I was having this discussion on feministing and i wondered what people here would think.
The argument for allowing abortion is generally that up until at least a few months if not later but definitely for all the time in the womb a baby is not really a person. The reason you cant kill very young infants is because they are often wanted by others and they dont impinge on the mothers right to control her body so its better to put them up for adoption or in foster care.
But given that you have decided to have the baby and it will absolutely be a person, do you have the right as a pregnant mother to do things which are harmful to the child? Smoking, drinking, serious drugs, whatever else you can think of that could harm the child in utero. Because the baby is going to be a person and anything you do will affect them when they qualify as human does it constitute a crime or child abuse to do things which will damage its cognitive development, or other parts of its development? After all you cant make a baby or even a child under 18 smoke or drink, which is effectively what you are doing to the child.
Hm, I think the thought I have on this is that in the case of abortion and pregnancy is that both are expressions of responsibility. If a woman is not capable or able to take care of a child, she should have the ability to have an abortion in a clean medical facility. She knows she won't be able to do right by that child, so she's getting an abortion. Something I can respect because let's be honest, shit happens.
In the case of a woman who is pregnant and knows she is yet smokes heavily,drinks and does heavy drugs. I think she's being irresponsible and should be talked to about what she's doing. But I am really hungry so I'll explain in detail later...
This is a slippery slope. Having known and been in laws with people who have fetal alcohol syndrome, it seems like the mother should be held accountable for the child's disability when her actions caused it. If a child is born needing detox and rehab because mom wouldn't lay off the heroine for 9 months, she should definitely be looked into for child abuse.
Smoking, I'm not so sure of. I understand it can cause low birth rate babies and may increase the odds a child will have adhd, but there's not so much solid evidence that smoking absolutely causes birth defects or serious harm to the child.
It's a slippery slope when we start dealing with prenatal child abuse. Is it child abuse when the mom does not take prenatal vitamins? My doctor thought it was horrible that I wouldn't take the fish oil supplements he wanted me to take. Fish oil made me puke without being pregnant. When you're already spending your free time worshiping at the bathroom altar, you sure don't want to spend more time doing that and prenatal vitamins and fish oil can definitely push you over the hurling edge.
There's a big difference between being a coke addict and being a smoker or just refusing to take prenatal vitamins. If the child is born all messed up and it's due to the mother's being a drunk or a junkie, then yes, prosecute her, because she has seriously harmed someone. Even though it means some poor people will be messed up because their mother was a damn junkie and that's really sad, I think it's just a very slippery slope to start prosecuting pregnant women for child abuse. It's possible for a woman to continue to bleed every months for several months into the pregnancy. Should a woman be prosecuted for doing the wrong things when she didn't even know she was pregnant?
I can see this going into Handmaiden's Tale land when women of child bearing age are refused service at bars and liquor stores on the off chance they might unknowingly be pregnant. Also, I don't want us to go down the path where women who have miscarriages are prosecuted for something beyond their or anyone else's control.
Yes, if a baby is born damaged because mom would not stop shooting up meth or whatever, then it is child abuse and mom should be prosecuted. But I also believe junkies should have free access to birth control and abortion too - even if they use abortion as a birth control method. People who want babies don't generally want a crack baby or an AIDS baby. They want a perfect healthy baby - not a lifetime challenge.
As a mother and a woman whose actually been pregnant, I don't really want to go there. Even if the mother went through mandatory drug testing at every prenatal appointment (and until the last weeks that's only once a month), many women who abuse alcohol or drugs could fall through the cracks anyway. Alcohol passes though the system rather quickly. Mom could be hitting the sauce everyday of the week, but sober up a day or two before her appointment and pass with flying colors. Another mom smokes a half a joint once in a month gets slammed because marijuana stays in the system a long time.
Insurance and Medicaid barely want to pay for once a month appointments, they aren't going to go for once a week prenatal appointments or daily drug an alcohol checks.
Smoking is bad, yes. But we don't charge smokers with child abuse just because they smoke. I know plenty of moms who smoked some while pregnant and had normal weight babies and their kids do not have adhd. I also know moms who never smoked in their lives and they have low birth weight babies and/or their kids have adhd. ADHD is a difficult thing for a parent or a person to live with, but it isn't the worst thing. It is not fetal alcohol syndrome, for example.
I don't have the answer, but I don't believe a woman is the servant of her womb. Where do you draw the line? Well, heroine use is probably a no brainer, but what about refusing to take prenatal vitamins? A lot of women do because it makes them puke like there's no tomorrow. But hey, everyone knows prenatal vitamins are good for the baby. Is the lack of prenatal vitamins harming the child and causing an unsafe environment? What about women who may be four months pregnant before they even know they are pregnant and tossed a few too many back a time or two? Should they be prosecuted, because they did do something harmful to their baby?
Meth head, obvious. Smoking, drinking, not doing exactly everything your doctor says - not so obvious.
I'm not going to go there on forbidding people to procreate, because there are a lot of people who think poor women or women of color shouldn't be allowed to have children. That sort of thing can easily slide into Nazi land.
The problem with punishing the mother is that it is too inviting to say "Why is it not OK to do drugs and drink while pregnant because it could harm your baby, but it's perfectly OK to kill it?" There's too much potential for any law to be co-opted by the "pro-life".
Although I also wonder if some of the women who stay smoking and drinking, etc while pregnant are the ones who reluctantly carry their pregnancy to term because they don't believe in abortion.
I look at it this way: if it's in your body, you have the right to expel it. If you choose to keep it, you have taken on a responsibility. Laws probably won't help. Education, and assistance getting off substances, are a better approach.
Why do we call a baby "IT"? Even "Right to Lifers" do it.
I think the important matter is not whether or not to punish an addicted woman, who has given birth to a baby who is born with mutations, addiction, or fetal alcohol syndrome. Punitive treatment of addicts doesn't work, except in so far as keeping them dry until they detox might help them break the habit. What is important is protecting an individual - the child - from further abuse and neglect at the hands of a parent who has already neglected and abused him. I think that abused children should be taken from their abusers. Also, although, as a feminist, I have been condemned for this view, I think those who have abused children should be sterilized. Children are not just things to be had. Babies don't "belong" to their parents. At least, once we are born, we have individual rights. The question to consider is, "Are children people, or are they possessions of their parents?"
My doctor seemed to think my baby was going to end up mentally challenged because I refused to take fish oil. What's deemed good and bad during pregnancy changes with the times. My kids are healthy as horses and I took gummy vitamins and ate vegetables instead of taking prenatal vitamins. I ate fish from time to time instead of eating fish oil supplements. Then again, eat fish and they tell you not to because it's full of mercury. Sometimes it seems you can't win for loosing when you're pregnant. Here's an article all about the bad things that can happen because mom didn't take her prenatals: http://www.hollybaby.com/2011/05/26/prenatal-vitamins-autism-link-m...
Considering most vitamins can't even be processed by the body (don't ask, I knew a guy who cleaned port-a-potties for a living), it seems like a gummy vitamin or a liquid vitamin supplement would be better. (Of course, just eating fruits and vegetables is best.)
I don't think a mother addicted to hard drugs and alcohol is actually capable of caring for her children in any sense of properly (ie - like not leaving her drug needles and booze lying around or maybe ODing in front of her kids). On the other hand, I don't think drug and alcohol addicted men make very good parents either.
This article is by the NARCONON (I'm guessing it's like NA in the US) about the damaging effects of heavy hard drug and alcohol use on unborn babies and their mothers; http://www.drugrehab.co.uk/drug-use-pregnancy.htm
I don't think there's a lot that can or maybe should be done before the baby is born. However, I do think after the baby is born, if the mother and father are out of control drug users, then the children would probably be safer somewhere else.
Until we can devise some sort of artificial womb to transfer these children to where they could be safely transfered and well cared for, yes, I am agreeing that the mother has the pre-existing right to her own body and to do with it as she pleases even if I don't like it , agree with it or see it as flat out abusive and wrong.
Of course, if we had an artificial womb like that, no rich woman would ever become pregnant again. LOL!
No, they would have the doctor collect a number of eggs when they were in their prime. Freeze the eggs and them thaw them for use later. Mix the magic ingredients together in a test tube, implant them in the artificial womb and in nine months - wella! Instant baby. No stretch marks or morning sickness required. In the case of trophy wives, they would never have to be "fat" to get their heir and a spare.
Thanks to modern science, you do not need to have sex to get pregnant. Men don't even have to be in the same room, same city, same state, same country... That's kind of sad for men when you think about it.
They would still be around, because it would be very expensive just like hiring a surrogate is. Low and medium income people would probably still have kids the old fashioned way. Also, it seems weird, but I think babies are socialized in the womb - especially towards the end when they can hear. I know my kids both turned their heads when someone said their names the day they were born. It could potentially cause social problems not to be inside a mother for nine months. Babies can determine between their parents and strangers even at birth. Who knows how they will be effected not hearing the filtered sounds of the mother's voice and the inner workings of her body? I guess you could play tapes of the parents' voices and womb sounds, but would recordings be the same?
I meant it would be sad for men never getting to actually do the fun part of having a baby and maybe even becoming seen as unnecessary apart from donating their genetic material in doctor's office.