Purvi Patel, Women, and Male Supremacy

An Indiana woman named Purvi Patel was recently sentenced to over two decades in prison after being convicted on charges of feticide, or the unlawful termination of a fetus, and neglect of a dependent. How can those two charges co-exist in a criminal case in a country where abortion is legal you might ask. In July of 2013 Patel went to the emergency room because of sustained vaginal bleeding as a result of a miscarriage of a stillborn fetus. Not knowing what to do Patel told the medical staff at the hospital that she disposed of the stillborn fetus, though the prosecution claimed that the fetus was born alive, in a dumpster and came to the E.R. once realizing that she could not put an end to the bleeding. The police discovered text messages exchanged between Patel and a friend of hers in which Patel claimed to have attempted to purchase abortion-inducing pills from Hong Kong. Under Indiana law it is illegal to purchase these legal drugs online.

The pathologist who examined the evidence and testified for the defense argued that the fetus was approximately 23-24 weeks old and so its lungs were too underdeveloped to survive outside the womb. The pathologist testifying for the prosecution argued that the fetus was actually 25-30 weeks old and was born alive, using the “lung float test” –whereupon one places the lungs in a tub of water and if they float they supposedly have air in them and that air was supposedly acquired through breathing- to make this determination. However, this methodology, going back some three hundred years, and has not been considered scientifically valid for a century, given the variety of ways that air can enter the human body; even the pathologist who posited the theory to the jury as evidence of a live birth admitted that the lung float test is, in and of itself, unreliable. Frankly, it is disturbingly reminiscent of the Trial by Ordeal methods used to determine whether a woman was a witch by throwing her in a body of water to see if she would float or sink.

The prosecution’s pathologist claims there was other evidence indicative of a live birth such as the “weight of the lungs and the other organs, the inflation of the lungs and the air sacs, the presence of blood in the lung vessels and the ‘relative maturity’ of the lungs…along with a lack of blood in the baby’s body”. To the defense’s pathologist this same evidence was inconclusive. Also, the government’s own toxicologist could find no evidence of the abortion pills they claimed Patel took to induce her miscarriage. So, there was no actual direct evidence that supported the charges made by the state, and yet a woman will likely spend the next two decades behind bars.

Then there are the violations of her civil and legal rights. She was interrogated by police after being anesthetized, after losing a substantial amount of blood with the volume percentage of red blood cells present in her body at 22.1%, never having been read her Miranda rights and the judge permitting her illegally and unethically acquired statements to police to be entered into evidence at trial. All this fails to include that a politically active anti-choice OBGYN was permitted to testify in court that the fetus was 30 weeks old despite the fact that OBGYN’s “are not experts in assigning gestational age at birth”.

If one were attempting to scientifically determine the age of the fetus, which was “male and was 12.2 inches (30.99 cm) long and weighed 1.46 pounds (662 g). The body had exsanguinated so we should add about 100 ml/kg of blood, or 70.17 g (the weight of 66.2 ml of blood) to achieve a birth weight of 732.17 grams. Using average fetal growth curves for a male fetus (these are well known) the length is equivalent to 23 weeks gestation and 1 or 2 days and weight of 24 weeks and 3 or 4 days gestation”. Therefore if had experienced her miscarriage in the hospital instead of in her home she would not be in jail now because “at 23-24 weeks a woman is allowed to decline resuscitation” for extremely prematurely delivered fetuses whose viability outside the womb is highly unlikely.

This is not the only case in the United States where people have been arrested, charged, prosecuted, and convicted in the wake of the miscarriage of their pregnancy. Here are seven other cases:

“1. A critically ill, 27-year-old Washington D.C. woman was 26 weeks pregnant when a judge ordered her to have a Cesarean section. He did so with the understanding that the procedure would very likely kill her. It did. The baby died as well.

2. A pregnant woman in Iowa fell down a flight of stairs and went to the hospital. The hospital reported her to the police who arrested her for “attempted fetal homicide.”

3. A Utah woman gave birth to twins, one of which was stillborn. Her doctors blamed the death on her decision to delay a C-section. She was arrested for fetal homicide.

4. A Louisiana woman checked in to a hospital due to vaginal bleeding. She was locked up for a year on charges of “second-degree murder before medical records revealed she had suffered a miscarriage at 11 to 15 weeks of pregnancy.”

5. A Florida woman “was held prisoner at a hospital to prevent her from going home while she appeared to be experiencing a miscarriage. She was forced to undergo a Cesarean.” She still lost the baby, and her two small children at home were left without her while she was held. A state court ruled that this detention was wrong, although it would have been fine if she were further along in her pregnancy.

6. Another Florida woman who went into labor at home was picked up by a sheriff, driven to the hospital and forced to have a Cesarean against her will. She filed suit, and the court concluded that the woman’s personal constitutional rights “clearly did not outweigh the interests of the State of Florida in preserving the life of the unborn child.”

7. A severely depressed, pregnant 22-year-old woman in South Carolina tried to commit suicide. She was jailed for child abuse.”

It is unlikely that this trend will stop of its own accord. Since the anti-choice misogynists are unable to outright criminalize abortion they have taken to targeting pregnant people and their abortion rights in less direct ways by passing feticide laws, medically unnecessary clinic regulations, created delays between appointments and procedures, etc., etc., etc. Ultimately this issue is about self-determination and autonomy. But this is not the only issue where beliefs about women and self-determination intersect. Frankly, any conversation about women, but particularly about female sexuality, is littered with ideas intended to restrain a woman’s autonomy. Examine any conversation and it becomes strikingly obvious that value judgments are routinely made to restrain, restrict, or justify a particular legal or moral consideration about women and how they manage their bodies and their lives. Whether it is about contraceptives, consensual sexual activity, number of sexual partners, sexual assault, abortion, clothing, employment, family, and on, and on.

Recently a new phrase entered the American lexicon, the “War on Women”. This phrase, and its emergence in American culture, is both laudable and frustrating. Calling these activities a “War on Women” belies the reality that this is the status quo throughout the world. The “War on Women” did not begin with the election of the Republican Party to the majority position in nearly two-dozen states and the national Congress, and it will not end if Hilary Clinton is elected President in a few years. The banal regularity of patriarchy is precisely what makes it so destructive, and yet so difficult to combat. It must be challenged every day, in every venue, and the people most needed in this fight are men. We are the problem. Certainly there are women who perpetuate this antagonism, but regardless of their behavior the structural inequality between men and women remains. It is real, concrete, and institutionalized; protected by law, politics, religion, education, the police, the courts, and the broader culture. While progress has been made in important ways there is no conceivable reason any fair minded person could believe there has been enough.

Sources:
1. http://rhrealitycheck.org/article/2015/03/30/purvi-patel-sentenced-41-years-feticide-neglect-dependent/
2. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/04/01/magazine/purvi-patel-could-be-just-the-beginning.html?_r=1
3. https://drjengunter.wordpress.com/2015/03/17/if-purvi-patel-had-delivered-in-hospital-she-could-have-declined-neonatal-resuscitation-but-she-delivered-at-home-so-she-might-go-to-jail/
4. http://www.alternet.org/civil-liberties/arrested-having-miscarriage-7-appalling-instances-where-pregnant-women-were

Rand Paul and the Truth About Libertarianism

Now that Rand Paul has declared his intention to campaign for the office of the presidency it seems important to consider his ideological perspective. Paul considers himself a Libertarian. In the wake of the Great Recession Libertarianism has experienced a mild resurgence with ideas originating from this school of thought permeating right wing, some mainstream, and even liberal, discussions about how society should be structured. Simply put, Libertarianism is the most extreme form of capitalist ruling class ideology. It is an ideology founded on the belief that mavericks, or rugged individuals, make history rather than the masses, or the “herd”. This perspective is deeply ingrained in both the conscious, and unconscious, of American culture. In fact, it is the basis of the modern American Dream, becoming fabulously rich as a result of your own hard work, without relying on a single other soul. Which is precisely why Libertarians loathe taxation, redistribution, and public services. Any attempt by the State to intervene on behalf of people instead of property is considered “tyranny”. The Tea Party is one of the more recent socio-political movements that express these ideas, and Rand Paul has been a vocal proponent.

Filled with people who firmly believe in the supremacy of the rugged individualist, this movement regularly conflates fascism and socialism; as well as labeling even the most modest attempts at building social democracy and the welfare state as dreaded collectivism. For these people the State is the enemy, which is why they see fascism and socialism as two sides to a single, collectivist, coin. Regardless of which direction a particular State takes, implementing either fascist or socialist totalitarianism, the end result is Big Government dictating every aspect of each individual’s life, destroying their autonomy, and stifling the free market system of capitalism, causing economic crises. What is ironic about this point of view -beyond the fact that Rand Paul is an adherent and is a fucking Senator, an official of the big bad government- is that this perspective is completely ahistorical, and no successful capitalist can implement these ideas in the running of their business because capitalism cannot function without the labor theory of value and the intervention of the State.

Just examine the practices of one of the most successful capitalist enterprises in the world today: Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart understands, perhaps only on the level of the unconscious, the laws of capitalism discovered by Marx, which is why they take any and every opportunity to exploit their workforce and get the State to pick up the tab for the social costs incurred by paying people subsistence wages. Over half of the Wal-Mart workforce is receiving aid from government programs like Food Stamps, Medicaid, welfare, etc. This does not even take into account the construction and maintenance of the physical and cultural infrastructure built by the State over the last several centuries to advance the interests of commerce. Wal-Mart, and capitalism generally, could not exist without roads, bridges, the criminal justice system, and the myriad number of other forms of pro-capitalist intervention in the market system fostered by the State. Without the State to enforce the rule of the capitalist system why would anyone choose to starve, live in poverty, go without health care, or work for meager wages at a company run by billionaires? If the State is so anti-capitalist then why does it come to its rescue during each crisis, panic, recession, and depression? Why does it bail out banks, loan them money for next to nothing, subsidize investment, protect monopolies, etc., etc., etc.? How else is the capitalist to get the masses to create all the value from which they derive their profit if there is no mechanism in place to deprive them of that which they need to survive? The truth of the matter is that any class society is dependent on the State for the construction and maintenance of the ruling class’ hegemony.

However, in order to distract, diverge, and displace popular anger the capitalist ruling class must still propagate asinine theories about the functioning of the state and the economy like Libertarianism. What is most useful about these ideas is that they are utopian, and will never be subject to any kind of praxis. They will never materialize in the real world and can never be proven false; Libertarianism cannot fail, it can only be failed. If only we instituted a more perfect capitalism the system would function without failure and would meet the needs of every individual. Ideas like this perpetuate the system while forming the basis of political movements such as the Tea Party, or Conservatism more broadly, by convincing the masses to organize on behalf of a mode of production predicated on their own exploitation. In the utopianism of the Libertarian, the rugged individualist as such exists in order to hide the simple fact that without the exploitation of the masses there would be no one to farm the fields, work in the factories, or teach the children. For the truth of the matter is that the masses do not need the capitalists, it is the capitalists who need the masses.

Declining Profitability Warnings

Marxist economist Michael Roberts recently noticed a startling development within theAmerican economy; “The final estimate of US GDP in the fourth quarter of 2014 came out today. US real GDP growth was left unrevised at 2.2% year-on-year in the final three months of the year, and the figure for the whole of 2014 was unrevised at 2.4%. Mainstream economists were keen to suggest that the current quarter in 2015 ending this week could show a pick-up. But none mentioned the really important development – that corporate profits fell… $30.4 billion in the fourth quarter, in contrast to an increase of $64.5 billion in the third… This [means] that corporate profits are lower by 0.2% from this time last year and are down 0.8% in 2014 compared to 2013”. This is the first decline in year-on-year corporate profits since 2008, and it is a signal of an increasing risk of a slump in investment approximately six months to one year from now, according to Roberts’ predictions. For it is profits that drives investment, and investment that produces real GDP growth in capitalist economies; the result being another recession in approximately a year.

This method of analysis is known as The Law of the Tendency of the Rate of Profit to Fall, and what it seeks to explain is that despite the many, varied, initial triggers of any given economic crisis under capitalism, such as the decline in the housing market that triggered the financial crisis in 2008, the underlying cause of all crises is a lack of profitability. The long-term tendency for the declining rate of profit is a result of an inherent contradiction within the capitalist system. Individual capitalists compete with one another for control of total profits, and profits relative to the capital invested. To achieve these aims the capitalist must develop a means of increasing the productivity of labor, something often achieved through technological development. However, as the capitalist invests in new methods and equipment the accumulated cost of those investments begins to rise, and the accumulated cost of labor declines. The size of the labor force grows, but the cost of the labor force declines, as more and more people lose their jobs to technological innovation, putting them in increased competition with one another for employment, ultimately driving down wages. Increased exploitation of the labor force provides the capitalist with a greater share of value created.

However, only labor creates value, and the surplus value from which profit is derived. Surplus value is the difference between what Labor is paid in wages and the actual value they produce. Simply put, they are not equivalently compensated for the value their labor creates. Inevitably, technological developments initiated by individual capitalists to outcompete one another for control over the total profit expropriated, and the profit relative to capital invested, results in declines in value generated by the investment of the capitalist. As efficiency and output increase for the more developed capitalists they appropriate the share of the surplus value created by the less well developed capitalist, increasing their individual rate of profit, but shrinking the rate of profit of the less well-developed capitalists, and the economy as a whole. If the less well developed begin to modernize in an effort to catch up to his or her more well developed competitors the rate of profit will decline consistently, causing declines in the total profit produced by everyone. As a result the capitalists pull back on investment, causing a crisis. Only through crisis can profitability be restored, through destructive events like unemployment, bankruptcies, banking collapses, etc.

One might now be wondering how this framework accounts for the periods of economic growth experienced over the last few decades. Long-term decline can be overcome in the short term. For example, the tens of trillions of dollars in debt accumulated since the 1980’s by public and private institutions and people like the United States government, consumer debt through credit cards, college loans, mortgages, and corporate debt, can stimulate periods of growth as experienced in the 1980’s, 1990’s and the first decade of the 2000’s. The growth we have seen in corporate profitability since the Great Recession Roberts’ attributes to bankruptcies and large amount of debt written off by the remaining global capitalists. Ultimately, to further try and restore profitability another crisis will be necessary. Since the recovery in the economy began in 2009 we have seen a historic increases in the stock market, with companies being overvalued well beyond their real value. Therefore it seems possible that the trigger of the next crisis will emerge out of the financial sector in the form of a stock market crash.

The political implications of Marx’s law can be seen quite easily over the last forty years or so. In order to restore profitability the neo-liberals began privatizing public services, financialization, targeting unions, driving down wages, and deindustrializing the well developed economies to take advantage of cheap labor in the newly developing economies. The neo-liberal era has been an era of the global capitalist ruling class intensifying their economic warfare on the rest of us by trying to roll back the achievements made by working people in the second half of the 20th Century. They call it Globalization. The period of national capitalist economies protected by domestic governments from the national capitalist economies of other countries has become a global capitalist economy wherein wealth is being redistributed from labor to capital. Domestic governments initiated a race to the bottom wherein any governmental policy that deterred investment, such as labor laws, environmental regulation, and taxation to pay for public services had to be targeted. Hence the rise in for profit colleges, rises in tuition for public universities, cuts to programs fighting poverty, road, bridge, and highway maintenance and reconstruction, cutting taxes on corporations and the rich, etc. Now it is even mainstream in the Republican Party to speak of privatizing parts of Medicare and Social Security. Wealth is distributed from Capital to Labor by re-appropriating the value that capital steals from labor, for only labor is capable of creating, through taxation and policies that increase wages, protect collective bargaining, provide education, housing, health care, safe working conditions, etc.

The effects of these changes can be seen in other ways. Capitalist crisis and class war increase the pressures felt by every sector of the working population. Social cohesion disintegrates and crime escalates, as was seen in the historic rise in violent crime in America from the late 1960’s to the 1990’s. More Americans are imprisoned than ever before, largely for nonviolent crimes. America has more prisoners per capita than any country on Earth. A society needs prisons if it is not longer going to be building not for profit entities such as schools and hospitals. Such as it is we have seen increases in for profit versions of each of these institutions, as well as for profit prisons. In the end there is no way out of this crisis without a reorganization of society, an economy under democratic control by the masses.

Source: https://thenextrecession.wordpress.com/2015/03/27/profit-warning/