If you had any doubt that that Republicans were taking their cues on women’s health from The Handmaid’s Tale, consider Oklahoma representative Justin Humphrey, who said this week that women are not individual people once they get pregnant, just “hosts”.
Humphrey, who just proposed a bill requiring women seeking abortions to get written permission from their sexual partner, told a reporter at the Intercept that while he understands that women “feel like that is their body”, they are mistaken to think of themselves as autonomous human beings.
“What I call them is, you’re a ‘host’ … I’m like, hey, your body is your body and be responsible with it. But after you’re irresponsible then don’t claim, well, I can just go and do this with another body, when you’re the host and you invited that in.”
The upside is at least they’ve dispensed with any subtext.
The subtext being that this is a Sorites Problem.
For in a mammalian species the female is indeed the host. Sure, 20 minutes after fertilisation it would be very extreme indeed to say “host!” and host only. 270 days later it would be equally extreme to claim that there wasn’t something very hostlike about this situation. Just as with the development of the child itself, it’s a process with no clear dividing lines other than conception and birth (or termination, of course).
No, this isn’t to say that I support this specific law (although I’ve always had a very soft spot for the argument that as the male will be forced to pay for 21 years for a live birth then said male should indeed have some say in whether there is a live birth or not) but the basic concept of “host”, the thing you’re complaining about, isn’t an outrageous one at all.
Anti-choice legislation – from clinic restrictions to waiting periods – all come from the same ideology that trumps the potential life of a fetus over a woman’s right to autonomy, health and sometimes life.
And isn’t that an interesting argument? Because pretty much everyone agrees that at some point in our Sorites progression that it does. But when?