Monday, April 6, 2009

Fetal Container

fetal container, dawn, johnsen, misogyny, feminism, pregnant, asshat,
A lot has been made of a comment by Dawn Johnsen, Obama's nominee to head the Office of Legal Counsel, in her Supreme Court amicus brief for Webster v. Reproductive Health Services:

The woman is constantly aware for nine months that her body is not wholly her own: the state has conscripted her body for its own ends. Thus, abortion restrictions ‘reduce pregnant women to no more than fetal containers.’”

Of course every radical prolifer immediately gasped and said, "How dare you call my mom a fetal container?!", proving that a whole lot of people don't get the concept of context.

In the interests of increasing the general knowledge in the world, here's a little context.

I work with a woman who is visibly pregnant*. Her husband is a bartender. It has been her habit for as long as he's worked at that particular bar to go home after work, make dinner and bring it to the bar to share with him. (City regulations forbid smoking in bars and restaurants where I live.) Recently she gave up this precious time with her husband because every single person that is in the bar feels it appropriate to lecture a grown woman on where she chooses to eat dinner.

"You shouldn't be in a bar!"

"You shouldn't be drinking!"

"What are you thinking?!"

"What about your baby?!"

That is treating someone as a fetal container.

*By this I mean she has reached the stage where there is no way you could mistake it for weight gain, etc.


  1. Leaving aside for a moment the fact that children whose mothers were light drinkers during pregnancy actually seemed to benefit, according to one British study...(,1197,4697,00.html)

    ... WTF? I remember when Gwyneth Paltrow was pregnant the first time she was seen at dinner with her husband having a Guinness on the Lower East Side and everybody was all, "OMFG!" And her doctor was all, "OMFG! I told her it was fine! She needs more iron! STFU!"

    ... Also, there was the 6-months-pregnant Swiss nurse midwife I met over dinner once. Who was drinking prosecco.

    ... I could go on...

  2. I often had that problem when I was pregnant. Not only did I feel like my body was taken over by this foreign invader, but people then took to lecturing me about what I could and couldn't do. For the last 5 months of my pregnancy I dealt with massive morning sickness and the feeling that no one recignised me as a person anymore. It's unnerving.

  3. The worst part- she wasn't drinking alcohol. She was drinking water! But, hey, it's not her body anymore and everybody in the whole world has the right to lecture her on what, or what not, to do.

    I'd have started putting water in empty beer bottles and guzzling it down, but I have an odd sense of humor.

  4. I like that kind of humor ;) I always wondered what kind of looks I would have gotten if I had ever become pregnant. Even as I neared 30, I looked to be about 14. I could just imagine the judging that would have gone on.

  5. Looking for several fetal containers to house my new army. Please contact BeamStalk. P.S. Do not tell my girlfriend as I am afraid she wouldn't understand the complexity of my plan.

  6. rabbit: i once watched a scene play out in a grocery store wherein a woman who looked to be about 12, and 8 months pregnant, destroyed some asshat who starting lecturing her on premarital sex. turns out, she was 35, married, and that was her 4th child. it was well worth seeing.

    beamstalk: have you been reading quiverfull sites again?

  7. My mother drunk a glass of Guiness most days when she was pregnant with me (for the iron, like the Gwyneth Paltrow example). I'm fine, no problems at all :). I doubt she could have got away with that today though.

  8. Beamstalk, I'm not currently using my uterus so if you want to raise em, I'm game.

    PF, I would have loved to have seen that LOL

    My Mother smoked while pregnant, I think that's a hell of a lot worse then having a beer. I think the only time it becomes a problem is if the Mom drinks excessively and constantly.


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