Following some of my posts last week, the video below came across my Facebook feed some time ago. Note that it is NOT about me, and should not imply anything about my condition. As I disclosed last week, that would be difficult.
No, I wanted to share this as a combination of the #RealitiesOfPregnancy, the thread on #BiblicalPatriarchy, body autonomy, and also reproductive justice.
(Important caveat on reproductive justice theory: I am a white woman trying to work within Intersectionality, and not directly active in reproductive justice. I shared the link in an attempt to acknowledge the intellectual debt I owe to Women of Color who have done the heavy lifting of this theory, and have particularly communicated it and that framing in response to #Ferguson.)
The line from this parody that struck me the most, was this: "It's my body I can grow who I want to."
Because that is a Feminist statement, consistent with the principles of Body Autonomy and Choice.
I have no idea whether the family with the video (and, presumably, an infant now) would agree with any of my comments below, as I expand on the statements about choice.
Often on the national conversation, Choice seems to be framed in terms of access to abortion... but Choice means that Life is also a valid choice. Choice means that the woman gets to decide what happens with her body - whether it be bearing no children, one child, four children, or 19...
Which cycles around to the Biblical Patriarchy discussion.
Acknowledging the rights of women to have 19 children is a difficult statement for me to make. Because it means that my mother's choice to have Dear Brothers #3 and 4 was her choice to make, no matter how difficult it made our lives.
And because yes, 19 is a reference to the Duggars and their Carefully Scripted Lives (as Libby puts it). There is more about concerns with the Quiverfull movement on her blog.
I said when I started the Biblical Patriarchy discussion that I would write about some of the distinctions between Libby's Protestant, homeschool experience and my own Roman Catholic experiences. Family planning is one where the distinction is fine. My mother was using Natural Family Planning for several years, while Quiverfull eschew even that.
That's not to say all Quiverfull families are large. In my time on the Mothering.com web-boards, I heard from several Quiverfull women who also faced some level of infertility. In their case, "it's in God's hands" still meant a small family.
By and large the structure of large families in these communities (Quiverfull, Catholic, and to my knowledge Mormon) requires the support of older daughters to fill in as second mothers. You can read the section of Quiverfull articles "the Effects on Daughters" for more on that within Libby's community.
Coming back to the concept of Choice, and particularly the Reproductive Justice framework:
As I understand the women working for Reproductive Justice: Choice also means access to prenatal care, to family leave, to a living wage, to a safe neighborhood and police policies that allow said chosen children to grow up. To live.
In the ideal world, the woman's choice is supported by her partner... and, as we have seen, by wider society. But the world is far from ideal. Reproductive coercion also happens within relationships -- and one of the reasons that healthy relationships and consent need to be part of a comprehensive lifespan sexuality education (such as my community's Our Whole Lives curriculum).
For the difficult situations (financial struggles, fetal malformations, maternal risk), ideally the woman's choice would also be informed by her faith, her doctor, and supported by her religious leader and her faith community. But again, the world is far from ideal. And so, many terminations are kept secret.