Prochoice or Handmaiden's Tale in America: Men Legislating Your Body
In early 1960, Fran Avallone had a miscarriage at six months. She was bleeding on an examination table with the dead fetus already extracted and had to sit and wait while covered in blood and her legs open. Because it was 1960. They needed to investigate and prove she had a miscarriage and had not committed manslaughter. During the unbelievably tragic event of losing a wanted child far into pregnancy – she had to sit in her own blood before evidence could be turned over to the police.
In 1973, the Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade and abortion became legal with restrictions.
In 1996, Angela Carder was 26 weeks pregnant and was being treated for cancer. Her doctors considered a C-section even though they did not think her fetus was viable. She was too heavily medicated to make her own decision, but her family said not to do the procedure because it might kill her. The hospital feared legal liability and a Court intervened. They determined the government’s interest in the child outweighed the mother’s and ordered the procedure. The fetus and the mother both died during the surgery.
In 1999, Regina McKnight was sentenced to 15 years in prison for homicide after she had a stillbirth that was allegedly caused by cocaine use. It took 8 years before she was released after medical evidence proved the baby died from an infection – not drugs.
In 2003, Michelle Greenup went to the hospital with unexplained vaginal bleeding. She was charged with second-degree murder. She was incarcerated for nearly a year before her counsel obtained her medical records and proved she had a miscarriage.
In 2004, Melissa Rowland was pregnant with twins and refused a C-section because she was given misinformation by medical staff about the invasive nature of the incision. One twin was stillborn. Melissa Rowland was charged with first degree criminal homicide. Sentencing ranges from 5 years to life in prison.
In 2010, Christine Taylor fell down a flight of stairs at her home. She was pregnant with her third child and went to the hospital to make sure the fetus was not harmed. She was arrested for attempted feticide.
In 2011, Bei Bei Shuai was clinically depressed and attempted suicide while pregnant. She lived, but her fetus was stillborn. She was charged with murder.
In 2013, Purvi Patel went to the emergency room with severe bleeding. She had miscarried and put the fetus in a dumpster out of fear from her religious family who did not believe in premarital sex. Despite no abortifacient found in her blood stream – she was sentenced to 20 years in prison for neglect of a dependent and feticide.
Between 1979 and 2014, peer reviewed studies show at least 793 women have been legally detained against their will due to their pregnancy.
“Detained” includes a Laura Pamberton who was in active labor in Florida in 1996. She wanted to give birth at home because she believed a C-section would hurt her and her child. Her doctor sought emergency court intervention because he believed vaginal birth could harm the baby. The police came to Laura’s house, restrained her, *strapped her legs together*, and forced her to go to the hospital. Counsel argued for the fetus. Laura and her husband were not given any right to counsel. Laura was forced to have a C-section. Later, she gave vaginal birth to 3 other children without complication.
All of this has happened while abortion is still legal with restrictions.
Now, states are challenging Roe v. Wade with the most restrictive bans on abortion in half a century.
Kentucky, Georgia, Mississippi, and Ohio passed a “fetal heartbeat” bill banning abortion at 6 weeks. It’s important to understand:
(1) “Fetal Heartbeat” is just a 6-week ban. There is no “fetal heartbeat” at 6 weeks. A 6-week pregnancy is not a “fetus” – it is an embryo. And an embryo does not have a heartbeat. The “heartbeat” is a collection of vibrating cells at the fetal pole.
(2) 6 weeks is so early in pregnancy you could miscarry and *not know you were pregnant*. Especially if you were on birth control at the time. At the 7th week, even if you wanted the pregnancy, you will be investigated if you miscarry. If the investigation shows your actions lead to the miscarriage (see above) – you could face life in prison or the death penalty.
Missouri just passed an 8-week ban. There is no exception for rape or incest. One law maker said a girl raped by her father should be forced to give birth to the child for the father’s right to use the evidence to prove whether he raped her.
Alabama just passed an abortion ban as soon as the egg is fertilized. There is no exception for rape, incest, or the mother dying from the pregnancy.
And in case it isn’t 100% clear that these laws are about punishing women, an Alabama law maker brought up that medical facilities have fertilized eggs that are discarded during the in vitro fertilization process. Under this law – that is an abortion.
However, when asked how the law would affect those eggs – the Alabama bill’s sponsor said, “The egg in the lab doesn’t apply. It’s not a woman. She’s not pregnant.”
This month, in May, 2019, in Ohio an 11 year old child was raped. She is pregnant. Once Ohio’s current ban goes into effect – the government will force her to remain pregnant and give birth.
Do not think for one second that these laws will not have serious consequences on anyone who can give birth. Not just those who choose to have an abortion. These laws mean the government investigate miscarriages. It means providing a zygote with an attorney, but not the mother or father. It means jail. It means women dying.
This isn’t hypothetical. This is real. It has happened before. It is happening now. Take it very f*cking seriously.
Posted by Coral Anika Theill
Author, Advocate, Speaker & Reporter
D.V., Rape, & Ritual Abuse Victim/Survivor
Memoir: Bonshea Making Light of the Dark
Website: www .coralanikatheill.com
During my marriage I was required to be a "helpmeet" in a world like the one from Margaret Atwood's dystopian novel "The Handmaiden’s Tale. My abuser used coercive control, isolation and intimidation tactics to strip me of my personhood, safety and freedoms as a United States citizen.
"We are women resisting hetero-sexist patriarchy and valuing women as human beings—and other women [and men] can choose to do this, too. Patriarchy is also practiced in our courtrooms."- Coral Anika Theill
I choose to not participate in the silence that protects perpetrators and isolates survivors.
I will continue to seek justice from a corrupted system that protects those in power and rejects those without the resources to seek redress from the corruptors.
"I have spent long hours trying to make some sense of my life and have come to the conclusion that when horror overcomes us the only response possible is to remember what happened and tell the story." - Coral Anika Theill, Bonshea Making Light of the Dark
Coral Anika Theill was a victim of MARITAL RAPE while married to her abusive husband, Marty Warner, Independence Oregon. Coral's story of survival was published March 1, 2018 in RECLAMATION: A Survivor's Analogy
by the NYC Alliance Against Sexual Assault & Survivor's Magazine https://www.coralanikatheill.com/single-post/2018/04/12/METOO-RECLAMATION-A-Survivors-Anthology-by-Survivors-of-Sexual-Assault