society is rapidly turning into a place that is blatantly just for the “haves”, and not for the “have nots”… Either way, the people who will be the most negatively affected by either of these proposed bills are going to be the poor, people of color, women, and people who have made mistakes. Those who are lucky enough to have money or connections won’t have to worry at all. And that’s just wrong and immoral, especially in the so-called “land of the free”. Both of these legislators from different states and opposing political sides need to reset their moral compasses. Likewise, voters need to wake up and take notice, and stop tolerating these extremist ideas. We all need to come together to make life better for everyone, not just the so-called “deserving”.