The fight for women´s rights

Allie Boulier

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By Allie Boulier

 

Growing up as a girl in a post Roe v Wade America, I have considered myself privileged. Unlike girls in third world countries, I have access to contraceptives like birth control, menstrual hygiene products (although these are currently taxed as a luxury in the U.S.) and since 1973, the legal right to have an abortion.

 

Since the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, threats of repealing Roe v Wade have never been more real or terrifying. If a case that could potentially overturn Roe reached the Supreme Court, with the political leanings of the current Justices, Roe could crumple like a house of cards, but it is not so cut and dry. The Alabama law is so restrictive that pro-life supports are concerned the Supreme Court would not be swayed, and proponents of keeping Roe v Wade the law of the land are pinning their hopes on Chief Justice John Roberts who despite his conservatism, has shown no desire for such a drastic reversal of precedent.

 

Although Roe states that all abortions in the first trimester and second trimester are legal, the proposed legislation in Alabama, which has now been approved by the Senate, states that abortion at all stages is illegal, including incidents of rape and incest, but is legal when the mother’s life is at risk. Additionally, the doctors who perform the procedure would be charged with felonies under the bill and face up to 99 years in prison and a woman who receives an illegal. Of course, becoming a felon means the removal of the right to vote under federal law, and thus the pro-choice movement is heavily disadvantaged and eventually, silenced. Interestingly enough, the bill passed 25-6, in which all of the 25 senators who voted yes were white men, who of course, are significantly less likely to be raped, and will never be pregnant.

 

The bill is obviously heavily opposed from the left, which is the primary purpose of the bill. Legislators do not need the bill passed now in Alabama when the endgame is for this case to go to court and eventually rise to the Supreme Court and become federal law. That’s why it’s not just citizens from Alabama that should be worried- it´s all American women under fire.

 

This bill is only one of the many serious threats to the right to choose. Georgia has also passed ¨The Heartbeat Bill¨ which bans abortion after six weeks, when a heartbeat can be detected. Unlike the Alabama law, the Georgia Heartbeat Bill allows for legal abortions in cases of rape and incest, as well as when the mother´s life is threatened. However, this bill is far from fair, as a six-week pregnancy is a mere two weeks of a late period, when most women aren’t even aware they are pregnant, effectively banning essentially every abortion. This is not to mention the fact that pregnancy tests usually don’t even work until a few days after a late period. If the state requires counseling, an ultrasound, and a 24-hour wait period before the procedure (all of which Virginia requires), then the time to get an abortion is extremely limited.

 

Perhaps though, no bill is more of a sign of a patriarchal, dystopian future for the United States similar to Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale than the bill recently proposed in Texas. The Texas bill would make abortion illegal at every stage of life, and has no exceptions- meaning it is illegal to get an abortion under circumstances of rape, incest, or threat to the mother’s life. When this law states that threat to the life of the mother is not grounds for an abortion, it unarguably assumes the fetus is more valuable than a living, breathing woman. That’s how little legislators care for women — they would legally allow for a woman to die for something unborn to become born.

 

If that isn’t convincing enough of the patriarchal implications of this law, then consider the death penalty. The death penalty itself is logically not pro-life, as the government would legalize the murder of a person. This Texas bill would charge a woman who receives an abortion with homicide, which is punishable under the death penalty in Texas. Killing people to ¨save lives¨ is a logical fallacy, and a blatant display of sexism and disregard for human life.

 

This exposes the bare bones of the pro-life movement. In truth, at the heart of the pro-life movement is a genuine lack of scientific understanding of the female body and the procedure itself along with religious motivation based off of traditional patriarchal opinions. That’s why pro-lifers are pro-life but pro-guns, pro-life but pro-death penalty, pro-life but anti-healthcare for all. In my interpretation, the pro-life movement only values the fetus as unborn, and once it enters the world it’s sink or swim.

 

If any of these bills pass and repeal Roe, unborn fetuses and dead bodies will legally have more rights than a woman in the United States. Yes, dead bodies. In the United States, it is illegal to remove a brain-dead body off of life support without permission and organs cannot be removed without permission as well, meaning the government would have more regulation over living women than corpses. Again, if the pro-life movement was pro-life at heart, it would call for everyone to be an organ and blood donor, but instead it rallies for the restriction of women’s rights and bodies.

 

When it comes to male rights, no law in the U.S. restricts men´s access to condoms or vasectomies, yet Brett Kavanaugh called birth control ¨abortion inducing pills¨ because they prevent fertilization. If life begins before fertilization, vasectomies would be equal to abortions, yet they remain unrestricted because of the extreme overrepresentation of men in the government. This brings to mind Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which states that discrimination on the basis of sex is illegal, yet birth control is restricted while condoms and vasectomies are not.

 

And truly, if life begins before fertilization, every month when a woman experiences her period it would make the news as mass genocides, as millions of eggs across the world are lost to monthly blood flow. It is scientific, irrefutable fact that life does not begin before fertilization, as we do not consider a woman to be pregnant if she does not have an unfertilized egg. If it was not clear enough, this is about restricting women’s access to contraceptives, the right to choose, and eliminating equality as we know it in the country.

 

One of the primary differences between a developed and an undeveloped country is access to contraceptives. When given access to birth control, menstrual hygiene productions, and abortions, women are more likely to receive a higher education, and less likely to have large amounts of children, which often kill women in third world countries. This prevents extreme population growth, promotes the economy as women enter the workforce, and improves the quality of life for citizens.

 

In the state of Virginia, to receive an abortion a woman must undergo required state counseling, undergo a 24-hour wait, and endure an invasive ultrasound and receive a picture of the ultrasound before the abortion, all of which does not come free of cost, of course. Additionally, if she is a minor she must have parental consent, and if that is not granted she must be judged for maturity in a court. Using this logic, if she is too immature, she is forced to have a baby. If a 16-year-old girl tried to adopt a baby it would not be legal, but if the same girl was pregnant and was also deemed immature, she is forced to carry the fetus to term.

 

Additionally in Virginia, it is required that a licensed doctor hand the patient the pill for an abortion for the first trimester, rather than an assistant or nurse. It does not take an M.D. to administer a pill, making this law´s primary purpose to stand as a barrier against abortions, as clinics have more assistants and nurses than doctors and it contains no scientific basis on why this is necessary. Recently, the physicians-only law was repealed in Virginia, but on further reflection the judge rescinded his own order, meaning the decision will go to trial.

 

Let’s allow for doctors and women to decide on abortions, rather than allowing elderly white men to speculate on women’s health and regulate women’s bodies based on false and biased information. If the President can´t acknowledge the science behind climate change, why should we trust the same government to have accurate knowledge on the female body?

 

No one is pro-abortion. I´m simply pro-choice, as it is the right for every woman and her doctor to individually and privately decide on what path to take on her pregnancy, a path that the government does not interfere or inhibit.

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/07/health/kavanaugh-abortion-inducing-contraceptives.html

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/virginia-politics/judge-rescinds-order-allowing-non-doctors-to-perform-most-abortions/2019/05/14/cef44f4a-7691-11e9-b3f5-5673edf2d127_story.html?utm_term=.5d66a0233b5d

 

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/14/us/abortion-law-alabama.html

 

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/ohio-abortion-heartbeat-bill-pregnant-11-year-old-rape-victim-barred-abortion-after-new-ohio-abortion-bill-2019-05-13/

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/04/10/texas-bill-would-make-it-possible-put-women-death-having-abortions/

 

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/alabama-abortion-ban-white-men_n_5cdc101ce4b0c39d2a1474ad