Sarah Jeong continues her brilliant, obsessive tear through the Star Wars canon (here's yesterday's post on the difficulties of the Warsverse's storage media and IT systems), this time looking at the outsized role that the lack of obstetric care plays in the collapse of the Old Republic and the rise of the Empire.
The center of Jeong's argument is that Anakin "Darth Vader" Skywalker has a complete meltdown when he learns that Padme Amidala is in for a difficult birth -- complicated by the fact that she is unexpectedly having twins. Both facts -- central to the story and its unfolding -- bespeak a world where pregnant women get no ultrasounds and where childbirth complications are routinely fatal.
Effectively, this is a world where this is no Planned Parenthood, no routine provision of antenatal care, no real medical practice of obstetrics -- all amidst a super-advanced science of robotics and FTL travel.
(Jeong understands that Lucas isn't deliberately employing this, but it's an outgrowth of his lazy shorthand in which childbirth is "a black box that can explain anything that is difficult to explain, like how Anakin can turn on everyone he loves and all the principles he holds dear, or how Padme can just up and die without anything being visibly wrong.")
Of course, talking about this in public has flushed out the trumpist crowd who hate lady-parts so much they'll defend Revenge of the Sith rather than giving them their due.
If there were any women’s healthcare available, there is no reason why Padme wouldn’t take advantage of it. For one thing, her husband is flipping the fuck out over her possibly dying in childbirth. Why didn’t she visit a doctor in an attempt to soothe his fevered mind?
Even if access to reproductive health services is limited in this galaxy—as in ours—Padme is probably the woman best situated to get it. She’s a sitting Senator residing in Coruscant, the capital of the galaxy. She’s clearly a woman of means, given that she has three elaborate costume changes for every hour of the day. Padme is hanging out in a posh penthouse in the most populous city in the galaxy: if there’s medical assistance out there, she can get it.
Furthermore, there is no bar to Padme and Anakin visiting the OB/GYN together. Although their marriage is a secret, Padme doesn’t hide the fact that she’s pregnant. She still attends Senate sessions, and when Obi-Wan visits her, her baby bump is evident and he even comments on it. Anakin has plenty of innocuous reasons to hang around Padme and even accompany her to a doctor’s office. She’s a Senator, and he’s a super magic law enforcement agent frequently assigned to protect politicians (including her, in Episode II).
And if the couple were still super paranoid about visiting the doctor together, she could just go by herself. It’s not like “ANAKIN SKYWALKER IS THE SECRET FATHER OF MY BABY” is written on her cervix.
Did Inadequate Women’s Healthcare Destroy Star Wars’ Old Republic?