Monday, April 25, 2005

Unsex me here

What Lady Macbeth had to invoke spirits to get done, Congress does for me, unbidden. Here's her invocation: The raven himself is hoarse That croaks the fatal entrance of Duncan Under my battlements. Come, you spirits That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here, And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood; Stop up the access and passage to remorse, That no compunctious visitings of nature Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between The effect and it! Come to my woman's breasts, And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers, Wherever in your sightless substances You wait on nature's mischief! Come, thick night, And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell, That my keen knife see not the wound it makes, Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark, To cry 'Hold, hold!' Here's Congress's proposed definition of "Woman" (from Senate bill 51 and House bill 356): "WOMAN- The term 'woman' means a female human being who is capable of becoming pregnant, whether or not she has reached the age of majority." It's not as poetic as Shakespeare, but reading it fills me "from the crown to the toe top-full of direst cruelty." Oh, Lamar Alexander, how I cannot wait to vote against you. But, Elizabeth Dole, strange creature, certainly you are no longer capable of becoming pregnant. Do you mean to legislate yourself into a third gender?


Blogger Steve Pick said...

Well, golly gee willikers! It never occurred to me that whenever I would try to argue with conservatives that the actual definition of "male" and "female" isn't quite as clear and obvious as it may seem to those who think it has to do with the presence of a penis or a vagina, the Congress would go ahead and try to write a stupider definition themselves.

But, I think the concept of writing out of femalehood all the post-menapausal women, as well as any who are simply infertile, just might be fun to kick around on the old arguing and screaming talk shows for a couple of weeks. Bring it on. I can't wait to see what Mallard Fillmore makes of it.

4/25/2005 01:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does that mean I don't know if I'm a woman since I've never specifically tried to have children? I assume I can since everything else does what it should like they say it should, but nothing's for sure in this life. I figure I'll find out when I need to know, but what box do I check on all those pesky forms in the meantime?

Presumed to be a woman - SuperGenius

4/25/2005 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger the Professor said...

are you kidding me?
I read parts of the bill and there are at least two other definitions that are disconcerting, but this one is the worst. This bill points us back to previous posts where you explain how many men, espeically those that govern, seem to thinkthat women need to be punished for having and enjoying sex.
That they just assert that the fetus is a child already decides their position. But, this is of course not the place to have a decent debate on abortion. It can be human and be morally aborted, in my mind for sure. That thye define abortion as the intent to terminate pregnancy moves the conversation from viability (spontaneous and unexplained abortions are common, often without us even knowing we were pregnant).
Interestingly, this bill seems to give us a way to practice abortion safely - use anesthesia as part of the procedure. If they are concerned about PAIN here, not just the right to life, then solve for pain.

4/25/2005 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Okay, let's impose on our regularly visiting lawyer. I have some questions and I want the Legal Eagle to answer them. Please, LE, if you get a chance, join us in our discussion of S. 51 (HR 356).

1. Does anyone read bills to make sure they are internally consistant?

2. If a "woman" is defined a "female human being who is capable of becoming pregnant" isn't the phrase (also used in the legislation) "pregnant woman" an impossibility? A pregnant female human being is not "capable of becoming pregnant," therefore she's not, as defined by this legislation, a woman.

3. So, if by the internal logic of the bill, a pregnant female human being is not a woman, but the legislation is written to apply to pregnant women (which, by definition, cannot exist) would the legislation actually apply to anyone?

4. Please look at the definition of "abortion"--"The term 'abortion' means the intentional use or prescription of any instrument, medicine, drug, or any other substance or device to terminate the pregnancy of a woman known to be pregnant with an intention other than to increase the probablility of a live birth, to preserve the life or health of the child after a live birth, or to remove a dead fetus."

4a. What the fuck does that mean?
4b. Are they using "terminate" to mean "end in the delivery of a child" and not just "end a pregnancy?" If so, ignore 4a.

5. Sec. 2902--How is a "pain-capable unborn child" "in or affecting interstate commerce?"

5a. Are they letting fetuses drive semi-trucks now?

4/25/2005 04:08:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me first start out by saying that this is a pretty dumb law, which will have no material effect on the performance of abortions in this country and is designed as little more than an effort to make more unpalatable to the women who chose to exercise their still protected right. Going back to your discussion of a few days ago, imagine if instead of gynecological difficulties, you go to your doctor already preggers and he tells you that before he can perform an abortion, and lets assume that you are over the age of consent in whatever state you may happen to reside, but before he can perform this procedure, you must decide whether to provide anesthesia to your fetus, on the off chance that it may feel pain. Do you think that will have a chilling effect on the exercise?

Anyway, I will take your questions in reverse order because number 5 is the easiest. Congress does not have unlimited power to legislate, instead the Constitution permits their exercise of legislative power in only a few limited areas, interstate commerce being one. It is through the exercise of their "commerce clause" power that Congress has passed the EPA, Clean Air Act, Violence Against Women and Children Act, all of teh New Deal Legislation and untold number of abuses that would shock our founders.

4) Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy, by any means, except in those instances where the abortion is not actually an abortion. It is not an abortion, for purposes of the statute, if the procedure is intended to increase the probability of a live birth (mom has 5 buns in the oven, but it is more likely she can give birth to one bun if the rest are not aborted) or to preserve the health of baby after birth (again this would only seem applicable in multiple gestations, but maybe they figure if they not-abort the fetus during this pregnancy the next time mom will produce healthier offspring, but this is poorly written and would seem to be encompassed by the first one) or to remove a dead fetus is self-explanatory

2 & 3) are variations on a theme, in theory a law is supposed to be consistent, but in reality they rarely are. words in a statute are to be read in an attempt to give meaning to the statute, with the presumption being that the statute is valid and that the persons drafting the statute are not retarded. the phrase "pregnant woman" as used in the statute is not actually improper or impossible, however. The redundancies of the language are just read out of it.


hope this helps


4/25/2005 04:53:00 PM  
Blogger the Professor said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4/25/2005 05:14:00 PM  
Blogger Aunt B said...

Legal Eagle,

I disagree with you about every other second of the day, but good god damn, you come through on the smart, concise law shit. Hurray!


4/25/2005 05:40:00 PM  

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