Monday, May 05, 2008

That battleground of women's bodies

On April 29, Michelle Behles of Garrison, North Dakota was sentenced to five years in prison. Following time served, she will be placed on probation for an additional five years.

Michelle's crime? The death of her 'unborn child.'

In September 2007, Behles was rushed by ambulance to the hospital. She had overdosed on prescription medications and her fetus, more than 29 weeks along at the time, did not survive. Along with drug charges (her prescriptions were obtained using a fake name), Behles also plead guilty to "endangering a child or vulnerable adult."

Behles' attorney, Tom Glass attempted to have that charge dismissed because ND law does not consider a fetus to be a child. State's Attorney Ladd Erickson argued that:



A child is defined by North Dakota law as "an individual who is under 18 years of age." And unborn children are not excluded from that definition.

The judge agreed but Behles may still appeal the verdict to the ND Supreme Court.

The idea that women can be held criminally responsible for harm to a fetus is troublesome. We know that drug and alcohol abuse during pregnancy carries significant risk factors. However, granting a fetus full personhood will have great implications on how we treat women.

Anti-choicers argue that life begins the moment sperm and egg meet. Anti-choicers also argue that taking the pill could result in a fertilized egg being shed during menstruation. Ergo, women lose prescription contraception. By lowering women's status to "incubator for the unborn" we give up the right to say what happens to our bodies. Can a woman have any say over her body if the fetus is considered its own person? Consider legislation in Oklahoma....

Feministe reports that new laws force pregnant women seeking abortion to undergo ultrasound. Forcing a medical procedure on an un-consenting woman sends a disturbing message.



The law states that either an abdominal or vaginal ultrasound, whichever gives the best image of the fetus, must be done. Neither the patient nor the doctor can decide which type of ultrasound to use, and the patient cannot opt out of the ultrasound and still have the procedure. In effect, then, the legislature has mandated that a woman have an instrument placed in her vagina for no medical benefit. The law makes no exception for victims of rape and incest.

If the patient can't decide, and the doctor can't decide, then …. WHO DECIDES? Who decides what happens to women's bodies? Blogger, Jill Filipovic points out that ultrasounds are expensive and will therefore further hinder women seeking abortion but more importantly…



Nobody should be forced to undergo a medical procedure against their will. Nobody should have to undergo an invasive, expensive, non-consensual and wholly unnecessary procedure as a prerequisite for another procedure. No right-thinking person should promote a law that requires doctors to penetrate a woman's vagina with a medical instrument against her will


Being pro-choice means recognizing that our body is our own. How long until these concepts are carried to their logical conclusion? Should all women of child-bearing age be given pre-natal vitamins? Will the police show up to investigate every miscarriage? Will pregnant women be sent home from work for the health of the 'unborn'?

I'm going to start looking in the mirror every morning and pointing out body parts. Eyes—mine. Hands- mine. Lips—mine. Breasts—mine. Uterus—mine. It's all my body. It's not here for anyone else to touch, force open, force me to do… force me to bring life- nothing should be done against my will. I will not be forced.

No woman should be forced.

23 comments:

Adrienne said...

I have an idea, Tobes. You and I should open a one-stop shop for counseling, midwifery, and herbal abortifacients. In 1600 we'd be witches.

Tobes said...

DUDE-- YES

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I am wrong, but don't most states have a legal limit on when a woman can have an abortion? If so, then it makes sense for an abortion clinic to make sure they are not killing a fetus which is beyond the legal time frame. An ultrasound seems like the best way to do that. Frankly, an ultrasound before an abortion doesn't sound like a big deal, since many medical procedures require prerequisite medical procedures. I think a limited time frame on abortion should be required because at some point, the fetus becomes conscious and sensitive to pain. This is when personhood should begin. The usual assumption that life begins at conception is simply wrong. Life began approximately 4.6 billion years ago and it has manifested itself in the form of sperm, eggs, zygotes, fetuses, neonates and etc. Consciousness is the most salient feature of personhood and this is where abortion should end. The science is pretty consistent as to when consciousness begins and I think may state laws are in accordance with it.

The Red Queen said...

Dear Anonymous-

I need a kidney. You have made the mistake of being in a place near a person who needs a kidney without proper protection and now you must suffer the consequences. I am a living being and without your kidney I will die. So despite the fact that it is an expensive and dangerous operation that you will have to risk you life for, I think the government should force you to give me your kidney.

Yeah- that whole feeling pain, being alive crap doesn't work there does it? No one can force you to risk your life and health for someone else, why should women be forced to risk our lives and health AGAINST OUR WILL for someone else? Because we happen to have a uterus? You happen to have two working kidneys.

Yes- ultrasounds are used frequently in abortion procedures- when they are necessary . They are not necessary if the aim is to make women feel guilty over an already difficult decision. Maybe you should be forced to watch ultrasounds of non-functioning kidneys all day until you change your mind and give me your kidney?

sigh said...

yes, yes, yes. It is mine!

mouse said...

And lets not forget the list of what could possibly harm a fetus is ever growing: fish, peanut butter, soft cheese, soft-serve ice cream, coffee, gardening, stress... I know I'm missing some. With many of these useful statistics - you know how many fetuses are harmed, the level of damage, the amount needed to do damage- are absent. Some seem to be based entirely on the premise that potential harm is the same as actual harm and no further study is needed. Because no real mother would allow for even the potential of harm when it's just a question of her comfort and autonomy. The desire to use children to control women extends in all directions.

I shudder at the thought of these becoming part of an enforceable law.

bellacoker said...

I hate to posit a slippery slope argument, but this is scarily close to blaming women for their failure to breed perfect babies and making laws which do not treat pregnant women as full adult citizens with all of the rights of, well, men.

anonymoustoo said...

red queen--

yes, but you willingly participated in the creation of the unborn child, whereas anonymous did not participate in your kidney failure. i'll agree that its shitty that father's don't share as much of the 'blame' or 'problem' after sex happens, but everyone who has sex knows that sex=babies (i know, i know, there is sex and incest and that is an obvious exception); and you are that baby's mother. i can only imagine that you won't post my comment, but i'm just saying that your comment sounds pretty heartless. anonymous giving a stranger a kidney against his will is completely different than you carrying a child that you created to term, where you can give it to someone else at your leisure.

Tobes said...

Anonymous: "you willingly participated in the creation of the unborn child"

No. She willingly (hopefully) had sex. That doesn't mean she wanted to conceive.

Your argument is tantamount to saying "women are getting what they deserve."

Women are not obligated to put their body through the perils of pregnancy if they do not want to be pregnant. Just as a donor match is not obligated to give up a kidney to preserve some other ‘life.’

Anonymous: "everyone who has sex knows that sex=babies"

No, conception = babies (and that’s if you avoid miscarriage, stillbirth etc). Sex doesn't equal babies. Sex = pleasure, intimacy and the POSSIBILITY of pregnancy in the event that you are unprotected or protection fails. Plenty of people have sex everyday with no intention or desire to have a baby.

Anonymous: "you can give it to someone else at your leisure."

What exactly is leisurely about carrying a pregnancy to term and then giving the child away?? When you make simplistic arguments like this I don't even have the energy to explain the 1,999,999 ways that is misinformed.

The Red Queen said...

Having actually carried a pregnancy to term (despite serious health complications- I'm only kinda hyprbolic about the kidney) I can pretty much say there isn't anything leisure-like about pregnancy.

But I chose to stay pregnant. I wasn't forced to stay pregnant when it damn near killed me.

And that is the point. If it is okay to force one person to risk there life for another person in one situation, then it has to be okay to force a different person to risk their life in a different situation. You cannot hold one set of people (women) to a different standard than you hold everyone else (men).

And yes Tobes- it was consensual and a lot of fun iirc.

ouyangdan said...

hahaha...tobes i was going to take on that response...but you beat me to it!

fitting, since it is your blog.

i am amazed at how many ass hats troll around here and yet do not even have the creativity to come up w/ a handle.

Tobes said...

Red Queen: "and a lot of fun" -- all the better!

Ouyangdan: "i am amazed at how many ass hats troll around here and yet do not even have the creativity to come up w/ a handle."

AMEN. What the hell? Is anonymous the best they could do?

Anonymous said...

the red queen said: "No one can force you to risk your life and health for someone else, why should women be forced to risk our lives and health AGAINST OUR WILL for someone else?" I don't understand what you mean by the word "forced." I don't believe anyone is forcing women to have sex, which is a health risk in itself. If women do get pregnant, they have the option to terminate the pregnancy within a given period of time. Force is not being used to make women terminate or remain pregnant. If a woman goes beyond the legal time frame for an abortion, then she is responsible for the fetus, at least until he/she is born. This is no different than the responsibility biological parents have for a neonate, baby, toddler, and etc. Offspring at any age can be perceived as a liability. They can increase stress, decrease biological immunity, marital strife, financial strain and increase the chance of suicide(PPD). The law generally doesn't approve of women killing kids just because they are a liability and include potential risk. Why would it be any different with conscious, feeling fetus that is about ready to leave the womb? Denying women the right to kill fetus is hardly force because women have many opportunities to terminate a pregnancy and prevent pregnancy. The fact of the matter is, most state laws related to abortion are balanced. Women and fetuses have rights up to a point and that is the way it should be.

The Red Queen said...

Sorry that trollery has pushed this off topic. It started with a fab post about how women are now being held criminally responsible for their behavior to themselves while pregnant.

And for obvious reasons- anony trolls one and two can't seem to understand that it is a woman's own body. It does not belong to the fetus. If the fetus were gone, the woman would still survive, but the fetus is quite actually a parasite for 40 weeks.

Now once a child is actually born- you can hand the child over to someone else. You are no longer the food and life support system for another creature. ANYONE can care for a baby, mom, dad, grandma, nurse, doctor. Doesn't matter.

Now people do stuff all the time that fucks with other people's health. They smoke, they drive cars, they use pesticides on produce, they decide to grow crops for biofuels instead of food. But we don't hold any of those people criminally responsible for causing cancer or starvation.

But women, pregnant women, we hold to a higher standard than everyone else. They be found criminally responsible for doing things to their own bodies.

And as for the not being forced if you miss the government deadline for getting an abortion- I like to tell a little story about that.

A dear friend of mine in TN was pregnant with a very much wanted baby. She was near term. The baby twisted itself around the umbilical cord and died in utero. Because of the archaic abortion laws she had to go through labor and delivery of her stillborn infant because the hospital could not do the procedure that would spare her from it.

That is being forced to carry a pregnancy. So please- you who have obviously never been pregnant- shut your pie hole. You know nothing of what you speak.

Anne Onne said...

Hats off to Tobes and The Red Queen. Seriously.

There is no excuse acceptable for forcing someone to carry a foetus to term. End of.

Trolls are the nast side of blogging, unfortunately. But their arguments hold so little water, it's kind of hard to stay mad... :)

Tobes said...

Thanks Anne Onne! :) I have to hand it to Red Queen, I am glad someone said it cause I just didn't have the energy...

anonymoustoo/asshat said...

Wow. I thought you guys were interested in an actual discussion; where I was actually interested in knowing more about how the whole kidney thing was related to abortion, because I wasn't seeing it. Now I realize that you guys would rather call me names and ignore me as a 'troll' rather than try to actually explain something to me.

by choosing the handle 'anonymoustoo' i was trying to be facetious. it seems like everyone who wants to argue with you decides to be anonymous. apparently, that makes me a coward, even though 'the red queen' and 'tobes' doesn't do anything to tell me more about your identity than 'anonymous' does about mine.

I appreciate the red queen's second post, which DID help me understand a little bit more about what you all meant. I don't understand the point of this/any blog if it isn't to educate people.

and ps-- i have been pregnant. so go to hell.

and also: I will not return to this blog. For the record I've never met a pro-lifer who explained their point of view, let me explain mine, and then called me names and said because I didn't understand I must be an asshat.

I know you don't have to be nice to me, but if I'd known that you were just wanting to pat each other on the back ignore/pick on everyone else, I never would have come here to begin with.

Tobes said...

Anonymous/Asshat: To be quite honest, all handles with 'anonymous' in them receive the same treatment from me, which is usually hostile.

Everyone "anonymous" tends to be doing something called "trolling" -- meaning coming here looking to pick a fight, get us off topic, 'prove' us wrong or just be insulting.

You were pandering pro-life lines of "it's the woman's responsibility" etc. and big red "troll" lights came on.

I don't know you and we're communicating online-- therefore I'm not very delicate in my treatment of you. That can be a weakness but here's the deal...

I don't believe for one second you were trying to 'learn' from us. You have your mind made up and you think we should see the light. We don't. This shit is insanely personal so we come at it as such.

You gotta understand that to us, you are just another anonymous and from what you were saying, there's no way for us to believe you wanted to have some sort of deep discussion.

You were trying to prove us wrong. Instead we came back at you with some big ideas that scared you (and we weren't exactly pleasant while doing it.)

I don't blame you for hating. But someone who was really interested in learning about this issue and listening to this point of view would... ummm.... listen?

If the original post and this subsequent discussion hasn't hit home the issue of bodily autonomy already, you probaly need to do some more reflecting.

Oh also--- I never made any comments about you being pregnant. Didn't even know you had a uterus until now, so there ya go...

Best of luck.

Anonymous said...

Red queen said, "...trolls one and two can't seem to understand that it is a woman's own body. It does not belong to the fetus. If the fetus were gone, the woman would still survive, but the fetus is quite actually a parasite for 40weeks." I cannot speak for the other anonymous commenter, but I certainly understand the radical pro-choice argument. It goes something like this: “Women should have absolute control over the body and bodily processes. Pregnancy is a process that takes place in the body. Therefore, women should have absolute control over pregnancy.” I believe you are confusing understanding with agreement. I do not believe women should have absolute control over their bodies when they are carrying a conscious and feeling fetus because I consider a conscious and feeling fetus a legal person and are entitled to some rights. If a fetus has some rights, then it follows that a woman’s rights would be somewhat limited. Limited rights are norm and absolute power is not. We live in a democracy remember? Given this premise, I do not believe women should be given absolute control over their bodies when they are carrying a conscious and feeling baby. I believe women should be responsible for a fetus, and if a women demonstrates neglect that entails death, she should be criminally prosecuted and penalized. We criminally prosecute biological parents and legal guardians who starve or intentionally injure their children, why should it be different for a fetus who is fed through a placenta and lives in a womb? As for your parasite analogy it doesn’t apply. Parasites either select you or they are unintentionally taken in. Fetuses do not select a woman and they are not unintentionally taken in. In fact, a woman co-creates a fetus and, sometimes, they are selected by women. Women have the freedom to co-create and select a fetus, and, as with all freedom, it should be coupled with responsibility for the vulnerable fetus that has been created.

Red Queen said, "But we don't hold any of those people criminally responsible for causing cancer or starvation." You have selected examples which have a long string of causation and extraneous variables. Try citing examples that are actually comparable to abortion. In other words, select examples which are a short, clear string of causation (directly kils others)There are plenty of examples where we do hold people criminally responsible for causing harm to others. For example, starving and abusing children. I would say killing a fetus when it is conscious and can feel pain would fall into the latter category.

Red queen said, "But women, pregnant women, we hold to a higher standard than everyone else. They be found criminally responsible for doing things to their own bodies." The fact is you are not just doing something to your own body, but you are also doing something to a fetal body. Have you forgotten the principle of interdependence?

Red queen said, "Because of the archaic abortion laws she had to go through labor and delivery of her stillborn infant because the hospital could not do the procedure that would spare her from it." The problem is not that current abortion laws do not apply to many abortion circumstances, but, instead, they simply do not apply to special circumstances like the one you have used. In this case, I will agree the woman is being unnecessarily forced to carry a dead fetus to term. The law should be changed to address this kind of situation.

In sum, what have I learned while participating in this blog? I have learned that many of you who use this blog are not emotionally mature. Many of you use hostile language and negative labels and then request that others understand your point of view. It seems if you want people to understand your point of view you wouldn't blind them with insults. Moreover, it seems you would want to proof read your arguments to they are clear. Plus, you might want to review your arguments to make sure they are somewhat logical. As for my review of the arguments put forth thus far, they are not persuasive because they lack sound logic. Again, I personally understand the radical feminist argument related to pregnancy. I simply don't agree with it because it short-sighted and and narrow in scope. It is more divisive than constructive, and it is so narrow that is can hardly be a realistic solution in our society, which is comprised of pro-lifers and pro-choicers. It's really too bad most of you have fallen for such an idealistic and impractical ideology. What's worse is that your ideology has consummed you to the point you are no longer capable of common decency. Your lack of decency says a lot about you and, in turn, shapes the image people have of feminism. Basically, you aren't representing feminism as well as you could be. Please, remember you are dealing with humans on this blogs...not objects or things.

Tobes said...

Anonymous

Your argument lacks the most basic logic of all-- the fact that you keep referring to the fetus as conscious and feeling pain is um.... wrong.

Some facts:

“The embryo or fetus cannot feel pain before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Nearly all — 99 percent — of abortions are done before 20 weeks. It is even possible that a fetus is unable to perceive pain at any time during pregnancy. If, however, the ability to feel pain does develop before birth and consciousness, it is likely to happen only after the 28th week of pregnancy, when abortion is performed only for rare, unusual medical situations.”

“A fetus of 12 weeks cannot in any way be compared to a fully formed functioning person. At this stage only rudiments of the organ systems are present. The fetus is unable to sustain life outside the woman’s womb, it is incapable of conscious thought; it is incapable of essential breathing. It is instead an in utero fetus with the potential of becoming a child.”

Your entire argument is based on parroting anti-choice rhetoric that women are killing a person capable of conscious thought and pain. This is simply not true.

You said: “Limited rights are norm and absolute power is not. We live in a democracy remember?”

Please explain to us why these limited rights you love are only directed at women and their bodies.

Being pro-choice means staunchly defending the rights of a fully formed, conscious, pain-feeling woman to direct her reproductive destiny. Anti-choicers like you use that type of logic to deny contraception and force pregnancy on women. If a woman does not wish to be pregnant, it is inhuman to deny her basic rights over her body and medical future by forcing her to bring a fetus to term.

You said: “I believe women should be responsible for a fetus, and if a woman demonstrates neglect that entails death, she should be criminally prosecuted and penalized. We criminally prosecute biological parents and legal guardians who starve or intentionally injure their children, why should it be different for a fetus who is fed through a placenta and lives in a womb?”

Under your argument women lose even more rights. We should punish pregnant women suffering from anorexia and lock up alcoholics who can’t stop drinking during pregnancy. Maybe we should force women into ‘confinement’ as they used to do that way the fetus is completely protected from any wrongful action on part of the mother?

You said: “Try citing examples that are actually comparable to abortion. In other words, select examples which are a short, clear string of causation (directly kills others)”

Okay, let’s get hypothetical and since the kidney donation didn’t seem to hit home, I’ll make it even MORE like abortion.

Let’s say you have my blood type and you’ve gotten drunk and made a bad choice by driving drunk. YOU hit ME with your car. I am dying but I can be saved if our bodies are hooked up with IVs. My life is dependent on you for the next 9 months. I’ll need constant blood transfusions and nutrients from your body. Sound fair? I mean, you made the choice to drive drunk and then you drove you car right into me. You’ve created this vulnerable victim, shouldn’t you be responsible?

Oh by the way, that whole 9 months, you have to drag me everywhere. You’ll need to spend a good sum on medical bills for us. You’ll need to completely change your lifestyle to accommodate me (only certain foods, vitamin supplements, no drinking, no caffeine). You may experience great discomfort or develop diabetes or any number of other serious conditions. You’ll have to pee a lot and you may throw up… A LOT. You also may be fine, but you still have to drag me everywhere and may probably have to endure a lot of questioning about it. You’ll miss a LOT of work taking me to medical appointments and on days when you don’t feel physically up to working. After I’m all better you can take several weeks off work for a painful procedure where I can be detached….

Oh an could take care of me financially and emotionally for the next 18 years? Of course, you could outsource that work and give me away, but lots of people will have questions about that too and it’s quite possible that the emotional toll may cause some serious depression and anxiety.

Anonymous, I don’t know how much longer you and I can do this dance. I don’t believe in your ideals and you certainly don’t believe in mine. I don’t trust people like you who find it all too easy to brush aside the rights of living, breathing, conscious women.

The thing that really irks me is --- you want us to feel BAD. You think we’re emotionally stunted because arguments like that piss us off. You think it’s wrong that we call you out and refuse to see your “super logical awesome argument” that a collection of cells trumps the life of a woman.

Your thinking is misogynistic and the fact that you keep commenting on my blog and then whining that our disgust is “bad for feminism” (as if you had a good opinion of feminists to begin with) is really wearing thin.

If I were running for political office, I’d be more careful in how I addressed your view. But since I’m not courting the “forced pregnancy/pro-life/anti-birth control vote,” I’ll tell you how I really feel.

No matter how well constructed your argument may seem to you, it doesn’t hold up here.

Anonymous said...

Tobes, I feel you are misunderstanding my point of view. I am not talking about 20 week old fetuses. I am talking about fetuses which are, for the most part, neurologically developed. A developed fetal brain would entail consciousness and the ability to sense and register pain. The fetus discussed in the original post was neurologically developed (29 weeks) to point where he/she was conscious and able to sense and register pain. Given this fact (review the neurological research on when consciousness emerges and sensations are felt, it stands to reason that the woman should be held legally responsible for the welfare her fetus, if we consider consciousness a primary characteristic of a legal person. Now, you have stated that 99% of fetuses are aborted before 20 weeks. I am fine with that because consciousness has yet to emerge. I believe most state laws on abortion are in accordance with the emergence of consciousness. One last correction, I never said I was against contraception. You are arguing against a straw man. I am pro-contraception and pro-abortion-prior-to-consciousness. Please argue against what I say not what you imagine. The drunk driving analogy is tool of rhetoric, not an argument. It doesn't make any of your other claims more true. It simply helps persuade others to believe your other claims are more true. Frankly, it has not persuaded me in the least. The fact is, I seek a balanced approach to abortion. Do you? Remember Tobes...I like you so it is nothing personal okay? :)

Anne Onne said...

But we DON'T consider consiousness as the primary thing that defines a person, legally. And that's not even getting into what kind of consiousness a foetus has.

The point is, it shouldn't matter how 'consious' a lifeform is in relation to whether it has the right to use someone else's organs. Your hypothetical siblings are alive, and actually consious beings at this instance, with thoughts and opinions and full lives of their own. Yet, no matter how consious they are, they don't have the legal right to demand to be hooked up to your kidneys, or take one from you, if they need one. You have the full right to refuse to give them a kidney, certain in the knowledge that they would die. Whatever it may be ethically, it is still a decision that is yours to make. I just saw that Tobes has already covered this analogy, but maybe it'll hit home if it's explained enough. One kidney to support a family member is a lot less to ask than carrying a foetus in you for nine months. It carries less risk to your entire body than forced pregnancy and childbirth. Childbirth is a common process, but it is not a risk-free one. And let's not forget that you have to look after that child for a long, long time afterwards, or face the emotional wrench of giving it up.

Abortion would only be unnecesaary or wrong if women could magically know that they had a fertilised egg, and magically stop it from implanting each and every time. As it is, they can't. Not with contraception, not with the morning after pill.

And why would forcing women to carry a foetus they really don't want be a good thing?

I'm also surprised that you feel ganged up on if two whole feminists disagree with you, and go to pains to explain what they feel. Tobes is one of the more patient feminists I've seen out there in explaining her reasoning to people who come in randomly to pick arguments.

You know why you probably didn't face any kind of disagreement from pro-life sites? They probably agree with you. See, most feminist aren't interested in going around trying to convert pro-livers by force or spamming their blogs. But ironically, this isn't reciprocated by pro-lifers, who like to swarm pro-choice blogs, demanding that their views be given sicophantic consideration, or everything explained in painful detail over and over again. If you want someone to agree with you, don't go to a blog that represents another viewpoint.

Tobes and the REd Queen have explained exactly why they liken forced pregnancy to forced organ transplant or forced blood donation, and have written long detailed, fairly patient replies. If that's not enough, maybe this is the wrong place. I'd tell you to check out http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/
because it's a basics blog where people migth actually answer in the manner you want.

And anonymous? Believing a woman's body is her own isn't a 'radical' belief, it underpins pretty much all of feminism or every flavour.

Tobes, TRQ, if trolls and their inability to actually read a reply, and frequent 'but why? But why? But why?' respdonses make you frustrated, just remind yourselves that the real reason we engage questions isn't to educate the person we engage, but mainly for the benefit of those lurkers reading. They might think that if there isn't an answer to a random trollish comment, that feminism doesn't have an answer, or that the troll might be right. :D

Anne Onne said...

Oh, and for the organ/blood donation comparision: we don't demand that someone likely to give an organ or blood has to act a certain way, or take certain actions with their body, though it might affect the eventual health of the recipient. We don't legally force them to take vitamins, or never drink, or whatever else may be reccomended. We give them the final say over their own body, even when they have agreed to support someone else with it.

Pregnant women deserve the same. Criminalising women's choices, and pressuring them transfers power over a woman's body to the state, or onlookers, who decide what's best for her because she's pregnant. This only hurts women addicted to drugs or drink. Yes, people should have information to know what risks there might be with any behaviour during pregnancy, and they should be allowed to make their own choices. After all, they'll be the ones looking after the child. It's not perfect, because foetal alcohol syndrome is not an easy thing to deal with, but the other choice is policing women for nine months, as if they are prisoners! We don't have any legal rights to stop someone slowly killing themselves through smoking or any other bad habit, because it's their body. And unfortunately, up until the baby is born, it is a lodger in someone else's body, with no guarantee it will 'survive' all the way to birth and live as a separate entity.

Besides, if we continue this further and further closer to conception and before, where will it end? There are many things both women and men do that might reduce the quality of their gametes, and cause problems for the eventual child. But of course, we can't demand every person of breeding age does anythign with their body unless they have children.

If we let women have the rights over theor bodies that they deserve, you won't have a huge sudden increase in lots of harmful things, because most people take sound advice when given. But to you save all pregnant women from being treated like animals for 9 months.