Can we admit that "unborn child" is just a euphemism?
As usual, it's a euphemism that mostly means that pregnant women are not citizens and shouldn't have rights.
A Spokane woman trying to divorce her estranged husband two years after he was jailed for beating her has been told by a judge she can't get out of the marriage while she's pregnant.
The case pits a first-year attorney who argues that state law allows any couple to divorce if neither spouse challenges it against a longtime family law judge who asserts that the rights of the unborn child in this type of case trump a woman's right to divorce.
"There's a lot of case law that says it is important in this state that children not be illegitamized," Spokane County Superior Court Judge Paul Bastine told The Spokesman-Review newspaper.
Getting a woman pregnant is not really the human equivalent to the canine practice of peeing on a tree. Initially, I was flummoxed at the idea that there is this new right to be born to married parents, which just can't be true, as we don't force shotgun weddings on people. Also, in this case, the child isn't even the husband's.
Hughes' husband, Carlos, was convicted in 2002 of beating her. She separated from him after the attack and filed for divorce last April. She later became pregnant by another man and is due in March.
Still confused, I mulled over the use of the word "illegitimate". That word has nothing to do with the child, really. Babies look and act the same regardless of the cultural construct we call "marriage". The concept of legitimacy has much more to do with the state of the mother at the time the child is born--is she married or not? It's an ancient concept that is slipping out of use, because we don't have the social structures to support it. If you view women as property of men, then legitimacy makes much more sense.
The field analogy is the one this judge is working with. Divorcing her husband while pregnant would be like trying to sell land when the crops haven't been harvested. Too confusing--do the crops belong to the original owner of the land or not? The solution in this case would be to harvest first and then figure out what to do with the land, and that's the judge's solution.
But women are not fields and children are not crops. This is not a property dispute between the owner of the land and the provider of the seed. This is about a woman, who is a parent in her own right, trying to live her life as a soverign citizen, which appears to be an appalling and all too confusing notion for this judge to embrace. The reasoning on this decision reminds me of the reasoning when I was buying my house and we had to wait for the roof to get fixed before we could buy it.
I feel terribly naive when I see stuff like this. I am still shocked at stories of people who just can't or won't grasp that women's bodies are not property to be sized up and divided like plots of land.
Via, as usual, Steve Gilliard.
Edited to add: This is setting a weird precedent, a return to the definiton of "father" being "married to mother", not "biological father". Perhaps we can expect the forced-paternity-testing crowd to go crazy in defending this woman's rights? I'm guessing not, but one can alwasy hope for a little logical consistency.