Word today (h/t Salon via Atrios) that the government now is asking all American women to act as if they are pregnant, whether or not they actually are.
On the one hand this makes good sense: some children, as we all know, are indeed the result of unintentional pregnancies, and it would be healthier for those children if their mothers were healthy to start with. I'm all for having women in general, and mothers in particular, be healthy. It's virtuous. It's nurturing. It's American. Heck, it's even attractive.
On the other hand, it's hard not to see this as yet another harmless-seeming but nevertheless sinister step toward government domination of women's wombs. This is an administration that sees no difference between religious dogma and public health: Catholic hospitals don't need to offer contraceptives to rape victims; Christian pharmacists don't need to fill birth control prescriptions even if the Rx is for irregular menses; a fundamentalist Christian OB/Gyn who routinely drugged and paid his wife for anal sex (and claimed he only engaged in the sin of sodomy because he couldn't tell the difference between an anus and a vagina) singlehandedly blocked over-the-counter sale of Plan B.
After enough instances of that kind, it's hard not to suspect that at least some of those responsible for unveiling this initiative (after 20 years of discussion) are doing so, not solely because it's healthy for women and children, but because it helps establish government dominion of every woman's womb as a potential temple of Life.
Yes, every right-thinking woman in America should watch her weight and quit smoking and drink only within reason. Yes, women who may become pregnant should be even more careful about those things than men should, for the sake of any children they might have -- as an ethical matter, not a religious one. For the same reasons, everyone who cares about the health of mothers and children should also work to reduce mercury levels in fish, protect clean water, oppose industries that emit lead and dioxins, and, in general, vote Democrat. But that last set of initiatives doesn't do anything to dhimmi-ize women, so they get short shrift from theocrats.
In other words, be healthy, but also be clear that it's because you choose to be, not because a bunch of Christian Nativists are telling you to.
So let's call this what it really is: a really good public health idea that we hope helps women and children be healthier, that's at least partly based on religious dominionism, not public health. Being rational and uncrippled by cognitive dissonance, we can simultaneously support maternal health AND recognize this as the U.S. Government's official adoption of the Prairie Muffin Manifesto, which begins:
1) Prairie Muffins are committed to obeying God's law in every area of life, as they are aware of its application to their lives and circumstances.
2) Prairie Muffins are helpmeets to their husbands, seeking creative and practical ways to further their husbands' callings and aid them in their dominion responsibilities.
3) Prairie Muffins are aware that God is in control of their ability to conceive and bear children, and they are content to allow Him to bless them as He chooses in this area. ***
(It gets better after that!)
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