iStock.com/MachineHeadzIf you're a woman, you probably think that your body is your own, right? Not so, according to one Oklahoma lawmaker: State Rep. Justin Humphrey says that while he understands women might "feel like" their body is theirs, it's actually just a "host" for any and all unborn children that you may or may not have "invited in." That's right, ladies -- whether or not you meant to get pregnant, surprise! You're nothing more than a walking, breathing incubator.
Humphrey recently introduced a seemingly unconstitutional bill (known as HB 1441) which would require pregnant women to obtain the fetus's father's permission -- in writing! -- before getting an abortion, with the only exceptions being if the father is dead (in which case the woman needs a notarized affidavit), if the woman's life is in danger, or if the pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.
Fathers, however, are allowed to demand a paternity test under any circumstances. Unsurprisingly, this archaic bill has been met with more than a little outrage. So, in an attempt to explain his motivation, Humphrey gave the following explanation to the Intercept:
I believe one of the breakdowns in our society is that we have excluded the man out of all of these types of decisions. I understand that [women] feel like that is their body ... I feel like it is a separate -- what I call them is, is you're a 'host.' And you know when you enter into a relationship you're going to be that host and so, you know, if you pre-know that then take all precautions and don't get pregnant. So that's where I'm at. I'm like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you're irresponsible then don't claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you're the host and you invited that in.
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What the actual hell?! Oh, so all it takes to not get pregnant is to "pre-know" that you don't want to serve as a host for whatever unknown entities might be lurking about in the ether and to take all precautions? If only countless women forced to make the most agonizing choice of their lives had known it was so simple! Except, oh wait. It's NOT that simple -- and most of the time, unplanned pregnancies have NOTHING to do with being "irresponsible" at all. "Precautions" are not foolproof.
And, for the record, merely getting a woman pregnant does not a "father" make. Humphrey claims that part of his intention was to ensure that men would have to pay child support from the beginning. But there's no guarantee that would happen. And ultimately, this bill isn't about babies or children at all. It's not about preserving life, it's about punishing women and taking away the already limited control they have over their bodies. It's about "men's rights" (which, as Leslie Knope so memorably said, "is nothing").
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The Oklahoma state legislature is scheduled to vote on the bill on February 14. And since Oklahoma has passed 20 strict abortion regulations since 2011, there is definitely a decent chance this bill could be approved. Scary, but considering the current administration's ongoing attack against women (including a reinstatement of the "global gag rule" on abortion), not at all surprising. Every day it seems our society edges closer to resembling a fictional dystopian nightmare -- in this case, The Handmaid's Tale, a Margaret Atwood book (and soon to be Hulu series) in which the US has been taken over by a theocratic dictatorship and women are forced to bear children for elite infertile couples.
Like so many recent events, the introduction of this bill is a clear indicator that as women, we're going to have to keep fighting battles we thought we won decades ago. It's an indicator that our fight has just begun. Because we are more than just "hosts." We, although contrary to this belief, own our own bodies and should be in control of what happens to them.