This weekend is Mother’s Day, when people will be celebrating mothers across the globe. How is it that the very same week that we celebrate mothers, North Carolinians voted for legislation like Amendment One, which disenfranchises a whole lot of mothers? What about Kansas, where a Republican-sponsored anti-abortion bill allows doctors to withhold medical information from a woman if it might prompt her to have an abortion?
The 69-page bill also protects medical professionals from medical malpractice suits in the event that the information withheld negatively affects the health of the mother or child, although a wrongful death suit could be filed in the event that the mother or child dies.
Clearly we’ve forgotten about H.R. 358, introduced by Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) last year. It would have allowed a pregnant woman to die even if performing an abortion could save her. Republicans also want to cut that dastardly (tongue planted firmly in cheek) Meals on Wheels program, which provides transportation and meals for almost 1 million elderly people. Who knew that helping people who helped others during their lifetime and are having trouble helping themselves in their twilight years was a bad thing?
Are some lawmakers so mean-spirited that helping the elderly, two-thirds of whom are women, is a problem? What is sad about these legislative attacks is that they are helmed by men who can only be on this Earth because a woman brought them here. How exactly do you preach family values and dismiss the rights and needs of mothers so easily?
These same men will be celebrating, remembering or thinking about the mothers in their lives, while cutting other mothers off at the knees. These men, who feign patriotism and promote individualism to the extent that they have no care for their fellow man, woman or child, obviously have forgotten the patriarchal mandate that men always protect women and children, even in war. I suspect that this mandate has gone by the wayside or should be revised to read that men protect only women and children they know or about whom they care; other than that, it’s every woman for herself. Got it!
On Mother’s Day, it becomes more and more apparent how little respect we hold for mothers in real life. Mother’s Day lets us off of the hook for all of the horrible things that we do to mothers on a day-to-day basis, in the way that going to church on Sunday absolves the sometimes heinous behavior that Christians engage in during the week.
While I am always happy to see my mother, I am not sipping the Mother’s Day Kool-Aid this year. It is clear that what we say about mothers (irreplaceable, important, special, needed, respected, valued) and what we do to mothers (take their civil rights, diminish the value of their lives, disregard their need for help or support, argue for their death when it can be medically avoided) are two different things. In the words of the late, great Johnny “Guitar” Watson, that’s a real mother for you.
Nsenga K. Burton, Ph.D., is editor-at-large for The Root. Follow her on Twitter.