(Warning: Precious spoilers follow)
Walking my dogs in my scarily conservative neighborhood yesterday, I came across a “God is Pro-Life” bumper-sticker. I don’t think I have seen this exact permutation before. I have seen lots of messages of the “don’t be a baby-killer” or “choose life” variety, but claiming mainline knowledge of god’s ‘pro-life’ stance in bumper sticker form was a new one.
If this god entity is indeed pro-life, wouldn’t that mean that s/he would be pro all life, including the life of the mother? So when the mother’s life is put at risk by carrying a pregnancy to term, which life does god choose? If the well-being of the mother’s life and the lives of her existing children will be threatened by carrying the pregnancy to term, does god choose the life of a few cells over and above the lives of several already existing humans?
I get that there is a lot of debate over when “life” begins in utero, but can anyone rightly claim a pregnant female is not also a life worth choosing and protecting?
These thoughts make me think of the film Precious and how abortion is never mentioned as an option in that film – indeed, the baby is presented as sort of saving Precious’s life. However, we must think of the context in which Precious has her children. Both are a result her father raping her with her mother’s knowledge, and both are used by Precious’s mother in her attempts to continue her welfare payments (another problematic storyline that furthers the ‘welfare queen’ stereotype). In this instance, the life of the (future) children is chosen and the livelihood of Precious’s mom is protected – but what of Precious herself? If not for the intervention of teachers and social workers, her life would have continued to be decidedly NOT ‘pro-life’ but all about abuse, sexual assault, poverty, and mental anguish. Moreover, the film, like the wider ‘pro-life’ stance, glosses over the complexity of whose lives society deems worth saving. As this post points out, the film “invisibilized patriarchy, cast the system as a hero and not an actor responsible for the conditions of oppression in which Precious lived and survived.”
Such oppressive conditions, sadly, are not only the stuff of films. Many young females will be raped, sexually assaulted, physically and mentally abused. Many will become pregnant not by choice but by force. Many more will become pregnant due to lack of access to (let alone education about) contraception. Is this god so often referred to by those wishing to curtail women’s reproductive choices ‘pro-life’ when it comes to these females?
The hypocrisy of claiming to be ‘pro-life’ while ignoring the lives of females the world over whose lives are harmed by patriarchy and its attendant systems of racism, classism, sexism and too many other isms to mention is just too much to swallow. When will this battle, fought on the front of the female body, ever end?