Misogyny Denies Truth of Pregnancy
At church yesterday, when the priest was giving the sermon, a baby joined in. Then, when the family went up to the altar for communion, the baby went with them. The baby peered over the mother’s shoulder.
I whispered to my husband, “Look at that baby!”
He said, “That baby is looking at you.” I said, “That baby knows I love it. I don’t know who that baby is, but I love that baby.”
Then I had to lower my head into my palms to collect myself.
The priest’s sermon was about the Supreme Court opinion declaring the most intimate decision a woman can make to no longer be hers. The priest shared his journey on the issue. Gay and married to a man, he at first believed it was something he wasn’t concerned about one way or another. But he came to understand that this most intimate bodily moment of decision took place between God and the one facing pregnancy. He declared the Supreme Court’s opinion a sin. Not abortion a sin. The opinion a sin.
As I watched him talk, God became present. This is why I go to church: to be brought back to God. His sermon about loving our neighbor during this fraught time brought me back to God.
The Truth of Sacrifice
I cannot imagine anyone telling me I had to undertake the dangerous journey into pregnancy against my will. Oh, yeah. We pretend like pregnancy is all pink and blue. But pregnancy is blood and guts, a journey that pushes a body into incredible stress. It forces the heart to work overtime. It suppresses the body’s immune response, making the woman vulnerable to other conditions.
In fact, according to scientific measurement, the only equivalent to what pregnancy requires of the mother is the Tour de France bike race. “Pregnancy is the longest duration, highest energy expenditure thing that humans can do.” The risk of this process includes dental problems with tooth loss, permanent incontinence, type 2 diabetes later in life, brown patches on the face that don’t go away, preeclampsia, and Bell’s palsy/paralysis that continues past pregnancy. These risks are everyday—I’ve known women whom they’ve struck—and that doesn’t even count complications from C-Sections. When a child is born, we should be giving prayers of thanksgiving not just for a healthy child, but for a healthy mother.
Misogyny Denies Truth of Pregnancy
I used to think we pooh-poohed pregnancy risks because we wanted procreation to continue (look at the list above, tell me it doesn’t give you pause.) Now, I believe misogyny drives our refusal to recognize what pregnancy requires. We don’t want to give women credit as bodily givers of life. Even our language is dismissive: Mothers do not “carry” a pregnancy as we constantly say, like a baby is a suitcase they passively tote around. Mothers grow a baby. They do it at great risks to themselves, which we refuse to admit.
That feeling is what led me to lay my head in my hands. What that mother went through to bring her baby into the world, to create her family. It was an incredible feat, the creation of a miracle that we don’t want to give her credit for. We forget: God did not force birth on Mary. Gabriel came to Nazareth to get Mary’s consent to her role in bringing the son of God into the world. The religious view that holds God imposes “life” on those who do not want it is not my God.
But, apparently, the Supreme Court has no problem with states imposing this religious view on me.
The court’s misogyny denies the truth of pregnancy. They have ruled the risks of pregnancy are so inconsequential, the government can force you to undertake them against your will.
God help us.