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Bad Chart Thursday: “Anatomy” Lesson for Feminists

The imaginary biology of the anti-abortion movement

Complete, often willful, ignorance of biology is characteristic of the anti-choice forced birth movement, perhaps even more characteristic than religious faith. Yet this ignorance is equally fanciful, imagining fully formed babies inside women (often inside our stomachs, apparently), rape never leading to pregnancy because “the female body has ways to shut the whole thing down,” embryos and fetuses magically feeling pain before their cortical function (required for perceiving pain) develops (at around 30 weeks), and so on.

The recent scourge of anti-abortion bills infesting state legislatures has produced even more examples of ridiculous biological fantasies among Republicans. Alabama senator Clyde Chambliss, sponsor of the state’s recent total ban on abortion, claims that a woman can get an abortion before she knows she’s pregnant. Somehow. Therefore, his bill is not a total ban, even though it has no exceptions for incest or rape, because people can just get preemptive abortions, I guess?

Chambliss apparently wants to encourage abortion as contraception, or perhaps he believes women have the ability to time travel and selectively erase their memories.

Senator Chambliss also laid to rest the myth that anti-abortion advocates care about babies, not punishing women, when he explained why his bill wouldn’t criminalize fertility clinics for disposing of fertilized eggs. “The egg in the lab doesn’t apply,” according to Chambliss. “It’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant.” So life doesn’t begin at conception. It begins when a pregnant person loses rights and humanity to a brainless parasite.

But brainless parasites are powerful in other states as well. Republicans in Georgia and Ohio have recently passed “heartbeat” bills, a misnomer considering the “heartbeat” is usually activity detected before the heart has even formed.

Aside from that, a heartbeat as the start of personhood is still rooted in the cutting-edge biological discoveries of ancient times. The rest of us are aware that our consciousness is rooted in our brains, which develop much later than the heart. In fact, there’s more brain activity in someone legally brain dead than in a fetus until way past the point when most abortions are performed. Yet, it’s illegal to use that brain dead person’s organs to save a life without that person’s prior permission, which means that according to the “pro-life” movement, people who can get pregnant should have fewer rights than a cadaver.

Not that women can consent to be organ donors anyway if this week’s infographic is accurate because we apparently don’t really have organs, presumably because organs are elective? (I don’t remember getting to pick and choose my kidneys or my liver, but perhaps I overused my memory-erasing abilities the last time I time traveled.)

"Anatomy" Lesson for Feminists
Source: @ljcambria tweet screenshot, cropped, the earliest source of this image I could find

Also of note is that the inside of a woman’s body is not a woman’s body, except for the spine, for some reason.

In Georgia, not even the spine or the outside of the body belongs to the pregnant person. People in Georgia capable of getting pregnant belong to the state of Georgia, not themselves, as evidenced in the recent anti-abortion law allowing people to be charged with conspiracy to commit murder if they leave the state for an abortion. Leave it to Georgia Republicans to look for that loophole allowing white men to own people again. (And, incidentally, to disenfranchise more voters by creating a new group of felons out of people who have the audacity to not want to be state property.)

To be fair, this infographic is actually correct in places. Shocking, I know. But it’s true that a baby is an entirely separate person and is not a female body part. A baby is by definition born, able to survive outside the woman’s body, so they are never aborted.

Anti-abortion zealots really, really want you to share their baby delusion, though, to imagine embryos and fetuses as just smaller versions of fully formed babies, like homunculi but cuter. You can see it in this infographic’s choice to present the fetus looking as close to a born baby as possible, even though the vast majority of abortions occur when the embryo or fetus is maybe the size of a grape and looks more like an extremely tiny whale-like alien than a human baby—a tiny whale-like alien parasite without a brain, and therefore without consciousness, that, like a dead body, has more rights in some states than a living human being who can get pregnant.

Considering how many people are going to die as a result of anti-abortion legislation, perhaps Republicans should pitch their bills by reassuring pregnant people that they’ll have their rights back after they’re dead.

Melanie Mallon

Melanie is a freelance editor and writer living in a small town outside Minneapolis with her husband, two kids, dog, and two cats. When not making fun of bad charts or running the Uncensorship Project, she spends her time wrangling commas, making colon jokes, and putting out random dumpster fires. You can find her on Twitter as @MelMall, on Facebook, and on Instagram.

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One Comment

  1. The meme above shows a fetus way older than 24 weeks. Thus the person who wants to block an abortion for such a case as displayed in this meme wants a dead woman, since after 24 weeks she can only abort if her life is in danger.

    (Some states have expanded that to mean the health of the woman, but that would be a different debate.)

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