Pronatalism, Bringing The Stupid Once Again

Health organizations and a smattering of opinionators were a couple weeks behind me in seeing the necessary reaction — and a potential silver lining — to the Zika outbreak in the Americas. Unless you have been living under a fairly large rock, you know this is a mosquito-borne, flu-ish sort of affliction — sometimes silent and symptom-free — which appears to be behind a rash of microcephaly in Brazil. Pregnant women get it, maybe don’t even know they’ve got it, and some months later produce an infant that will essentially be nothing much more than a deformed piece of breathing meat for the rest of its life, which will probably be short.

Brazil’s reaction to the spectre of this level of sickening waste and expense was interesting. They told women not to get pregnant for two years. Other governments in the region followed suit. It took until the last couple days for anyone to say loudly: How the hell do you just tell women not to get pregnant in an area where there is little or no birth control available, some countries punish abortion with a 50 year jail sentence, and in some countries — like El Salvador – rape is rampant?

The silver lining part is that the United Nations finally said something louder than a peep about making contraception and abortion available to women in Latin American nations. Whatever it takes, okay? Apparently, up to this point, the suffering of women who have no choice about getting pregnant, and the sheer stupidity of unchecked population growth, were not enough to get the UN to make a sustained noise. A piece in Newsweek reminds us that abortion was always bad wrong illegal bad girls get them bad bad bad in the United States until we had a blast of German measles that produced another rash of deaf children. Hey, women enduring pregnancies they didn’t choose were invisible; who cared about them? But oh dear, defective children, terrible, terrible. Suddenly abortion was on the table. Or at least on a table other than the kitchen table.  So maybe, just maybe, governments will get the picture in the countries affected by Zika. After all, if you see women as factories, you don’t want product quality going down, right?

But anyway. Whatever it takes.

The one thing that still makes me spit is the sheer weirdness of of remarks by a spokesperson for the Pan American Health Organization, as a coda to her promotion of contraceptive access:

Her organization would never tell a woman not to get pregnant—”It’s a woman’s right” to choose when to have a baby, she says.

Okay, what the fcking fck? There’s a disease spreading “explosively,” it causes the birth of defective children, and you’re going to make a mealy-mouthed statement that we can’t tell women to refrain from having any until the thing is under control? Is the idea that reproduction = Good Thing Joyous Thing Wonderful Gift From God so deeply entrenched that no one wants to say NO, DON’T?

We tell people not to drink and drive. We tell them not to smoke. We tell them not to have unprotected sex. We quarantined people with suspected Ebola. But someone who speaks for a health organization isn’t willing to say “don’t reproduce in the middle of an epidemic of birth defects?” Is no one willing to point out that a loud NO, which prevents a crushing burden of problems and misery, always, always, always trumps a namby-pamby, delusionally optimistic Yes?

I see this over and over. Organizations that exist because women need the means not to have children feel they have to beef up their cred by making speeches about defending the right to have them (in a world drowning in people). Legislators always know they can come across as great humanists by getting their britches in a twist over some long-past incident of mandated sterilization, even if it clearly involved people who demonstrably had no business reproducing. Even the great-grandmother of all champions of contraception is called Planned Parenthood.  

There’s some hope that governments will see sense, at last, in freeing women to use what science and medicine have made available. Come on, governments and doctors and NGOs: act like people who know better, and stop talking about the right to strike a match until the gas leak has been checked and all the fumes are out of the house.

Maybe by the time that happens, whole nations of women will have realized that there is something more to life than self-replication. And will refuse to go back. I can hope.

10 thoughts on “Pronatalism, Bringing The Stupid Once Again

  1. Pingback: Pronatalism, Bringing The Stupid Once Again | DHS News

  2. I have a lot of friends who get upset at the idea of killing a fetus because it is a human being. And I get that. It is a blueprint for a unique being that will never exist again. Who knows who this blueprint might have turned out to be? BUT COME ON ALREADY. We can’t even take care of the kids who are already here… or if we “can,” we just don’t. I’ve noticed that the pro-lifers have been pretty quiet about the Zika problem.

    • If you take the logic back far enough, you get into Monty Python’s “every sperm is sacred” territory — that is, even uncombined gametes are unique.

      I think of it, in a way, as human hoarding. Nature purges fetuses that can’t live oftener than we know. Animals who bear young that seem unlikely to survive abandon or even eat them. Human beings, who given opportunity will, if sufficiently disturbed in their minds, live in ever-expanding volumes of precious rubbish, also, horrifically, hoard animals they can’t take care of, and some people seem to think that every sex act must also be given the chance to become a fullgrown human creature whom we will put… where again?

      And that’s before you even get to the issue of a defect requiring lifelong care at horrible expense for something that’s neither a good human nor a good animal and has nothing to give back except in someone’s sentimental imagination. Ruining one or more lives that could be useful and enjoyable for the sake of nothing. In this case, the prospect is of imposing that on people who already have almost no resources. I think the pro-life crowd realizes wisely that it’s pretty hard to stand up there with your bare face hanging out and tell a poor family without a pot to piss in that they have to use themselves up, including neglecting their other children’s needs, caring for an imbecile.

      • Yes. I still think of the polar bear/ringed seal documentary I watched years ago. It was fascinating and shows how nature works the way “god” intended. If the mom bear senses that she and the cubs will starve to death, she will eat them, which gives her, presumably, a bit of a chance to reproduce again and continue on genetically. She isn’t “thinking” about this; she just does it because she is programmed to via evolution. The dad bear has already starved to death, but has the legacy of these two cubs, which will continue his genes, if she doesn’t eat them. We, the viewer, are hoping she doesn’t have to ~ which means we are hoping there are enough seals for her to kill. That’s another story… the seals are cute, but this story has been filmed in a way that we are rooting for the bears. Hmm, not sure why I thought this was relevant!

    • I have always understood that she was genuinely feeble minded. If that was an omission in my understanding of the case, it comes via the arguments I have seen in various references to the effect that “it was wrong to sterilize her just because she was feeble-minded,” including a bill for reparations introduced by my own State delegate. The bill called for cash sums to be paid to those who had been sterilized under a policy of preventing the mentally deficient from reproducing, which as policy seems like eminent sense to me and hardly the grounds for hand-wringing. (Laws can be misused, but that is grounds for clarifying them, not taking them off the books and paying reparations in every case the law was invoked.) It was a zany across-the-aisle collaboration between an overzealous liberal do-gooder and a far-right fetus-lover. If the diagnosis was biased in the Buck case, I am prepared to stand corrected about that case only.

      • I think you need to look more into how many women were institutionalised because their sexuality caused someone – a husband, parents, officials – disquiet. Carrie Buck is a notorious case of that. I’m really surprised you don’t know this.

        • I can’t know every single case in which the dynamic you mention was a motive (though I am quite aware that “insanity” was alleged when women were merely, well, “uppity”). But every context in which I encountered the Buck decision referenced– three or four times at least, and more recently in relation to the reparations bill I mentioned — seemed clear that it was a case of retardation making an individual incompetent to consent. Wikipedia has the reputation of being pretty reliable, so I can accept correction on that count. Sterilizing someone merely to derail the narrative in a rape case is, as I said, misuse of the law and compounding of an assault. But in any case, that makes it beside the point of the original discussion — that some people, for sentimental or whatever weird reasons, feel called on to defend the idea that mental defectives should be free to have children ’cause apparently having children is a giant good that trumps everything else such as common sense. If Buck wasn’t retarded, she wasn’t, and is therefore the wrong example — merely the one I have seen cited more than once as an “unjust” sterilization without any assertion that she was mentally normal. I could remove the link from the post, but I think this clarifying discussion suffices.

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