Judith Martin, the etiquette columnist, once fielded a question about how a pregnant woman ought to react when strangers place their hands on her abdomen.
More recently, a pregnant woman's position was eliminated. That this should be a coincidence sounds improbable enough on its own, but she worked at a golf course. Where she was a golf pro1. Her erstwhile manager intimated that being a golf pro was incompatible with motherhood. The New York Post reports that she'd said she saved the woman the drive:
All this is more than just a sense that a woman's reproductive system is the only really important part of her. The larger obstacle to reproductive freedom is the notion that childbearing is a public concern.
The children, you see, are our future. That makes them ours. Anyone can pet them, anyone can stroke them, anyone can participate in their care (by issuing instructions and passing laws, that is, not by actually performing a task, or even spending their own money).
That attitude informs various consent laws for abortions. For that matter, it justifies requiring doctors to give speeches before they can do anything: a baby/fetus is public property, and a woman can't just make these decisions on her own. That's why doctors (occasionally at the command of the state legislature) interrogate women who want to be sterilized: it's like me trying to fence off half an acre of Yosemite2.
It's more than an inability to see women as people -- it's an inability to see a baby as a woman's, rather than all of humanity's.
1Ralph Kiner once (at least) told an ostensibly hilarious joke about how he was able to beat his wife, a professional golfer, only once -- when she was eight months pregnant.
2Except the Bush Administration probably wouldn't automatically object to that.