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Publico, Spain

Giving Birth in Chains in the USA


By Anibal Malvar

Translated By Jenny Westwell

28 November 2012

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard


Spain - Publico - Original Article (Spanish)

Everybody knows that barely civilized and somewhat anachronistic societies continue to exist on planet Earth. These remote countries perpetuate inhumane, atavistic traditions. For instance, certain jails in the uncivilized world still shackle their female inmates around the belly during childbirth—with chains. They lay a padlock on the poor laboring belly and pass a length of steel links tightly around and under the bed. Perish the thought that a delinquent mother and her suspect newborn might make a getaway while she delivers the afterbirth. Well, maybe I exaggerate and the padlock goes under the bed. But what countries, eh? They must be far away. But no. Laboring convict mothers were restrained by chains around their bellies just yesterday in Virginia, a state that made one of the most significant contributions to the 1789 Bill of Rights. We are talking here about the United States. The land of the free.

All the same, there is no cause for alarm. The humanization of human beings and the civilized world is advancing at a brutal pace and, only yesterday, Virginia’s penitential system decided that female inmates would no longer have to bear the weight of a padlock on their bellies during childbirth. They will be permitted to give birth in much greater comfort. They will merely be handcuffed—hopefully not behind their backs. That is, unless the attorney general and the governor fail to ratify such a postmodernist humanitarian proposal, which could happen. Anything is possible in the land of the free. It will not be for the likes of us to criticize such high authority if, in the end, they decide that unshackling the bellies of inmates giving birth might be a precipitous move. They will have done something, after all. We are only at the dawn of the 21st century and everyone knows by now that the moon landing was a hoax. But change will have to come, however disquieting. Our male-dominated Pleistocene era has been going on a little too long for these female inmates. For women in general, for that matter.

So I believe that this groundbreaking law in Virginia—albeit risky and perhaps even ill-advised—should be welcomed by the great unwashed, as well as by readers of this article. Without going so far as to exactly applaud it, you understand. We don’t want the defenders of modernity and other libertarian excesses getting too excited. This whole business of chains around an unborn baby requires a proper and unhurried analysis. As a matter of fact, only 18 of the 50 states that form Barack Obama’s country have anti-shackling legislation allowing female inmates to give birth without those unflattering belly chains. If, in the land of the free and the first black president, a majority of decent citizens believed that female inmates should give birth while shackled around the belly, I can only suppose it must be for the good of the child.

The progressives and the new age movement will muse that these chains around the unborn child are the metaphor that proves we are still the missing link. I have never given birth — and my critics would say I haven’t even engendered any ideas. Perhaps that’s why it doesn’t seem so vile and terrible to me that the first image a newborn child should see is that of his mother, or his father, in chains. It seems to me more like an enlightening start. An instructive lesson — and nothing like the bullshit they dish out in the public education system.

In another century, which we will be fortunate enough not to see, I suppose some clown of a judge with a right-on haircut will reduce a murderer’s sentence in recognition of the mitigating circumstance that he emerged into the world from a belly in chains in the so-called land of the free. The murderer will have his 100,000 year sentence reduced by 10 years because the first thing he saw when he came into the world was his mother shackled to a bed by prison chains. The same clown of a judge will utter an anachronism in his verdict: the word re-entry. Nobody will understand. Because by then the word re-entry will only signify what a millionaire football player does when he joyfully returns to the field of play after suffering what appeared to be a serious injury. Like I said, the humanity of human beings is advancing at a brutal pace. It’s an irrefutable fact.



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