It’s Protective Custody, That’s What It Is.

Once again, recent events call out an older verse. I fucking hate it when that happens.

[…S]ome civil libertarians and women’s rights advocates worry that if Gibbs is convicted, the precedent could inspire more prosecutions of Mississippi women and girls for everything from miscarriage to abortion — and that African Americans, who suffer twice as many stillbirths as whites, would be affected the most.

Mississippi has one of has one of the worst records for maternal and infant health in the U.S., as well as some of the highest rates of teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease and among the most restrictive policies on abortion. Many of the factors that have been linked to prenatal and infant mortality — poverty, poor nutrition, lack of access to healthcare, pollution, smoking, stress — are rampant there.

“It’s tremendously, tremendously frightening, this case,” said Oleta Fitzgerald, southern regional director for the Children’s Defense Fund, an advocacy and research organization, in Jackson. “There’s real fear for young women whose babies are dying early who [lack the resources to] defend themselves and their actions.”

Jennifer, Jennifer, got herself pregnant,
The poor, irresponsible slut.
See, boys will be boys, so it’s up to the girls
To be moral, and keep their legs shut.
But Jennifer, Jennifer, couldn’t be bothered;
She led her young Billy astray.
They met, after classes, at Jennifer’s house,
And now there’s a kid on the way.

Jennifer, Jennifer, wants an abortion—
She says she’s too young for a baby—
But the law of the land says abortion is murder;
The answer is no, and not maybe.
See, murder is murder; we cannot condone
The destruction of innocent life.
And Billy, of course, is an innocent, too,
And he’s much, much too young for a wife.

So Jennifer, Jennifer, finds herself caught
In the view of a watchful Big Brother,
And Country and Church have a task on their hands—
How to keep the babe safe from its mother.
If murder is murder, for fetus or child,
Then surely assault is assault;
A fetus is damaged by drinking or smoking,
And all of it, Jennifer’s fault.

If Jennifer, Jennifer, falls down the stairs
Then the baby inside could be harmed;
And since that poor child is a ward of the state
It is right we should all be alarmed!
So Jennifer, Jennifer, needs to be safe
For the sake of the babe in her womb;
To keep the poor innocent safe from all harm,
Let’s keep Jennifer locked in her room.

But Jennifer, Jennifer, isn’t the first
Nor the last to be pregnant, you see.
The task that’s before us—protecting our children—
Is crucial, I think you’ll agree.
With the passing to law of my modest proposal,
I honestly think we’ll prevail.
It’s simple: Each woman who finds herself pregnant
Must spend the next nine months in jail.

Jennifer, Jennifer, shielded from harm
In a cell with a toilet and cot
With a closed-circuit camera, an unblinking eye,
For the safety of Jennifer’s tot.
When at last you deliver your new baby boy
We’ll whisk you right out through the door;
We care about kids while they’re inside your womb—
Once they’re out, we don’t care any more.

And Jennifer, Jennifer, can’t find her Billy—
Besides, he’s too young for a wife—
She weighs her alternatives, looks down each road…
And reluctantly takes her own life.

And the church says a prayer for the baby unborn
And a heartfelt and tearful farewell.
But Jennifer, Jennifer, so says the church,
Will be heading directly to hell.

There is, unfathomably, a lot of talk recently about what should have been settled long ago. What *was* settled long ago. And when even Jimmy Carter points to religion as a root cause of violence against women, there is no question which side atheists should be on.


  1. says

    Jimmy Carter, though (from a RawStory article), was blaming it on an incorrect interpretation of religious texts, or something like that. I got the feeling he was implying that there is some not only correct but better humanitarian interpretation out there. Or, one of those misusing religion defenses rather than flat out blaming religion.
    Even in this article, it cites Carter as blaming “carefully selected verses.” Sorry, I don’t see one needing to be all that careful in their verse selection. Quite the opposite, actually. One needs to be careful in their verse selection to show the Bible as a positive book. “Love your neighbor as yourself,” or however it goes, is a popular example.

  2. Cuttlefish says

    You’ll note, though, that the Carters actually left their old congregation over their views on women (among other views)–it is so often the case that people get all tribal and defend their congregation despite a few wrong views, so these words, and this action, from Carter looms large. And Carter cannot reasonably be accused of being anti-religious at all, so his comments cannot be so easily brushed aside as may those of outsiders. It’s “I’m a Christian like you, but I object in the strongest terms to your views on X, Y, and Z”.

    …at which time they will remind themselves that he is a weak Democrat, and they themselves, former Dixiecrats, are now staunch Republicans, so they can ignore him on *those* tribal grounds.

  3. Blanche Quizno says

    I have often made the same observation, but never so lyrically. Totally mesmerized by your use of triplets, BTW.

    I have relatives in Mississippi (transplants, not natives), so I visit frequently. The uninformed visitor might well conclude that the most lucrative industry in Mississippi is churches.

    Yet for all these churches, Mississippi has rampant societal problems, as listed in the excerpt in the body. Why? Are we to conclude that the churches are ineffective, too impotent and inefficient to help anyone; or are we to conclude that churches cause societal ills and THAT’s why we find such an infestation of churches in areas that also have the most unhealthy societal conditions?

  4. Mary L says

    Still heart breaking. I wonder how many young women “Jennifer” respresents. (One, of course, is too many.)

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