Only in America?

In Arkansas, lawmakers are considering making it a crime for a pregnant woman to take a drag off a cigarette.

…”What we’re seeing is a political trend in which the fetuses are coming first, and the rights of women… are coming last,” said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of the National Advocates for Pregnant Women.

“I think 30 years of anti-abortion rhetoric –‘women killing their babies’ — has led to a moral vilification that doesn’t just stick to those who seek to terminate a pregnancy. It’s spreading to all pregnant women.”






0 responses to “Only in America?”

  1. Well, I suppose it would make more sense to focus on alcohol, given the proven damage it can cause, but I think it’s logical and consistent with the point of view that holds that life begins at conception.

  2. Oh Jesus. That would mean half the teenagers around here could be banged to rights. Goodness that sounds rude doesn’t it? Sorry. In my time I’ve crowed to a few people that I managed to stop smoking in just one day. They look impressed until they ask me how I did it and for some reason when I reply: “I found out I was pregnant” they change the subject. I’d probably get just as many horrified looks these days if I lit up a fag anyway – no-one likes to see a fattie smoking either? Do they? :-)

  3. Gary

    Stephen: yeah, it’s consistent, but to me it’s a viewpoint that sees women as incubators rather than people – and which sees such laws as the first step towards a much bigger picture, which of course is banning abortion. Anything like that with an apparently reasonable basis – nobody believes smoking during pregnancy is A Good Thing – but an ulterior motive scares me somewhat.

    The proven damage/alcohol thing interests me: any studies I’ve seen on Foetal Alcohol Syndrome have been based on alkies, not occasional imbibing. Have you seen others?

    Linda: you’re right about horrified looks. I know friends who smoked during pregnancy – speaking as someone who’s tried at least a dozen times to quit, it ain’t easy to give up – and the looks they got when they sparked up an occasional fag were uniformly appalled – even though months of NRT are just as bad, ’cause the nicotine’s the thing that’s really bad for unborn babies. Which, again, is why this stuff worries me: I can see a lot of people going “actually, that’s a good idea”. Getting women off the cigs and onto NRT isn’t an improvement.

    Gaaaah, I’m getting into the abortion debate here and I don’t want to…

    Incidentally, isn’t the biggest risk of smoking during pregnancy low birth weight? My mum smoked when she was pregnant with me, and I was huge. And I’ve turned out all right – a genius with amazing sporting prowess, the body of an adonis and a luxuriant mane of hair. Er…

  4. I have to say that, when I first read that, it struck me as related to the demonisation of smokers more than anything to do with the abortion debate. Maybe that’s just me.

    Apparently, drinking while pregnant can stunt the growth. I dread to think how tall I’d’ve been if my mother hadn’t been an alcoholic.

    One of the big problems with smoking while pregnant is that your baby is born addicted. Which means that, as if new-born babies weren’t already enough of a handful, you have to deal with a screaming baby that’s going cold turkey. Fun.

    Latest pregnancy trend in Hollywood is for even non-smokers to smoke during the third trimester in order to keep the baby small in order to have an easier delivery and get back to target weight as soon as possible after the birth. Bearing that quite scummy behaviour in mind, I can see why feelings in the US might be running a tad high on this subject just now.

  5. Wow, that’s pretty sick.

    Gary, not to get into the abortion debate, but how is seeing a foetus as alive related to seeing women as incubators? Anyway, I’m not sure it’s a first step to banning abortion, haven’t one of the states already banned abortion almost completely? Why take steps if you can go straight for the goal?

  6. …it really doesn’t matter what the exact issue is, the important thing with these zealots is that they have to always appear to be “holier than thou”, the witchcraft trials at Salem (and also in Europe as well) were not an abberation, the song remains the same…

  7. Gary

    > Latest pregnancy trend in Hollywood

    I wonder how prevalent that actually is, though. Papers are rather keen on running trend stories, when in many cases the trend is three people.

    > but how is seeing a foetus as alive related to seeing women as incubators?

    Well, I’m not saying everyone who wants to protect the kiddies is a rabid pro-lifer, but there’s a rather disturbing tendency among the latter group to see the baby as the be-all and end-all and the mother as irrelevant. IMO, naturally.

    > Why take steps if you can go straight for the goal?

    You could say the same thing about intelligent design, which has been helped considerably over the years by fundies joining school boards. That was a step towards a bigger goal, ID is another step, and arguably teaching creationism is a step too.

    > zealots

    Aye, zealots of any stripe are scary.

  8. I’ve never come across pro-lifers treating the mother as irrelevant.

  9. Gary

    Maybe I’m being unfair. The example that springs to mind is the incest/rape argument, where (to me at least) it’s a case of “it’s the baby that matters, not the mother”. I may be biased.

    BTW there’s a really nasty tale on Ministry of Truth this morning about ASBOs and racism. Made me utterly depressed…

  10. Yes, I think you are being biased there, ’cause you’re not even remotely comparing like with like. The argument offered with respect to rape cases is not that the baby matters and the mother doesn’t; it is that the baby’s life matters more than the mother’s trauma — indeed, that life matters more than trauma, full stop. I believe that my life matters more than your trauma — my being killed would be a worse thing than your being injured. That doesn’t mean that I think you don’t matter. (Incidentally, I also think that your being killed would be worse than my being injured. Yet, surprisingly, I think I matter.)