Butterfly Cauldron

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

And another hit for Louisiana women...

Since I haven't made it into work this morning to pull the story off the wire, I'm linking up to this post on Feministing. It seems our illustrious governor has declared she will sign our draconian abortion ban when it gets to her desk. And I shake with joy. Or was that terror? No rape or incest exception and you have to jump through hoops for medical exceptions. Go Blanco. Way to make a person glad she voted for you.

We're never going to have a pro-choice governor in this state, not one that will actually act on her/his principals anyway. Blanco always gave the impression that she was, at least moderately, pro-choice. Yes, she's in favor of adoption. Well, so am I. That's how I got my amazing neice. But that doesn't mean I'm against a woman having the right to choice whether to have a child in the first place. Still, this place isn't set up so that you can be pro-choice and hold any high public office. Oh, you may get on the school board. And you may get on the water board. Or the police jury. Bodies that have no legislative power over the state as a whole. But you're not going to be the governor. Maybe not even the lt. gov. Although, Mitch does seem to be pro-life. I haven't checked into that, but he gives that impression.

The majority of our population is rural. They're poor. They're not terribly educated. Now, there's nothing inherently wrong with any of those things. I grew up in a rural, poor, not-so-educated family. I'm not judging people for their circumstance. There are some really wonderful people here. If there weren't, there's no way anyone would stay in this damned state. But you know, if you need something, you're neighbors are going to help you out, even if they don't really have the help to spare. So it bugs me when I see people talking about how backwards and stupid the people are down here. Some of them are, sure. But then, so are over half of the politicians in Washington, or we wouldn't still be having an abortion debate, would we?

People here tend to be simple. Faith, family, a little fun on the weekends. That's all they ask. And, if one of their daughters was pregnant, most people would do their best to help her out. Sometimes that means getting her to the clinic in Shreveport or Baton Rouge or New Orleans. But usually, that means letting her move back into the house, giving her a room and tracking down some baby stuff. And for some women, that's just what they need. But not for everyone. Only, people around here seem to think there's only one way to do things. If you're pregnant, you've got to have baby. Until it happens to someone they love and they watch them freak out and go nuts and they think, well, maybe. This time is different. It's not all those other women. Let me call the clinic.

Most of our people don't really understand conception. Most of the believe that when you have sex, you get pregnant at the same time. That night. Instantly. Try to explain to them it can take days and they won't believe you. Because it doesn't seem to make sense. Most people don't understand how an embryo develops. They believe it looks like an itty, bitty baby from the moment of conception. Try to explain otherwise to them. Most people don't believe you when you tell them that the miscarriage rate is exceedingly high. (Is it between 40 and 60 percent? I don't have the statistics right at hand and I don't want to quote something I'm not sure about.) They don't believe that those fertilized, and therefore living human beings, are being flushed away every month. That just doesn't make sense. People like things that make sense. If they have to think too hard about them, they just won't believe them. Because that's easier.

They honestly believe that every woman wants to be a mother. Those that say they don't just don't realize they do, that's all. Once they have that baby, regardless of how it was conceived or how much damage it does to them getting here, they'll see the light. For the majority of people down here, that is a sincere belief. Most people don't want to punish women, exactly. That's just a side effect for them. I'm almost 32 and I get the strangest looks from people when I tell them, no I don't have children and no, I don't want them. Most of the time, they just laugh and tell me I'll change my mind when I have one. As if I'd have one if I didn't want to? But you see, that's the mentality here. ALL women wants babies, they just don't know it yet. And it's not as if (most) of those kids would go unloved. Family is such a huge thing here, any baby would be welcomed in most families. (There are, of course, exceptions.) So, for a lot of people, while they may understand on an intellectual level who women object to being forced to have children, they see that as 'well, she simply doesn't know what she really wants."

The ultimate patronizing, big daddy statement you can imagine. Of course. But you'll notice, there's not move to force the fathers of these children to take care of them? Why? Again, that goes back to family. (Ironic, isn't it?) Well, she's got her parents and her brother and her sister and her grandparents. She doesn't need my help raising that baby. And so, off daddy skips. I've talked to DA and child support enforcement people -- it's astonishingly hard to force a man to pay child support. They garnish wages, he takes a job working for cash. They put a hold on his tax returns, he stops filing. And since he's working for cash, there's no paper trail to say he did actually earn any money to tax. Or, he'll stop working all together. They passed a law recently allowing the state to suspend licenses of men who don't pay child support. All license -- drivers, medical, legal, hunting, fishing, etc. The only ones that really affected were those who needed their license to work. Men drive without license, they hunt,they fish, they do whatever without a license. Because the fine for being caught without one is so very small, it doesn't matter.

So, we have a state where 'All women want babies' but 'All men don't have to be responsible.'

And I'm praying, very hard, that I get the job I interviewed for yesterday so I can get out of here. *sigh*

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posted by Zan at 7:25 AM

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