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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Human Rights: Why Reproduction Should Be

a licensed activity

Otty Sanchez and her baby

This is Otty Sanchez, a 33-year-old woman from San Antonio, Texas. Otty is in the news today because she killed her only child, a 3.5-week-old boy named Scott Wesley Sanchez Buchholz. Ms. Sanchez then proceeded to skin, gut, and decapitate the infant, and then, according to one or more news reports, eat parts of its body.

This last fact is disputed by Ms. Sanchez' family. Understandably. While the specter of your sister or daughter killing her kid is bad enough, the idea of said person actually cannibalizing the defenseless sprog has to make the toughest stomach churn.

Also understandably, the tabloid press, or gutter press, or yellow press, whatever you call it, is going hog wild with cries of "Cannibal Mom!" while a large number of Ms. Sanchez' fellow-Texans and fellow-Americans, most likely Republicans from the tone of their comments, are calling for her death, accompanied, preferably, by prolonged suffering.

La Casa de Los Gatos has only this to say to this last pack of hyenas: Shut the fuckety-fucking-fuck UP! You fucking morons. You fucking-fuckety-fucked-up fucking morons. Exclamation points, multiple. Do you seriously think a human being who has been trying to have a baby for something like five fucking years is going to kill and mutilate it just for fun? Do you people have any idea what pregnancy does to a woman's body and mind? No, of course not, or you couldn't make your moronic pronouncements. All you want to do is cannibalize the tragedy, and it is a tragedy, you worthless fucking fucks.

La Casa de Los Gatos is also using this tragedy, but for a different purpose: to point out that procreation is indulged in way too casually by all and sundry, with never a thought to the consequences. To argue for contraception as a basic human right (and, yes, that includes abortion, adoption, birth control, chemical or mechanical, sterilization, and anything else in our population control armory). To call attention to the incredible hypocrisy with which our society yawps about the sacredness of sprog and human life and procreation while ignoring the real needs of children, mothers, mentally ill people, poor people without resources.

This issue is our favourite (if one can grace it with such a description) bugbear.

Otty Sanchez was diagnosed as a schizophrenic approximately a year ago. The father of the baby, Scott Buchholz, is also a schizophrenic. Otty and Scott met at a local college where they were both training for careers as dental or medical techs. It is not clear whether either of them has a job. What is clear is that both of them are seriously mentally ill with an illness that requires them to remain on medication for the rest of their lives, and that, absent regular medication, they are or could be a danger to themselves or others.

So riddle me this, children. What are two seriously mentally ill people doing having a fucking baby? Srsly. We don't know if schizophrenia is hereditary, but the NIMH (National Institutes of Mental Health) has this to say on the topic:
If you have a close relative (parent or sibling) with schizophrenia, you have a 10 percent chance of also developing schizophrenia. In identical twins, the chances are much higher, at 40 to 65 percent.


In July of 2008, a study came out looking at the genetic causes of schizophrenia. So far, it looks as if there are three kinds of genetic material (microdeletions) present in non-schizophrenics and lacking in schizophrenics, and it's thought that this factor can make a person more prone to developing schizophrenia, but may not be the actual cause. These microdeletions do seem to run in families. Other factors thought to combine together with these genes include problems with brain chemistry, injuries to the brain during birth that leave the brain smaller than normal, and traumatic or very stressful events.
NIMH states that one per cent of the planetary population is schizophrenic. That would be some sixty million people who suffer from this mental disease. Most mentally ill people pose no danger to others. However, symptoms of schizophrenia include hallucinations, auditory and visual, and disorders of thought. Schizophrenics might not understand the nature of the thoughts they are having and might not understand cause and effect when in the grip of their personal, let's call them, demons.

This would explain why a woman who wanted and loved her child might pick up a knife and inflict fatal damage on the child and near-fatal damage on herself.

Otty Sanchez was also diagnosed with post-partum psychosis. Post-partum psychosis (PPP) is a rare mental illness that affects one out of 1,000 women who have borne a child. Unlike the more common PPD (post-partum depression), PPP, which results from the same causes as PPD, can cause a new mother to suffer hallucinations, lose contact with reality, and become a danger to herself, her child, and possibly, others.

Ms. Sanchez has been institutionalized in the past for mental illness. And, to the credit of her poor, disordered mind, she tried to get help shortly before she killed her child. Surprisingly, the hospital to which she went released her. Or perhaps it's not so surprising. She went to the emergency room for treatment (let me guess — no health insurance). And, as everyone knows, emergency rooms are not staffed with mental health workers, in addition to being horribly overcrowded, overused, and understaffed. So they sent her home to her baby. FTA:
Had deputies been called to the home, they might have been able to intervene, said Deputy Chief Dale Bennett of the Bexar County Sheriff's Office.

"Most of our officers have been trained in mental health awareness, so they had a strong probability of recognizing what was going on," Bennett said.

Many of the people involuntarily committed for psychiatric evaluation initially are arrested by law enforcement officers investigating domestic disturbances, said Kevin McManus, a public defender who works with Bexar County clerk's Mental Health Office.

State law doesn't permit health care providers or authorities to detain a mentally ill patient against his their will unless that person is considered an immediate threat to himself or others.

"A lot of times, the officer is the best person to tell if someone appears to be a threat," McManus said.
Ironic, innit? Would you call the cops on your sister/cousin/kid? Otty Sanchez' family does not appear to be wealthy. In addition, they're Latina, and if a renowned scholar like Dr. Gates gets hassled by the cops in an upscale University town, just imagine the relationships between poor Latinos and the cops in Texas.

I'm guessing the family figured if they called the cops, Otty would be manhandled, thrown in jail, and further traumatized, not to mention the issue of what it would do to her already fragile mental health. So they didn't call the cops. They figured, she had a therapist appointment on Monday, they'd tell the shrink she was "hearing voices," and try to figure out how to handle the whole thing then. Except right before that, she killed the baby.

I know it sounds harsh to say that people like Otty Sanchez and Scott Buchholz have no business having a baby. And it sounds like eugenics to ask for population control measures that prevent people who have inheritable diseases that will permanently and negatively affect a child's health or life from having a child. But how do you propose to protect children from danger otherwise? Implementing such a scheme would undoubtedly raise cries of racism, discrimination, class warfare, undemocratic actions not consistent with human rights and civil liberties, et cetera, ad infinitum, ad nauseam.

But I am so fucking heartily sick of seeing the most defenseless of victims fall prey to the needs and wishes of others. How could this tragedy — like Andrea Yates' tragedy, and countless others — have been prevented? Anybody have an idea? All I can come up with is reversible sterilization the minute people's gonads become active, followed by a reversal only when an individual has shown that they are ready, willing, and ABLE to provide the kind of care a helpless sprog needs. Otherwise, what we're saying to ourselves and each other is that the wishes of individuals to procreate outweigh the basic right to safety of the result of the procreation. If we're not willing to do this, then we should just come out and bag the whole "human life is sacred" crap and start using fetii or even children as food material. Yaknow, Soylent Green, and all that.

For the record, I think abortion is far more humane than killing a child after it's born.

And this is how much the issue of PPD is finally affecting the collective consciousness of this country: none other than Rupert Murdoch catbox litter, aka Faux Noise, is actually calling for mandatory pre- and post-partum screening for new mothers. Good idea, Fox, but won't we need to finance this, as in, have some kind of single-payer health plan in order for this to happen? Otherwise, what's the solution? Screen them and turn them loose? So they can kill their kids?

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At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Do you people have any idea what pregnancy does to a woman's body and mind? No, of course not, or you couldn't make your moronic pronouncements. All you want to do is cannibalize the tragedy, and it is a tragedy, you worthless fucking fucks."

Well said, PC. A similar and misguided circus went on with Andrea Yates, who, alone (and already unstable) cared for 5 children under the age of 6 (if I'm not mistaken) and her father who was ill with Alzheimer's. This is crazy-making for a stable and resilient person, much more so for somebody as vulnerable and already unwell as Yates (whose husband, BTW, never "noticed anything unusual" -- talk about denial...)

One thing that is desperately missing for new mothers in this country is the awareness of what motherhood really entails -- the stress, sleeplessness, the constant insecurity and worry. Post-partum depression is more prevalent than we realize. And so is PP psychosis.

All young/new (any, really) mothers need security and as much social support as it is possible -- and none of it is really taken into account here. In countries where health care is really about care and where people's lives (including those of mothers' and children's) matter, there are generous paid maternity leaves, which lessen the burden of taking care of the newborn. Not here.

It's really a miracle, I think, that infanticide does not happen more often.


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