23rd 2008
Empty Vessels

Posted under: Gender, women's history

eucharius-roesslin-1545.jpgThis is something of a follow-up to my post on the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, which was cross-posted at The Edge of the American West.  One of the commentors was clearly irritated that I didn’t write about the precious little baybays.  (Of course, considering that it was a post about a Supreme Court decision, and that fetuses don’t have any standing before the law, I thought the content of my post would be self-evident.)

Well, people do get so up in arms when you tell them that yes, in fact the ladies are remembered in the U.S. Constitution.  (Not that I’m opposed to reviving the Equal Rights Amendment–far from it!  Best to make sure there are no more pesky misunderstandings.)  The forced pregnancy gang likes to pretend that fetuses don’t in fact exist inside uteruses, which are in fact intimate parts of someone else’s body.  And when you think about it, it’s downright un-American to write laws that tell other people what to do with their own bodies.  (That would seem to conflict with a little constitutional amendment I like to call number Thirteen.  Pregnancy is hard enough even if it’s entirely voluntary servitude.)

The conversation over at The Edge of the American West made me think about renaissance anatomy texts like the one shown here, in which fetuses are depicted as floating in upside-down vases, outside of actual women’s bodies.  The image above, from a 1545 edition of Eucharius Roesslin’s The Byrth of Mankynde, depicts the fondest fantasy of the forced pregnancy gang:  pretty little fetuses growing to maturity without any pesky, leaky, smelly, slutty, opinionated women’s bodies to deal with. 

UPDATE:  At the end of the day, my interlocutor paid me a compliment, so I’d like to return the favor.  Charlie, you’re a good egg, and a worthy adversary.  I thank you for a stimulating exchange today.

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One Response to “Empty Vessels”

  1. HCR, the Stupak amendment, and the complex reality of abortion : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present on 10 Nov 2009 at 10:01 am #

    [...] grasping the complexity of what we like to call “reality” has never been the strong suit….  Anyone who has had an appointment with an OB/GYN knows that the medical term [...]

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