Have a uterus and live in Alabama (or Georgia, or Ohio, or really anywhere in red-state America)? You no longer exist as a human being. Doesn’t even matter, really, if it’s a functioning uterus, because women outside of childbearing age have never counted anyway. No, the only thing that has mattered is having the parts that could make a baby and the imperative of using those parts to do just that. Not that, being a mere woman, you should be able to have affordable access to the health care that would keep those parts in tip-top shape.
This has been made crystal clear in Alabama, which has completely erased the only person that really matters in a pregnancy—the woman who makes the baby. The bill that just passed there even bans abortion in cases of rape and incest. It bars all “abortion and attempted abortion” by women “known” to be pregnant, and the only exception still erases the woman: “a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother.” Not the “pregnant woman,” but the “unborn child’s mother.” That’s undoubtedly because the forced-birthers drafting this bill want to make sure that the potential baby factory isn’t too damaged by one pregnancy to be forced into another.
A lead author of the bill, Republican state Sen. Clyde Chambliss, has apparently been designated chief explainer for it. This is the extent of his medical and scientific understanding of the measure, when he was asked what it means for a woman to be “known” to be pregnant. “I’m not trained medically, so I don’t know all the proper medical terminology and timelines and that sort of thing,” he said, “but from what I’ve read, what I’ve been told, there’s some period of time before you can know that a woman is pregnant.” That “period of time” is “respected” in the bill, he says. The woman has “to be ‘known to be pregnant.'” The bill, he says, “gives them that window of time. This bill does not change that window of time. Once that person is known to be pregnant, then this bill will take effect.”
Never mind that this would mean you could only get an abortion legally when you couldn’t technically get an abortion medically—like within six weeks of a missed period. Set that aside and let the language just sink in: “that woman” or “that person” is “known to be pregnant.” Not when a woman knows she is pregnant, but when someone in power determines the vessel is pregnant. Next up will be legislation authorizing officials to be in charge of monitoring women’s menstrual cycles. If Chambliss and team have a complete enough understanding of the female reproductive system to know how all that works. I wouldn’t take any bets on that, because he also said, about the timing of all this, “You can’t know that immediately. It takes some time for all those chromosomes and all that.” Chromosomes and all that. What does that mean? No one knows—certainly not Chambliss.
He’s not going to bother to figure it out. Because it doesn’t matter to him. Nothing matters but that fertilized egg staying in that vessel. “The egg in the lab doesn’t apply,” he said, answering a question about IVF and what rights embryos created in labs might have. “It’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.” It’s got nothing to do with upholding the rights of the unborn. It has everything to do with dehumanizing the woman.