In Monty Python’s “Meaning of Life”, a father sings a song to his 50 plus children crowded around their living room.
“Because every sperm is sacred
Every sperm is great
If a sperm is wasted
God gets quite irate”
When Monty Python performed the song, I’m quite confident they didn’t intend for anyone to hear it as anything other than satire. It is not to be taken seriously.
And yet, as I’ve been listening to the news lately, it seems that a number of people have internalized “every sperm is sacred” as the anthem for their political decisions.
Here are a few cases in point:
In Alabama, a pregnant woman is in jail and her fetus has been assigned a lawyer to defend its rights. The woman’s legal rights to an abortion, however, are being ignored. It appears she is in jail for using drugs while pregnant. So the State is punishing her for getting pregnant and at the same time prohibiting her from ending the pregnancy. This woman is being denied her ability to make her own decisions for her health, for her future, for her own medical choices. That one fertilized sperm is more sacred than she is.
In Paraguay, an 11 year old rape victim just gave birth, by caesarian section, to a child because abortion is illegal in her country (and in many other places too–like Alabama, apparently). The father of her child is her step father. This case reveals widespread child abuse in Paraguay. “At least 600 girls aged 14 or under become pregnant in Paraguay every year – whose population numbers little more than six million people.” Every sperm appears to be more sacred than the health and well being of these pregnant children.
Senator Ted Cruz recently received endorsement for the Republican nomination for the presidency from Georgia Right to Life PAC for his pledge to support a “personhood amendment”. Personhood is a movement to declare that fertilized eggs are people who have their own constitutional rights. Gov. Mike Huckabee also supports such an amendment. Most of the other Republican candidates for President have made it clear they would work to limit a woman’s access to her own medical decisions. Sen. Marco Rubio believes the US Constitution already is against abortion. “I believe that every single human being is entitled to the protection of our laws whether they…have their birth certificate or not.” These men have all said they will vote to get rid of Planned Parenthood and bragged about the ways they have restricted women’s access to health care.
A “personhood amendment” would not only ban abortions, but would also further restrict women’s access to IUDs because people feel that those forms of contraception are actually abortions. These personhood amendments speak to “the civil rights of the pre-born at an embryonic or fetal level“. Every sperm is sacred.
While every sperm is sacred, every life once born seems to be of less concern. As I’ve written before, I’m not a huge ‘fan’ of abortion. Yet we have better options available to us than to criminalize women who get pregnant and feel abortion is their best option. If we really want the abortion rate to decline, let’s start acting as if “every person already living is sacred” instead of only believing that every sperm is sacred.
Let’s fund access to birth control and increase women’s access to preventive health care, rather than de-funding Planned Parenthood, which provides low cost access to health care for millions of women (and men).
Let’s fund early childhood education programs and make daycare safe and affordable so women who do choose to become mothers will have support in educating and caring for their children, rather than force Sesame Street to move to a high priced Cable channel in order to have the funding it needs. While we’re at it, let’s restore funding to public education so that all of those “sacred sperm” that become children will have access to the educational opportunities that have been the hallmark of America’s success and flourishing.
Let’s treat drug addiction as the medical condition it is. People who are criminalized for drug addiction have few opportunities to rise above their addictions and return to healthy participation in society.
Let’s support a livable minimum wage so people can support themselves and live on a full time salary.
And how about this–let’s trust that women are the most qualified people to make their own decisions about their medical care, their bodies, and their opportunities. I know we have a long history of misogyny in this country, but what if instead of calling us “women”, we called us “sacred sperm that when fertilized received XX chromosomes”. Would we be sacred then?