Things are not looking great in Western Australia for the rights of pregnant people at the moment. Yesterday we had this:
Causing the death of an unborn child will be viewed similar to murder by courts as part of new laws the state government wants to bring in.[…]
And today the Australian Medical Association has jumped on the fetal personhood bandwagon, mostly to feed the flames of their disgust at women choosing their place of birth, with a side serve of pushing the criminalisation of women’s alcoholism:
“Doctors want the State Government to consider criminal penalties when unborn babies are negligently endangered in homebirths or by mothers who take drugs or drink excessively.
Australian Medical Association WA president Dave Mountain said there should be penalties to encompass the “wild extremes” of homebirths, foetal alcohol syndrome and unborn babies affected by their mothers’ drug use.
“We’re talking about when people choose to proceed with a homebirth when it’s clear that there is an extreme danger to the baby and particularly when that’s encouraged by people who should know better,” he said. “There should be circumstances where people who actively encourage endangerment of the baby in that situation are held to account.”
Dr Mountain said pregnant women who took alcohol or drugs to excess knowing it would harm their unborn child should also be held criminally responsible.
“If you feed a child alcohol or drugs you would expect to be prosecuted,” he said.[…]”
What’s “to excess”? Why, exactly, should pregnant alcoholics be thrown in jail, and what purpose will that serve? How about smokers? How about people who eat raw salad without washing it first? How about people who have a whole glass of wine, or even two? How about people who take medications which are relatively (or absolutely) contraindicated in pregnancy? How about people who exercise “too much” to the point of their body temperature rising significantly? How about people who gain more than the industry-sanctioned amount of weight in pregnancy (which, for very fat people, is zero kilograms)? How about people who haven’t actually taken that pregnancy test yet, but their period is late or who have some pregnancy symptoms, who drink more than the “recommended” amount of alcohol (which, currently, “officially”, is zero)? How about people who reach for that second or third cup of coffee? How about people who make informed decisions to decline certain obstetric interventions?
When I was pregnant, I was in at least six of those categories. Yes, I “fed” my “unborn child” alcohol and drugs, and I gained weight in pregnancy – in fact, I worked pretty damn hard to gain weight despite my hyperemesis, so that sure counts as “knowingly” – and I drank coffee. But they won’t come for me. You know why? I’m white. I’m middle-class. I had an obstetrician who supported (and often encouraged) my decisions. I don’t look like one of THOSE women.
A newsflash to the AMA and the WA Liberal Party: A fetus is not an “unborn child” or a “baby” unless its host says it is. And it should never be a person in the eyes of the law. You know why? Because then these words:
Dr Mountain said the AMA was reassured by Mr Porter’s commitment that the legislation would not affect WA’s abortion laws.
would be completely meaningless. And now, we know that these attempt at reassurance are completely empty, coming from you. Dave Mountain, when you refer to “unborn children” as persons, when you deny us sovereignty over our own bodies, when you claim that legal activities should become illegal as soon as there’s an embryo inside us: we do not – we cannot – believe that you care about abortion rights. We cannot believe that you care about the rights of the people right in front of you.
Western Australians with uteruses, and our allies, should be afraid – and angry.