Put aside your mixing bowl of cookie batter, or lapful of tatting, or supermarket tabloid, or whatever inconsequential thing is occupying your tiny little attention span at the moment. Gather around. Old Uncle Neil has something important to discuss exclusively with my female readership.
And no, this isn’t another liberal cri de coeur — whoops, sorry gals, “cry from the heart” — over Donald Trump’s raging sexism, his continual put-downs of women and descent into vulgarity. Yes, that kind of thing is infectious. No doubt part of the pathology explaining why Trump is the unspoken male desire among his reality TV fans to get back to living in a man’s world. Less worrying about bruising the delicate sensitivities of feminists. More seeing who can pee the farthest.
To be honest, a Trump nomination, while steadily moving from impossible farce to inevitable tragedy, is in my mind still among the realm of Things too Awful to Imagine. And perhaps with good reason. The GOP establishment isn’t frantic because of Trump’s policy stands — they agree with him; they want a wall. No, they’re frantic because in any half-sane world, Trump loses to Hillary Clinton.
Though I’m beginning to suspect we no longer live in that half-sane world. Forget the dismal future. Let’s talk about the dismal present, right here, or at least next door, in Indiana. You’ve been to Indiana, perhaps driving on Interstate 80 to more interesting places out east. Indiana is what the whole country would look like if the Civil Rights movement never happened.
Last week, the Indiana legislature passed HB 1337, a Texas-grade restriction of abortion rights. And were it merely that, merely requiring abortion doctors to have hospital admitting privileges, merely requiring the murderess-to-be to listen to the beating heart of the life she’s snuffing out, it wouldn’t be worth comment. Not with the Cirque de Colere — sorry sweetheart, “Circus of Anger” — going on our national political life.
The law, awaiting Gov. Mike Pence’s eager signature, “provides that a miscarried or aborted fetus must be interred or cremated by a facility having possession of the remains.”
In plain English, the fetus, being a full-fledged person must either be cremated or buried. Because it’s a baby. So it can’t be disposed of like medical waste and certainly can’t be used in scientific research. The law also forbids that.
On the plus side, the law does specifically release killers from the obligation of naming their babies — though it does raise the issue — before burying them. Broadminded of Indiana. Nor does it specify the type of coffin, though I assume mahogany will be popular and surprisingly affordable given the small size.
The 2015 Uncle Neil would have called this is a free speech issue that the courts will toss out because the law forces women to not only endorse but underwrite a religious view of the world — fetuses are babies who must be buried — that they do not themselves hold. The same people who feel a baker shouldn’t be obligated to bake a cake for a gay couple are all too willing to obligate a woman to pay for her fetus’ funeral. It’s a mandatory ritual, very close to a law requiring all children to be baptized.
Plus the law forbids abortions performed for specific reasons — because the fetus has Down syndrome “or any other disability,” or is of a particular race or gender. Only a woman who didn’t want a child, generally, can have an abortion. Those who want one because a baby would be born anencephalic, well, tough lucky, honey.
But free speech is so 2015. We’ve sailed off into terra incognito — sorry sister, “unknown lands” — and you make enough hard turns to the right and you end up heading backward.
The idea that women can work at jobs and have careers is predicated on their ability to control their own bodies. Once that is undermined completely, we might find ourselves in a world very different than what we’ve had. Women in Iran 40 years ago enjoyed far more freedom than they do today. They let their rights be taken away by religious fanatics. Think it can’t happen here? It already is.
Don’t blame Donald Trump. He isn’t a cause, he’s a symptom.
OK, thanks for turning your pretty little faces in my direction, and tolerating my attempt to ape Trump’s sexism. If you’re offended by my faux condescending tone, well, I hope you grasp that the reality being forged over in Indiana and around the country should offend you far, far more. But if you don’t, well, fiddle dee dee. You can think about it tomorrow.