Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Fetal heartbeat bills are several poison pen letters delivered at once. They are nakedly political tools, designed to validate themselves to one of the GOP’s last dependable voting blocs by providing them with a sense that they are saviors and moral paragons no matter how many other people they hurt. They are levers of control targeting the racial and economic demographics that have already been hurt the most by previous Republican policies. They are fundamentally spiteful about the concept of sexual agency being afforded to anybody save for straight men, and as such they are drawn from the same vat of molten sludge as come mainstream GOP thoughts on sexual assault and their hatred and fear directed at LGBT persons.
They are also a reminder that for all of their declarations of being “pro-life” the proponents of such bills have a cold and frightening view of what constitutes humanity at all.
Your heart is a muscle that serves one key role: To efficiently distribute a chemical fluid that is capable of carrying life-sustaining oxygen to the rest of your vital organs. It functions without your having to consciously make it do so, and it exists in some form within nearly all non-plant life on the planet. Octopuses are considered the animal perhaps most genetically distant from our species and even they have three of such organs. Your heart and its autonomic beating do not define you as an individual, nor does it render you unique. Indeed, medical science has at this point produced machinery capable of fulfilling the heart’s task without making a sound at all, because that audible rhythm is itself a side effect of the organ at work, not the work itself.
To have your heartbeat codified into law as the part of you that determines your existence as a sentient being is to discard that which has made humanity different among the creatures of the Earth: the complex combinations of nature and nurture and social habit and imagination; the baser impulses that drive both our helpful and harmful behaviors; the thoughts and reactions being formed within the still-unknowable folds of our brain matter; the arcs of our various collectives over thousands of years upon a gradually shifting environment. You are nuance and detail and context and personality and choices, and these separate you from every human being who has ever lived, who is now living, and who ever will live. Your heartbeat is just one minor factor in that equation.
The GOP does not create these laws to preserve human life because they barely understand what makes it human; they are acting from a hastily-drawn pencil sketch of comprehension while shouting their deliberately limited perspectives with a harsh, unearned certainty. They continue to either create laws that increase human suffering or fight against laws that might reduce that suffering because their notion of suffering is reductive and self-serving, a zero-sum proposition in which only their freedom from pain might matter and in which the pain visited upon others is considered to be deserved. They criminalize miscarriages based on a fiendish ignorance of physiology and create systems of judgment barely removed from the absurdities of witch trials. They will demand that children be carried to term and then take away their access to healthcare and education while treating climate change as fiction and assuring that the nation’s on-edge, entitled psychopaths can obtain as much weaponry as they need to perhaps one day reduce those children to tatters. They will refuse to consider reasonable strategies to reduce unwanted pregnancies, which would logically reduce the need for abortions, either because they are mired in one-dimensional thinking or because they are cynical actors in our politics, refusing to work towards solutions because they need the churn of our opposing outrages to maintain their perch within power. I am tired of being ruled by such people, tired of having their influence waft through our air, tired of having to stay on alert that their ideas don’t infect the mind of my son or those of his friends.
We should not have our heartbeats dictated as the core definition of ourselves by people who insist on behaving heartlessly.