I told the Archcrone that I would blog about reproductive freedom issues today but I got busy doing other things. I do, however, want to point you to her post and to Rachel’s post. Reading them together gives you a pretty scary picture of where we are as a state. For instance, in Rachel’s post, we learn that folks are all upset about Planned Parenthood having a fund-raiser for Mother’s Day. In the Archcrone’s post, we learn that there are 19 counties in Tennessee with no ob/gyn. Our infant mortality rate in 2004 was 8.6 per thousand births and we don’t even track pregnancy-related complications that kill the mother.
But here’s the thing I cannot stop thinking about: this report that the Archcrone links to. In 2006 just over one in ten girls between the ages of 10 and 17 in the state of Tennessee gave birth (3552 births or 11%) but almost 14% (4378) of girls between the ages of 10 and 17 were pregnant. One hundred and twenty of those girls were younger than 14. In Davidson county, there were twenty of these girls. In Shelby county, there were sixty-two.
I will repeat that. In 2006, there were 120 girls younger than 14 in Tennessee who were pregnant. Twenty of those girls came from here. Sixty-two came from Shelby county.
I was reading the Helter Shelter archives over at the Scene and the dude said something about how the trouble with contractors from Tennessee is that, like all Tennesseans, they have an independent streak a mile wide and, if they don’t know something, they’ll just make it up.
I keep thinking about that, from a lot of angles, when I look at trying to figure out how we might fix this stuff. I mean, when you think that thirteen percent of teenage girls were pregnant in 2006 and that that’s an improvement over where we were ten years ago when the rate was one in five or back in 1990, when it was over one in four (and if you want to think about something scary, think about how the pregnant teenage girls in 2006 are, in part, the daughters of the pregnant girls from 1990, which means, women my age becoming grandmothers), how can you not despair when you think about them trying to make a better life for their families?
It’s just a fact: if an individual woman cannot decide for herself what happens to her body, she cannot be free. A woman cannot decide for herself what happens to her body if she is not taught about her body and how it works. A woman cannot decide for herself what happens to her body if she does not have access to the healthcare she needs when she needs it. And a woman cannot decide for herself what happens to her body if she is being preyed on by evil jackasses (dudes who fuck 11 year olds).
And if a woman cannot decide for herself what happens to her body, she is severely hampered in her abilities to achieve economic independence and security. I mean, if she’s not in control of herself, how can we even talk about economic independence?
I don’t know. I’m tired and I’m angry at child-fuckers and I’m so damn tired of this state playing “It’s all about saving the babies” when there are at least a hundred living breathing little girls every year who needed saving from the fuckers who exploited them and knocked them up and we didn’t do jack shit for them.
I know, I know, it’s so much easier to love an ideal, to love the little babies in your imagination, all pure and innocent and deserving, and much less easy to go to the mat for actual people who frequently let you down. And so we all get in our vehicles and drive through the streets of Knoxville mourning our great tragedy while meanwhile we revel in our abstinence only education, we glory in our party bunkers while family services go under funded, and so on and so on.
But hey, whatever.
Happy mother’s day, y’all.
May next year, the number of children joining the ranks of mother continue to decline.