In recent news at a long-term care facility, a woman in a vegetative state gave birth to a baby.
And before anybody asks, no, she quite literally, did not ask for it.
A vegetative state is caused by damage to the brain that impairs one's consciousness. Someone in a long-term vegetative state loses awareness, the ability to think and can't respond to commands. These people are not conscious, yet all the while, not brain-dead. They exist in a murky grey area, and while they are alive, they are not truly living. Other than normal body function and automatic responses to certain stimuli, they are not conscious.
A woman in such a state, unconscious and in the facility to receive care, was sexually assaulted.
She was not pregnant before her condition. Those responsible for her care, according to reports, apparently did not even know that she was pregnant until she gave birth.
This woman's autonomy was stolen from her in her most vulnerable condition. A man, who was supposed to be responsible for her care, for her nutrition and for her well-being, took advantage of her. She could not speak. She could not say anything. But most importantly, she could not say yes. Frozen in her body, her body was not her own. Her autonomy was corrupted, and her consent and rights were blatantly disregarded. In that moment of sexual assault, she was not a person, but a tool — a means for a sinister motive.
My heart hurts for the woman in question, and I hope the perpetrator is apprehended for his crimes.
Even near-dead and unaware, she was sexually assaulted. She became pregnant with a child. One may ask, how many times was she sexually assaulted? How many other women besides herself are abused in similar ways, whose stories have yet to reach the news? How often does this occur to those whose voices are silenced and bodies are stolen?
Women are not tools. They are, shockingly, people. When women are unconscious, they are people. When women cannot speak, they are people. When women are unaware, they are people. And people are worthy of basic respect, decency and human rights.
Women who cannot defend themselves should not have to. A person who can't say no, can't say yes. Consent cannot come from the unconscious.
Her body was and is her body, even in a vegetative state, and no twisted man's "desires" can change that.