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Preternatural pregnancy in The X-Files episode "Aubrey"

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aubrey.jpgIn the 1995 X-Files episode "Aubrey," a pregnant police detective experiences spells which drive her to dig up skeletons from a 50-year old murder case that had been missing until then. The murders were committed by a serial killer who carved the word SISTER or BROTHER into the victims' chests. Detective Morrow's pregnancy also brings on terrifying nightmares of the same crimes being committed in the present day.

In the first half of the episode, Detective Morrow's seemingly psychic powers are portrayed as an extreme version of the normal stereotypes of "women's intuition" and "mother's instincts." These gendered "talents" are mirrored by Agent Scully's intuition in guessing correctly that Morrow is in a relationship with her boss and is pregnant. When Mulder asks Scully how she knows this, Scully replies, "A woman senses these things."

What is probably closer to the truth is that Scully is a trained investigator who picked up on subtle interpersonal cues and a trained medical doctor who noticed physical indicators of pregnancy. But in the script it's boiled down to "woman's intuition," because it is assumed women's area of expertise is in relationships, romance, and reproduction. Imagine this hypothetical exchange in which Scully is analyzing a body at a grisly crime scene:

Scully: "The victim's body was taken apart with a chainsaw."
Mulder: "How do you know?"
Scully: "A woman senses these things."
Scully might use the same skills of observation and medical expertise in both situations, but attributing the second to "women's intuition" would likely be read as a joke by the viewer because it is outside what are seen as the natural female talents.

Teleportation as pregnancy metaphor in The Fly

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the-fly-diagram.pngThe increase in technology which allows us to see, monitor, and control pregnancy has only made Western culture more anxious about it. Ultrasound gives us a fetal image, prenatal genetics is progressing to a point where fetal DNA can be sorted from the mother's blood and analyzed, and in vitro fertilization lets us choose which embryos will even make it to the uterus. Yet legislative and judicial actions to control pregnancy and pregnant women have been increasing steadily in recent years.

In the 2010 session, 24 states enacted legislation dealing with reproductive rights, including a Missouri law requiring providers to offer fetal anesthesia to women getting abortions and a Utah bill to classify some miscarriages as murder.1

In the 2011 legislative session, state legislators introduced more than 900 items dealing with reproduction. These include abortion bans to replace Roe v. Wade introduced in 20 states, bills to ban insurance coverage of abortion in 24 states, and bills dealing with substance abuse during pregnancy in 15 states. Twenty states (just so far this year) have introduced ultrasound requirements prior to abortion. These bills require a provider to show the ultrasound image to the woman seeking an abortion (though the woman is "permitted to avert her eyes," in the words of Alabama's proposed bill), showing the importance we give to this techno-image. Legislators enacted 162 of those 900 items as new laws, 49% which restrict access to abortion services.2

This spring in Ohio, a fetus "testified" in a hearing on an abortion bill.