At Huffington Post, writer Anita Almendrala has published the results of a survey on American attitudes about miscarriage, and they show that many people still believe in old wives’ tales about it. For instance, people think that it’s uncommon, and therefore a shameful result of misbehavior, or caused by stress or physical activity, or related to the use of birth control. That last point of utterly unscientific garbage has been especially popularized by the ideologically-driven cable TV show 19 Kids and Counting, in which Michelle and Jim Bob Duggar race to create the world’s largest family of brainless zealots.
But the points in Alemendra’s article which drew my eye were the following numbers: about one in five American pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, meaning that roughly one million American fetuses die every year before they are ever born. That’s a staggering figure, and it meets or exceeds even the most deranged estimates from forced-birth activists of the number of abortions performed in America every year.
And unlike a voluntary abortion at a clinic, miscarriage most often affects women who are actually trying to have children. In other words, if we accept the forced-birth lobby’s strict definition of any conceived embryo as a full human whose destruction is murder, then the god of the activists outside the clinics — and NOT Planned Parenthood — is the world’s number one killer of innocent unborn children.
We’ve actually known about this for a long time. Statistically, the medical consensus is that somewhere between three-eighths and half of all fertilized zygotes are never born regardless of human actions. Most of these are simply rejected by the woman’s body, usually without the woman even knowing she was pregnant; according to Almendrala’s sources, about sixty percent of miscarriages are due to chromosomal abnormalities in the fetus. Obviously, if nature gets it wrong so much of the time, anyone who believes that a divine being is responsible for the ‘design’ and everyday operation of the natural world must necessarily accept that their god is culpable for these statistics, too. Maybe it’s time to blockade the churches instead of the clinics?
Of course, there are forced-birth activists who are fully aware of these facts and have incorporated them into their sadistic world-view. Regarding their god’s randomized decision-making — ‘you get a baby, you don’t’ — as a mysterious, inexplicable test of faith, forced-birth activists rationalize these widespread personal tragedies as ‘his will’ and other such nonsense. Yet it doesn’t take long to expose the double-standard at work: Fox News psychiatrist Keith Ablow, who believes that men should have ‘veto power’ over women’s abortions, speaks to a widespread view among forced-birth activists that their capricious (male) god has plenipotentiary powers over every fetus, and men also have agency over every fetus they create, but pregnant women have no agency or independence whatsoever regarding the fetuses gestating inside their own bodies.
In a return to classic patriarchy, women are just slaves to men’s complete ownership of the means of reproduction, with the same god who kills so many children used as the excuse.
Underlining this point are the many efforts by Republican lawmakers around the country to criminalize miscarriage in recent years, with prosecutors filing charges against women who suffer them and trying to strip pregnant women of their civil rights.
Last year, we published a peer-reviewed study documenting 413 arrests or equivalent actions depriving pregnant women of their physical liberty during the 32 years between 1973, when Roe v. Wade was decided, and 2005. In a majority of these cases, women who had no intention of ending a pregnancy went to term and gave birth to a healthy baby. This includes the many cases where the pregnant woman was alleged to have used some amount of alcohol or a criminalized drug.
Since 2005, we have identified an additional 380 cases, with more arrests occurring every week. This significant increase coincides with what the Guttmacher Institute describes as a “seismic shift” in the number of states with laws hostile to abortion rights.
The principle at the heart of contemporary efforts to end legal abortion is that fertilized eggs, embryos and fetuses are persons or at least have separate rights that must be protected by the state. In each of the cases we identified, this same rationale provided the justification for the deprivation of pregnant women’s physical liberty, as well as of the right to medical decision making, medical privacy, bodily integrity and, in one case, the woman’s right to life.
These efforts mirror the way justice already works in countries like El Salvador, where the power of the Catholic Church and the efforts of forced-birth activists have rendered the laws incredibly hostile to women, and a perfectly-natural miscarriage can result in a decades-long prison term. The recent conviction of Purvi Patel, an Indiana woman who seems to have suffered a natural miscarriage and was nevertheless tried on the basis of an outdated and discredited forensic test, is a sign that the forced-birth lobby wants to bring those Third World attitudes back into American legal vogue, treating every natural miscarriage as a suspicious artificial event. As Almendrala notes, this is perhaps the oldest form of misogyny in the world:
The myth of rarity is just one of many miscarriage misunderstandings that perpetuate a harmful cycle of shame and isolation around grieving women, according to Dr. Zev Williams, the study’s author. Williams, who directs the Program for Early and Recurrent Pregnancy Loss (PEARL) at Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University and Montefiore Medical Center in New York, hypothesizes that they stem from the “ancient nature” of miscarriage.
For most of human history, women have suffered all the shame and blame for anything that went wrong with a pregnancy, such as giving birth to girls instead of boys, or having children with physical infirmities, imperfections, or genetic disorders. These efforts to police pregnancy amount to little more than witch trials — and represent a blazing theological hypocrisy on the part of their advocates, who really ought to do something about their murderous, invisible sky-man before they go around shoving their opinions in women’s anatomy.
In any event, for all too many ‘pro life’ types, reverence for life begins at conception and ends at birth. They care absolutely nothing about the physical and mental health of women, and doing anything for living breathing children is inevitably a violation of their sacred free market principles.
The union of “sacred” and “free market” is a new phenomenon born from corporate funding of the religious right. 99% of all Christians who ever lived would not recognize any free market as “sacred.”