The Role of a Woman
+There are two categories of women in the US. One category believes women are only vessels to produce an heir. The others know that they are much more than that. How each type of woman reaches her conclusion is mostly a mystery, but there is a high correlation to biology and adherence to paternal social norms. Equally mysterious is how it is that a woman can support a position that is so detrimental to herself in particular and to her gender in general.
With a look back to Medieval times, the role of women in the peasant society was as labor, housekeeper and mother. Her services were essential in the raising of children who would ultimately provide more labor in the agrarian society in which they lived. There was no need fueling operation an heir as such since there was nothing to inherit other than possibly a broken down horse or a wagon that was in need of repairs. In aristocratic society she was mother only. It was her job to birth an heir and get out of the way. There was no need for her to interact with the heir or heirs other than to provide suckling. Even then that service could be purchased as needed. Attending women could provide everything the children needed until the boys were tapped to go to school and gain an appropriate education.
The role of woman as vessel was no where more evident than then she was unable to fulfill her duty as the mother of a son. Even though genetically it is the male that provides the DNA that makes a son or a daughter, there is some gender selection going on by the female body that can inform that selection process. While neither man nor woman can consciously decide the gender of a conception, selecting does go on in individual cases. His seed may contain equal portions of XX and XY gametes, but her body provides the host(ess) environment in which the embryo must grow. Early in its development, it begins to identify itself to the womb as being male or female. The mother's body either responds positively, negatively or neutrally to that identity. Her failure to produce a son may be fatal to her.
Then there were the instances of a problem birth. That usually meant a breach birth where the baby presents butt first and cannot exit via the birth canal. Such occurrences were always emotionally trying, but the outcome (in those days) was always determinant. Either the mother AND the baby died OR the baby was saved and the mother died. Although there is literary evidence that some cultures perfected the so called Caesarian birth, maternal mortality was almost assured throughout most of human history.
The natural outcome of the problem birth was the loss of the mother and the possible saving of the child. In a patriarchal society, that played into the mores of the culture. It was far easier to replace a wife than it was to replace an heir. If the heir was savable, it was saved. After all the wife was only the vessel through which a child entered this world. Her wants and needs were suborned to those of her husband and the needs of the family name and possibly the royalty to which he belonged.
So why is it that in 2012 we are still relegating women to the position of vessel to birth a living baby? Recent Federal Legislation, HR 358 the "Protect Life Act" only addresses the life of the baby that is in her womb. There is no consideration given to her life over that child. Yes it is a child, whether born to the daylight of this world or not, but is it still under HER control until it comes out of her alive. We can argue that point ad naseum, but only to obfuscate the real intent of our debate. How ironic it is that a woman dying for lack of essential treatment because a care provider deems it immoral will also kill the baby she carries because they refuse the treatment on moral, religious grounds or of faith.
In terms of faith, the mother is already an accomplished sinner during her years of life and the child is the "clean slate" worthy of a chance. Besides the child might be male and THAT trumps a vessel every time, doesn't it? Part and parcel of the debate over reproductive rights of women is the core concept of her purpose in life as vessel to bring the progeny of a patriarch into this world. This purpose is heavily indoctrinated into females of most organized religions. From the POV of religions, women do not have reproductive rights at all. She is supposed to submit herself to her husband and defer to him is all decisions and matters of business, family, etc. Such requirements supposes that she has no valid opinions or thoughts that should be considered. In some cultures females are to be dominated by every male relative, regardless of age seniority.
The controversy over reproductive rights in America is purely a throw-back to those Medieval times before women had personhood.