Thursday, 16 February 2012

Debaten diputados proliferación de cesáreas - Can legislating EVER do any good??

Photo borrowed from:
La Jornada: Debaten diputados proliferación de cesáreas

Well what can I say? - ¿Qué puedo decir?
And no-one is asking WHY???Yet another political game and argument washing over what is really an important and violent fact: Mexico has a 38% caesarean rate, as mentioned in this article surgery has become the most used method of birthing humans in the country.
In translation I will explain that this newspaper article is discussing an amendment to the General Health Act in the Mexican parliament. There is a proposal to reform article 62 of the Act to make it state that caesarean sections should only be performed if there is a justifiable medical cause.
Valiant an effort it may be to finally begin to recognise that there is a significant problem and over use of c-section, which at least opens up debate in the public arena. Predictably enough two parties (PRD and PAN) strongly associated with the church and supporting neoliberal structural readjustment to federal and state public services are against this proposal. In Mexican politics I find it difficult to differentiate between the PRD and PRI in terms of their actions – as politicians swap party alliances more often than a Latin American gets arrested in the States- We may as well just throw the 3rd main party in the mix as well!
The opposing politicians (the majority male and so losing my attention from the start because as with the abortion/reproductive rights debate – they have no real place in this debate a their bodies will never be in that place) – are playing the human rights card on this one. Stating that it is against a woman’s right to decide over her body – that essentially a woman should be able to choose how she gives birth.
Here we have the first major problem: The Rhetoric of Rights
This whole thing about CHOICE is super dodgy yet difficult to argue against – it’s like when those irritating sales people halt you by saying “You mean you don’t want to save money on your gas bill?”
As you hear yourself replying “no”, you do this and cringe a little because this question in its essence is rhetorical – a question that is not meant to be answered because in this case socially speaking the answer is obvious.
The same principle applies to human RIGHTS questions – can you really argue against phrases such as – “A woman has a right to decide over her own body” which is why phrases such as this are so easy to throw into any political argument no matter whose side you’re on. The same goes for the whole CHOICE semantic juggling...
Whilst now throwing this argument into the midst – when debating the legalisation of abortion PAN politicians are not wishing a woman to have the right to decide over her body – not even if she has been raped! In this case they are calling for the RIGhT To LIFE – whatever that may mean?
THIS is a problem of turning something like rights and choice into a thing that can be legislated for or against – turned into a THING for the statute books – which essentially is a thing that is decided upon and controlled by the State not the community or individual.
In Mexican history there exists a change from what is known as Human Rights as natural to Human Rights as a statute which can be legislated and interpreted as Universal. Anthropologist Shannon Speed discusses this in great length in her 2007 ethnography on the indigenous struggle and Human Rights in Chiapas (Rights to Rebellion). Specifically how amendments made to the Mexican Constitution in the moment that NAFTA and neoliberal structural readjustment were forced upon Mexican citizens made a general shift was made in human rights discourse as something than can be negotiated and individualised.
In 1994, the same year that the North American Free Trade Agreement was introduced (popular opposition to which greatly enhanced public discourse on rights to land, resources and discrimination of indigenous peoples), on a global stage the International Conference on Population and Development (in Cairo) began an important terminology shift from population control to one of rights to reproductive health. International discourses of reproduction since Cairo have tended to be framed in terms of individual rights (Morgan and Roberts 2009) and freedoms, this has also been reflected in national Mexican health policy and NGO work since. This rhetoric of individual rights and freedoms is based on a notion of universalism, and so unlike ideas of ethnicity, gender, religion, education, social inequalities and attitudes, health and environmental problems, human rights discourse transcends culture and political context. Universal rights have a fixity that means they can be set into international law and embody a regulatory force open to interpretation. The concept of human rights is inseparable from the nation state as both defender from and instigator of violence via state institutions (see R. Wilson 1997 ).
The most frightening quote in this article is from a PAN politician Laura Elena Estrada who arguing against the amendment also added that the families who accompany women should be able to decide on a C-SECTION birth in the woman’s BEST INTERESTS. This is something I have come across in my own research as women have told me that abusive partners or other relatives have signed papers agreeing to surgery (c-section and/or tubal ligation) when the labouring woman has refused. WHERE IS THE WOMAN’S RIGHT TO CHOOSE OVER HER OWN BODY HERE???
If we leave it in the hands of the politicians to decide how we birth – will it ever end well?

1 comment:

jlop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.