FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Ultrasound

Coming as it did in time for International Women’s Day, the decision of legislators in Virginia, to require women seeking an abortion to undergo a vaginal probe and see ultrasound images of their unborn infants has aroused considerable outrage.  And controversy.  Some (mostly Democrats) see it as an invasion of women’s privacy, if not technically a kind of rape, while others (mostly Republicans) say, with the conservative Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, “This law is a victory for women and their unborn children. We thank Gov. McDonnell and Virginia’s pro-life legislators for their work to ensure that women have all the facts and will no longer be kept in the dark about their pregnancies.”

I have a modest proposal that would resolve the issue.  In Virginia, Texas, and the six other states that now mandate this procedure, let Army and other military recruiters be veterans who have lost an arm or a leg or been otherwise traumatized in combat.  Let every recruiting station show continuous images of innocent noncombatants who died, including under attacks by American drones.  Let the recruiting centers display that Russian proverb, “Every bullet finds its target in a mother’s heart.” And above all, let each prospective recruit and his or her mother be advised that he or she is not at all unlikely to commit suicide after undergoing the dehumanization of basic training (“basic” to all violent systems) and coming to realize the horrible hypocrisy of what they have been brought to do by a heartless state.

And especially in Texas, the execution capital of the country, let every warden who’s about to order the execution of a death-row inmate talk the matter over with the inmate’s mother.  Let the executioners themselves listen to the heartbeat of the prisoner and hear his (or her) own story of how they were led by a violence-prone society, with its mass-media culture, to commit the crime.

Who ever heard of a morality that says you’re sacred until you’re born?

If truth is the first victim in times of war and violence, women are a close second. In the war epics of ancient Greece there is a repeated formula that I will crudely but not inaccurately translate, “I’m in charge here, because I’m the one who controls the women.”  It is not possible to have a violent society in which women are treated with respect.  Often the very act of war is construed as rape.  On the side of British jets gearing up to bomb Iraq the men painted a reclining woman labeled “Iraq” or “Saddam” about to use a bomb as a sexual object.  The f-word became the standard American verb for ‘hurt’ or ‘kill’ in Army parlance.

The victimization of women in war, and the dehumanization of women as the mental preparation for war, are an unfortunate, unavoidable extension of our violent culture by other means.  For all these reasons, the pious reverence for (unborn) life that wells up in conservative hearts has to be set down to thinly disguised hypocrisy.

At the same time, life is sacred, and let’s face it: abortion can be traumatic; it can break the most deeply-held bond of human connectedness, the bond between mother and child.  We should encourage conservatives to shed their hypocrisy, not their sensitivity — that, on the contrary, they should expand. And we should insist that if they oppose abortion — and condemn it for the sexual license it enables, as the hateful remarks of Rush Limbaugh make clear that they do, let them join us in doing something to curtail unwanted pregnancies in the first place.  Let them raise their voices against the use of sexual arousal to sell everything from cars to toothpaste; yes, even if it means the end of advertising as we know it. (Near the news of the Virginia Governor’s decision that I read this morning was an ad, “Sexy cars at the Geneva Motor Show”).  Morality is too important to be left to the politicians.

Michael Nagler is the author of The Search for a Nonviolent Future and founder of the Metta Center for Nonviolence based in Petaluma, CA.

More articles by:

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
George Wuerthner
The Highest Use of Public Forests: Carbon Storage
Ralph Nader
It is Time to Rediscover Print Newspapers
Nick Licata
How SDS Imploded: an Inside Account
Rachel Smolker – Anne Peterman
The GE American Chestnut: Restoration of a Beloved Species or Trojan Horse for Tree Biotechnology?
Sam Pizzigati
Can Society Survive Without Empathy?
Manuel E. Yepe
China and Russia in Strategic Alliance
Patrick Walker
Green New Deal “Climate Kids” Should Hijack the Impeachment Conversation
Colin Todhunter
Encouraging Illegal Planting of Bt Brinjal in India
Robert Koehler
The Armed Bureaucracy
David Swanson
Anyone Who’d Rather Not be Shot Should Read this Book
Jonathan Power
To St. Petersburg With Love
Marc Levy
How to Tell a Joke in Combat
Thomas Knapp
Pork is Not the Problem
Manuel García, Jr.
Global Warming and Solar Minimum: a Response to Renee Parsons
Jill Richardson
Straight People Don’t Need a Parade
B. R. Gowani
The Indian Subcontinent’s Third Partition
Adolf Alzuphar
Diary: The Black Body in LA
Jonah Raskin
‘69 and All That Weird Shit
Michael Doliner
My Surprise Party
Stephen Cooper
The Fullness of Half Pint
Charles R. Larson
Review: Chris Arnade’s “Dignity: Seeking Respect in Back Row America”
David Yearsley
Sword and Sheath Songs
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail