By Valerie Hartouni
Publication by means of Hartouni, Valerie
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Additional resources for Cultural Conceptions: On Reproductive Technologies and the Remaking of Life
Shortly thereafter, doctors disconnected the woman from all life support, whereupon she was pronounced dead, again. Henderson is not the first woman to have been maintained on a mechanical support system until the fetus she carried could survive delivery. 4 Bizarre? Chilling? The stuff of National Enquirer, B-grade thrillers, or punk rock lyrics? Consider another headline, appearing in the same West Coast newspaper in October 1984, some twenty months prior to the Henderson event. "5 Orphan embryos saved—embryos we do not usually think of as "orphanable," as independent life forms floating about in the world, as parentless minors, in trouble, on the loose, lost, lonely, abandoned, in need of being saved, "rescued," or adopted.
37 The fetus is clearly personified, perceived, presented, and produced as a person who has simply been awaiting discovery or awaiting the development of the right optical instruments for its true nature to be fully revealed and appre- 24 / Impaired Sight or Partial Vision? hended. "38 The obvious question that seems then to emerge is, What exactly does the "light of scientific observation" make it possible to see and apprehend today that was not or could not be seen and apprehended three decades ago?
39 Just how inescapably perverse or unnatural women's participation in the workforce is was graphically established, according to prolife forces, by the horrifying costs such participation exacted yearly: quite contrary to their "innate" maternal drives, women were aborting their unborn. "40 "Hard" evidence could hardly be marshaled to support these clearly dubious claims. However, innuendo and insinuation in the context of Containing Women I 41 what were largely successful efforts to breathe real life into the still life of the fetal form have proved every bit as effective in providing a convincing and compelling portrait of women as out of control and maladjusted, not to mention miserable, agitating against nature, and thus unable to "read" its directives accurately.