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Ramblings on Science Fiction, Women, and Abortion 1 March 2006

Posted by Todd in Gender, Political Commentary, Sexuality.

A recent Battlestar Galactica episode (I told you this wouldn't all be high-brow) featured a storyline of a young woman from Picon, who, apparently, was technically the property of her parents, and who had gotten pregnant and wanted an abortion, seeking asylum on Battlestar Galactica. Unfortunately, the writing of the show stretched the character of Pres. Roslin a bit too far, by having her describe her life-long efforts to protect the rights of women to control their own bodies only to rescind reproductive freedom in an effort to repopulate the colonies. This could not have rung more hollow to me, as I immediately thought of other ways to encourage reproduction (incentives for new parents, for example) without infringing on what should be an inviolate right of a human being to have final say over her own body.

In one of those life immitating art moments, the recent law passed in South Dakota (HB1215 02/17/2006) for all intents and purposes outlaws abortion in that state. Obviously a play to test the new makeup of the Supreme Court, the law reads like something out of a Focus on the Family broshure, complete with such horrifyingly bad prose as this: "to protect … the mother's fundamental natural intrinsic right to a relationship with her child." [Aside: My dusty old bachelor's degree in English just shriveled reading that drivel.] The folks over at Big Ink argued today that the interesting part of the law is that it supposedly protects a woman's right to motherhood without ever consulting actual women, and that it conspicuously ignores the fact that behind every pregnancy is an inseminator. I love their suggestion that a good anti-abortion law would make financial responsibility for all children born in the state without abortion automatic and obligatory to the man who impregnated the now obligated mother-to-be.

In other science fiction news, I learned today from Salon.com's Broadsheet that Octavia Butler died last week after falling and hitting her head near her home in Seattle. Butler was the first African American woman to break into science fiction, received a MacArthur genius award and numerous science fiction industry awards. She was an imaginative story teller and skilled wordsmith. I struggled with her works because of their dark view of human nature. In Lilith's Brood, for example, there is nothing of beauty left in humanity, nothing worth saving. Even the impulse to freedom, the drive to rebel against slavery is twisted into a crushing will to violence. Things like slavery, war, racism are seen as the inescapable dark side of human nature, irredeemable. I admire her art, but am perhaps still too polyanna to go all the way with her to feeling relief in imagining the end of humankind.



1. diana s. - 3 March 2006

I’m ENRAGED by South Dakota and Mississippi! However, I know states are going to challenge the abortion laws until someone takes them to the Supreme Court to see if the new court will change the law. So, I’m trying not to get too caught up in it because it’s just going to get worse. I hold out hope that the high court won’t hold up such limited laws. I also fantasize that we’ll elect a reasonable president in 2008, others on the court will retire, and we can get balance back. What else can I do? (Besides participating politically of course.)

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