Yes Dear, I Do Remember When Women Were People Too

Blogging  in haste whilst waiting out the sprout’s martial arts class, this from the ACLU blog seems an excruciatingly appropriate follow up to ABL’s post below:

On December 23, 2010, [Bei Bei] Shuai, a 34-year-old pregnant woman who was suffering from a major depressive disorder, attempted to take her own life. Friends found her in time and persuaded her to get help. Six days later, Shuai underwent cesarean surgery and delivered a premature newborn girl who, tragically, died four days later.

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On March 14, 2011, Shuai was arrested, jailed, and charged with murder and attempted feticide. Had Shuai, who is being represented by National Advocates for Pregnant Women and local attorneys, not been pregnant when she attempted suicide, she would not have been charged with any crime at all.

I’m fair gobsmacked with outrage and sorrow at this.

__

Full disclosure: this story strikes home personally — there is a history of depression and associated suicide on one side of my family, and the thought that someone enduring that particularly vicious illness being further tortured by the modern inquisition is just grotesque.  No one who has either suffered major depression, nor anyone who has loved someone thus afflicted would see the state of Indiana’s actions as anything other than vicious.

That this action is enmeshed in religious and political fanaticism and intolerance of views other than those of particular faiths and cults does not excuse the behavior.  The reverse, in fact.

__

Beyond my personal revulsion and rage at those who would so use a woman already mired in sorrow for their own ends,* the only thing I want to add in this brief piece is that the actions of the state here are part and parcel of a pattern of GOP lawless exercise of state power under the color of law.  Here’s the ACLU blog again on the way Indiana prosecutors are abusing the criminal statutes at their disposal:

The state is misconstruing the criminal laws in this case in such a way that any pregnant woman could be prosecuted for doing (or attempting) anything that may put her health at risk, regardless of the outcome of her pregnancy.

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That’s right: according to the ways the laws are being applied here, the state of Indiana believes that any pregnant woman who smokes or lives with a smoker, who works long hours on her feet, who is overweight, who doesn’t exercise, or who fails to get regular prenatal care, is a felon. And the list of ways these laws could be construed to unconstitutionally prosecute pregnant women goes on and on.

That is, as this report goes on to argue, in the view of the prosecution, women are not autonomous citizens.  They are wards of the state…and while I’m sure the earnest sex-phobic, women-denigrating apologists of the right (I’m looking at you, Ross Douthat) would argue that matters would never get this far, I don’t see how the theory of the Indiana prosecution wouldn’t stretch to cover the “reckless” behavior of any fertile, sexually active woman.

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After all — if you don’t know whether or not you are pregnant, how can you responsibly risk any potential fetus by injesting the demon rum or what have you.  If there is any woman, or any friend to any woman out there who thinks that the GOP can be trusted with their body, they need to think long and hard on the show trial of Bei Bei Shuai

Image:  Cate Bischop Sorrow, before 1928

58 replies
  1. 1
    JGabriel says:

    Someone needs to tell the GOP that The Handmaid’s Tale is a dystopian caution, not a how-to guide.

    .

  2. 2
    bookcat says:

    The HandMaid’s Tale is coming true.

  3. 3
    Mark S. says:

    Um, wow. That is completely fucked up.

  4. 4
    Maude says:

    This is like something out of the Dark Ages.

  5. 5
    bookcat says:

    @JGabriel: Wow. Same thought, huh?

  6. 6
    PurpleGirl says:

    Shaking my head… I’m glad that I’m not young anymore.

    ETA: This is the inevitable outcome of all those step by step incremental attacks on abortion and women’s rights.

  7. 7
    numbskull says:

    Just waiting for jwest or some other conservatard to explain it all to me.

  8. 8
    soonergrunt says:

    Time for another donation to the ACLU.

  9. 9
    qwerty42 says:

    Tom,
    I think this is all part of the Freedom Agenda™. Or it may be related to the Republicans laser-like focus on jobs. Or something. Certainly not to a smug, arrogant sense of self-righteousness. Never.

  10. 10
    trollhattan says:

    @numbskull:

    Are you mad? The real repression is having to buy fluorescent light bulbs. All else is channel noise.

    That story is…unfathomable.

  11. 11

    having just finished a dissertation length argument with some right wing acquaintances about obama’s chances in 2012, i apologize if my reaction to this is wantonly political.

    i really don’t think the republicans can count on a disengaged left wing base in 2012. if nothing else, their socipathy is countering the left’s self-immolating impulse to expect to much from obama.

  12. 12
    JGabriel says:

    @bookcat: I’m sure we’re not alone. The parallels are unmistakable.

    .

  13. 13
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Maude:

    This is like something out of the Dark Ages.

    Governments in the Dark Ages rarely had this kind of interest in what the people were actually doing.

    That would actually be a step up in my view.

  14. 14
    Brachiator says:

    I do not understand this. I do not understand it at all. I do not understand how conservative women are sitting still for this, how they are allowing it. This is not to say that women alone are responsible for opposing or fighting these laws. It is that I do not understand how some women could be complicit in their own marginalization.

    In Indiana, is every miscarriage going to be investigated by the cops? Will women become subject to random pregnancy tests and then monitored to make sure that they continue the pregnancy?

    @Maude:

    This is like something out of the Dark Ages.

    Or the worst behavior of some (obviously not all) Egyptian soldiers and officials.

    Egyptian soldiers tortured female protesters and administered forced “virginity tests” on them following demonstrations this month, a human rights organization reported.
    __
    Salwa Hosseini, 20, told the group the she and other women also were forced to remove all their clothes to be searched by a female prison guard, in a room with two open doors and a window while male soldiers looked in and took pictures.
    __
    The women were then subjected to ‘virginity tests’ in a different room by a man in a white coat and threatened that “those not found to be virgins” would be charged with prostitution, Amnesty International reported.

    Most of all, I do not understand the lack of compassion here, the fanatical need to find a reason to administer punishment.

  15. 15
    General Stuck says:

    This is too fucked up to get my head around right now. Am going to let it bounce around some before going ballistic. But the notions of reproductive liberties in our culture run fairly deep, and the wingnuts are messing around with primal forces from their always insatiable appetite for power and control. jeebus fucking christ, this is fucked up.

  16. 16
    patrick II says:

    There is nothing quite so curative for a suicidally depressed person who has lost a child as to be arrested and put in jail.
    Aside from the general application of the flawed principle you discuss (it would be criminal to not exercise or eat properly) the specific application here is so pain-inducing to this poor woman as to make one cringe at the thought.
    The woman who attempted suicide has an emotional fragility, the beasts who punish her have an emotional void.

  17. 17
    Citizen_X says:

    Wow. And just how are these people different from the Taliban?

    Glad I left Indiana. Unfortunately, it was for Texas. I know, frying pan, fire, etc, etc. But where is there safety from the lunacy? Massachusetts? That’s one state out of 50.

    For a slightly more humorous example, check this out: Republicans in the Florida House got upset at a Democratic Rep for using the word “uterus.”

    Seriously. Mentioning ladyparts terrifies them.

  18. 18
    asiangrrlMN says:

    My god. What have they wrought? As someone who has suffered from severe depression, as a woman who has no desire for children, this story chills me to the bone. I have GOT to get my damn tubes tied. Stat. Poor woman. I grieve for her and for other women in her situation.

  19. 19
    WereBear says:

    Indiana.

    It’s the only word I need to hear.

    My brother and I accompanied our mother to her mother’s funeral. Indiana. My grandmother had ceased to recognize any of us for years because of multiple infarct dementia, caused by untreated high blood pressure, because “you can’t trust doctors.”

    Afterwards my mother cried as she explained why she had uprooted the family when I was seven; she didn’t want us to grow up there. As she had.

    “They won’t let you live!” she cried.

    And my brother and I thanked her, most humbly and sincerely.

  20. 20
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    I know it doesn’t help the independent moral agency of women status that is being attacked piece by piece right now, but, in addition to constitutional arguments, this woman does have a fantastic temporary insanity argument just teed up for defense counsel.

    I am again gobsmacked by the kind of crap that is going on in this country. It pisses me off and makes me want to work even harder to defeat these pathetic, sick shits.

  21. 21
    Barbara says:

    It’s hard to unravel the mindset at work here but I will try. Think about that infamous New Yorker cover, “a New Yorker’s view of the United States,” where 90% of the cover is taken up by a cartoon drawing of Manhattan. In a parallel kind of drawing depicting this prosecutor’s view of women, the uterus would take up 90% of the space. The rest of the female person is just for back office support service. It’s so demeaning that I am going to add the state of Indiana as another in a list of places I will never go to again unless forced to by business.

  22. 22
    Zifnab says:

    @Brachiator:

    I do not understand this. I do not understand it at all. I do not understand how conservative women are sitting still for this, how they are allowing it. This is not to say that women alone are responsible for opposing or fighting these laws. It is that I do not understand how some women could be complicit in their own marginalization.

    It’s a two-tiered system. Shuai was prosecuted because she was foreign, poor, and fairly young. You wouldn’t see a Phyllis Schlafly suffer such indignation, because she is rich, old, native, and well connected.

    Many conservative women are – or at least think they are – immune from this kind of abuse because they follow the conservative code. These kinds of laws and applications of laws are tools to oppress your neighbors. They aren’t designed to be administered fairly or impartially.

    The logic that let’s conservative women support these kinds of laws is the same logic that let’s conservative men embrace proliferation of firearms. The assumption is always that you’re the one with the power. You get to control your daughter or your neighbor or your employee.

  23. 23
  24. 24
    Tim I says:

    Living in Indiana can be scary. I live in downtown Indianapolis, which is a fairly cool place, but it seems like every day the Indianapolis Star publishes at least one letter from some anti-abortion idiot. There is also a serious legislative effort to de-fund Planned Parenthood, and whenever we drive to the malls we pass limitless mega-churches.

  25. 25
    Calouste says:

    So in Indiana driving without a seat belt means a fine for men and jail time for pregant women if we follow this line?

  26. 26
    asiangrrlMN says:

    P.S. Tom, the picture is haunting and evocative and fits perfectly. I guess I know what the topic of my next blog post is going to be.

    Sigh.

  27. 27
    OzoneR says:

    I want to preface this with something these assholes will shoot back at you.

    There was at least two situations at my college in 2002 and again in 2010 where a woman did lie and say she was raped and later recanted.

    But it is true that this is VERY rare, too rare for it to even be a factor like Rep. Turner says it is (and who really knows if she recanted for other reasons)

    I’ll say this, if there ever is a woman who would claim rape just to get an abortion, then it’s probably just as well she doesn’t carry a child anyway.

  28. 28
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Tim I:

    I worked at the Indianapolis International Airport for AAR a couple of years ago. I liked downtown Indianapolis okay, sorta kinda, but I basically just went through it to get to The Game Preserve…

  29. 29
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @OzoneR: I think you’re looking for a thread down-below. This one is about imprisonment of women who happen to be pregnant who try to commit suicide.

    Sigh.

  30. 30
    JPL says:

    My children were born in the seventies. As a pregnant female it was not uncommon to hear stories about females carrying fetuses that could not live out side the womb. The idea that we are going back to those times is outrageous and inhumane. We really are at a point in society that we have to stand up for our brothers and sisters because we know, the extremist won’t.

  31. 31
    Tom says:

    Pass this on to your local TP member:

    “Sarah Palin/Michelle Bachmann cannot run for president

    Why? Because the stress of the campaign and the job would harm her baby

    What do you mean she’s not pregnant? She could be. We can’t take the chance”

    Let us know the reaction

  32. 32
    OzoneR says:

    @asiangrrlMN: you’re right, I screwed up the threads

  33. 33

    Holy *$^#ing *$%&!

    That’s outrageous!

    You know what? I’ve been complacent. I thought we’d won this fight. I thought reproductive rights had become sufficiently well-established that all that was left was fighting at the margin. Republicans come to power and there’s a little push to the right, Democrats come to power and there’s a little push to the left, but all in all, the line had been drawn. I don’t think I was alone in thinking this way.

    I was wrong. This issue needs to go back to the top tier. These bastards are playing for keeps.

  34. 34

    @Fucen Pneumatic Fuck Wrench Tarmal:

    i really don’t think the republicans can count on a disengaged left wing base in 2012.

    Between women and union members, the Republicans have gone beyond just turning out their opposition’s base, and have moved into the territory where people who have been swing or even reliable Republican voters are going to vote for the Dems.

    Both of those groups have often been closely contested in recent elections. Not this time.

  35. 35
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @joe from Lowell: Nothing is ever over with these guys.

  36. 36
    Allan says:

    People of color, women, and the gays don’t vote GOP.

    Ergo, they are enemies of the state.

    SATSQ.

  37. 37
    gex says:

    @Zifnab: Yup. We already know that street drugs are largely legal for the right kind of people. Abortions will be too.

  38. 38

    @Brachiator:

    I do not understand this. I do not understand it at all. I do not understand how conservative women are sitting still for this, how they are allowing it.

    They didn’t see it coming. Why would they? Conservatives had jack-all to say about abortion in last year’s election.

    They spent two fucking years ranting about Obama as the Manchurian Candidate, who pretended to be all moderate and friendly but would turn into a social revolutionary in power, and then they pull this crap. “Oh, small government, stay out of people’s business, freedom, budget cuts, jobs, tax cuts – that’s our agenda!” And then this.

    Once again, we learn that whatever a Republican accuses his opponent of doing is what he intends to do himself.

  39. 39
    gex says:

    @joe from Lowell: The only people who know the “first they came for the ___s but I did not speak because I am not a ___” saying are the people at the front of that line. Straight white Christian women just didn’t realize that the have all the forces they need fighting blacks, immigrants, and gays so they could open up this new front.

  40. 40

    @gex: I think another problem is that there are so few women in positions of authority or even influence among the Republican Party and the conservative movement that, when some really gob-smacking idea gets put forward, something that even a right-wing woman would be horrified by, there simply isn’t anyone in the room to set the good ol’ boys straight.

  41. 41
    ppcli says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Absolutely not. Remember – these people are trying to overturn the *enlightenment*. They and those like them have been waiting and planning for well over 200 years to do it.

  42. 42
    Brachiator says:

    @Zifnab:

    It’s a two-tiered system. Shuai was prosecuted because she was foreign, poor, and fairly young. You wouldn’t see a Phyllis Schlafly suffer such indignation, because she is rich, old, native, and well connected.

    Sorry. I don’t agree. I would like to hear the opinions and reasoning of conservative women on this, not the interpretation of liberals about what conservatives think.

    In countries where women are marginalized, little distinction is made for class or age. I don’t know if conservatives are yet this crazy.

    Many conservative women are – or at least think they are – immune from this kind of abuse because they follow the conservative code.

    Again, I don’t agree. I’ve known some seriously religious conservative women, for example, treat their own daughters horribly in order to preserve their religious interpretation of the social order.

    There is a difference between the zealot and the hypocrite. I want to know exactly where these people stand.

  43. 43
    J says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Well said! The thought of the suffering they are putting that poor woman through, all to vindicate their smug self-righteous rectitude. It makes me with there were a hell where they could burn for eternity.

  44. 44
    bemused says:

    Why are conservative women sitting still for this?

    If they didn’t see this coming, they have been willfully trying not to. There’s that loyalty to the party of their parents, grandparents beyond all common sense. They simply cannot believe what is right before their eyes or accept that their party has gone completely around the bend.

    I don’t get it but that’s what I see in the R’s I know.

  45. 45
    4jkb4ia says:

    Completely awful story.

  46. 46
    PIGL says:

    The diarist used the term “viscious” which is spot on, in my view.

    The Republican Party represents and promotes a consituency of viscious pricks. The social conventions that once constrained most of the worst manifestations of these people’s ids have been deliberatley lifted by decades of sociopathic propaganda. They are now almost totally liberated to be as prickishly vicious as their black, cold and empty hearts desire. And they enjoy every minute of it…inflicting, observing, or at least righteously contemplating the pain of their victims is the only thing they really can enjoy.

    They should all only DIAF. But I’d accept that should not be able to vote or run for office or own property.

  47. 47
    Lysana says:

    And if you think this is bad, try being a transgender woman and having your body be subject to even worse legislation. And having so-called feminists insist it’s OK because you aren’t even really a woman.

    It really is all of a package, y’know. Bodily autonomy matters, period. If more feminists would wake up and realize the day-to-day death threat lived under by our trans sisters, we could actually do more with proving our dedication to such matters. As it is, we remain hypocrites.

  48. 48
    Ash Can says:

    @Brachiator:

    I do not understand how conservative women are sitting still for this, how they are allowing it.

    Maybe they figure that if growing up and living with abuse is good enough for them, it’s good enough for all women.

  49. 49
    Bex says:

    @asiangrrlMN: If I were you, I’d schedule that before contraception becomes illegal. Again.

  50. 50
    Tonal Crow says:

    And, if that weren’t bad enough, by merely invoking the criminal law, the state is likely to be able to convince a judge to give it a warrant to search the victim’s home, computer, cell phone, and/or car for “evidence” of the “crime”. And anything else — such as, say, pot seeds — that the state finds during that search is then grist for further persecution prosecution.

    We seriously need to rehabilitate the 4th Amendment. As it is, the police can easily convert a limited warrant (e.g., “search her desk for notes showing that she intended to harm her fetus”) into a general warrant (search for anything that might be evidence of any crime). But the founders gave us the 4th Amendment in large part to end the practice of issuing general warrants. Hence its last clause:

    …and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

  51. 51
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Bex: I have intended to for years, but with this shiitake happening and with my own state coming thisclose to being a clone of Wisconsin, I’m scheduling it soon.

    @Brachiator: I would hazard a guess that many conservative women are fine with this. Or, if not fine, then only mildly discomfited. It’s the logical extension of ‘abortion is murder’, really, and it’s the direction in which we’ve been headed for some time now. I’m just gobsmacked by how blatant the overreach is by the Republicans this time around (as with the union-busting shiitake), but it actually makes sense. Most of these anus berets are True Believers who have draconian moral beliefs.

    And, most of them are not very smart about the law, so they think if they just say it’s law, it is! Unfortunately, right now, it seems that it is, indeed, the way things are going to be in the short time. “We say it’s the law; therefore, it’s the law.”

  52. 52
    Ruckus says:

    I’m with the general here.
    I want to be red hot pissed off because this deserves at the very least that. But I’m numb, or dumbfounded or… I have no idea how to even put it into words.

  53. 53
    Ruckus says:

    @asiangrrlMN:
    Not very smart. How generous a turn of phrase. More like fucking stupid assholes. I think this prosecutor could qualify for Taibbi’s asshole list.

  54. 54
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Lysana:

    And if you think this is bad, try being a transgender woman and having your body be subject to even worse legislation. And having so-called feminists insist it’s OK because you aren’t even really a woman.

    I happen to be a transgendered woman. Yes, I know exactly what you are saying, although I am not being prosecuted for being trans.

    Yet.

  55. 55

    @Tonal Crow:

    And, if that weren’t bad enough, by merely invoking the criminal law, the state is likely to be able to convince a judge to give it a warrant to search the victim’s home, computer, cell phone, and/or car for “evidence” of the “crime”.

    This is an underplayed part of the argument against criminalizing abortion – its implications for searches.

    Under our constitutional law, if an agent of the government has a reasonable suspicion that there is an imminent threat to life and limb, he can effect an entry and a search with no warrant at all. This is why the police don’t have to go to a judge for a warrant if they see someone drag a screaming woman into a house – they just run down the block and kick in the door.

    So, what happens if “a pregnant woman going into a Planned Parenthood clinic for an abortion” is legally defined as a violent crime? That would mean that any agent of the state who has a reasonable suspicion that a woman entering a Planned Parenthood clinic or other doctor’s office is going to have abortion can walk right into the office, right into the examination room, and search.

  56. 56
    McMullje says:

    I thought it was the Republicans who are constantly accusing the Dems of trying to enact Sharia law. The Republican’s attitudes about women seem to come from the Ayatollah himself.

  57. 57
    Deb T says:

    @JGabriel:

    That’s the first thing that came to my mind too. I found Atwood’s book, The Handmaid’s Tale, one of the most chilling books I’d ever read primarily because it seemed so plausible. Forced childbirth, controlling women, putting them in categories as breeders, servants, sex slaves, wives (men too were categorized); moving away from currency to credit controlled by the state — all seems to be coming true.

  58. 58
    mclaren says:

    Why don’t we just cut to the chase and flog her to death for having premarital sex?

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