Guest post from Jenn Anderson at ToughxCookies
Once upon a time, there was a young girl. Pregnant at seventeen and severely uneducated about sex, it was during what she thought was an unexplainably intense period that she learned what a miscarriage was. After being hit with all of this information at once, she learned that it was going abnormally and that there were complications which, without medical intervention, would threaten her life. She made the tough choice to do what was necessary to spare her life.
In present- day America, there is a billboard of a 35 year-old man holding the outline of a baby, accusing his 19 year-old ex-girlfriend of “killing” their child although she states she miscarried (1). My inner 17 year-old is seething at the blatant disregard for this woman’s rights and privacy in the face of indignant misogyny. This man states that he had a right to impose his wishes on his girlfriend’s choice of whether or not to keep the child: another example of this new school of thought where those who are incapable of becoming pregnant think they know what is best for those who are.
Right now, women in America are facing the fight of their lives. Forty-six years ago in the case of Griswold v. Connecticut, married couples won the right to reproductive care by having a state law overturned that banned contraceptives (2). It wasn’t until 1973, after winning Roe v. Wade, that women had the right to control their own bodies and exercise their reproductive rights (3). This legislation upheld a woman’s right to choose to abort a pregnancy in its early stages without fear of legal repercussions. Less than forty years later, we are looking at legislation being introduced which would dictate under which circumstances women would be able to receive assistance paying for the costly procedure (4). This legislation also includes protection for medical providers who refuse to provide abortions or other reproductive care (including emergency contraceptives) based on their religious or moral beliefs (5).
In some states, medical providers are required to pressure their patients into keeping the pregnancy by showing them sonograms of the fetus (6). On top of that, there is a strong push to limit an individual’s access to abortion services based on how they got pregnant. One bill in particular posits that abortion is only acceptable in cases of forcible rape (7). Who, praytell, is in charge of deciding what constitutes “forcible rape,” and what protections are there to ensure justice is being served to women who are the victims of such horrific crimes?
Thirty-one of our fifty states currently have anti-abortion legislation passed or pending (8). In the state of Louisiana, there is a bill that has been introduced that would outlaw all abortions, even if the mother’s life is threatened (9). I can’t think of anything more despicable than blatant disregard for a woman’s life in the interest of a pro-life agenda. The right wing political strategy right now is to flood the state and federal legislatures with anti-abortion laws. If we, as a country, don’t stay vigilant and regularly educate ourselves about these attacks on our reproductive rights and freedoms, we could easily find ourselves caught in a web of legislation that reduces us to little more than obedient sheep controlled by religious doctrine. Separation of church and state is a fantastic concept, but rarely a reality when the primary power base of the right wing is of the fundamentalist Christian persuasion.
I say that women in America are facing the fight of their lives right now, and I stand behind that. Most of our lawmakers are biologically male and, as such, are missing a vital lens through which to view reproductive legislation. I also think they’re missing a key point: Guys, pregnancy and child support are very closely related. Think about it. It is a slippery slope, and if we (women and pro-choice allies) don’t stand up and fight for our reproductive rights, what is there to stop our other rights from being taken away? After all, it wasn’t too long ago that women weren’t even allowed to vote (thank you, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton; I am forever in your debt) or own property, since they were considered to be property themselves!
References: All sites accessed 07June2011
1)http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/06/08/us-abortion-billboard-idUSTRE7570F720110608 2)http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=%2Fc%2Fa%2F2011%2F06%2F06%2FEDI81JPDOH.DTL 3) http://womenshistory.about.com/od/abortionuslegal/p/roe_v_wade.htm 4) http://www.opencongress.org/bill/112-h3/text 5)http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/02/18/AR2011021803251.html 6)http://trailblazersblog.dallasnews.com/archives/2011/05/perry-ceremonially-signs-sonog.html 7)http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/01/republican-plan-redefine-rape-abortion 8)http://blog.reidreport.com/2011/06/slowly-but-surely-american-women-are-losing-the-right-to-choose/ 9)http://housebill587.com/about-hb587/