Reproductive rights have always been a contentious topic in the United States. With the supreme court confirmations of Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney-Barrett, the future of reproductive rights in this country became endangered. These new judges have caused a shift from a minor 5-4 to a significant 6-3 conservative majority, thus solidifying the Court’s anti-choice bloc.
It’s not as if reproductive rights weren’t already at stake, but their reassurance as “inalienable” human rights is now uncertain. While overturning a monumental case like Roe v. Wade might take more time, this more substantial majority might allow abortion bans, like banning the procedure after 12 weeks of pregnancy.
I’ve written “inalienable” in quotes, because this country has never held women, especially women of color, at an equal standing as cis white men. This might be controversial to say, but I would be remiss to ignore this as a genuine reason for the lack of reproductive rights protection.
The “American Value”
Examining the American values that created this “great” nation might show us why women are continuously sidelined.
This country was founded on the ideals of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. However, the paramount phrase “all men are created equal” put forth a clear message: America was for cis white men and for their progress only.
The fact that women had to fight for their right to vote and an amendment to the Constitution had to be made to ensure women were guaranteed that fundamental right still shocks me. Now, a century after the 19th Amendment was passed, women are still struggling and fighting to protect their freedom of autonomy.
It might be nihilistic, but we should have realized that the founding fathers never envisioned a future where a woman would be considered a human being and not property.
Attack on Planned Parenthood
This was all the more evident in 2019 when the Trump Administration defunded Planned Parenthood from the Title X program.
Title X funding is used to provide essential healthcare to over 4 million people annually. This move, fueled by religious and misogynistic sentiment, was a tangible threat to the mental and physical wellbeing of the women in our nation.
Planned Parenthood was established in 1916 in New York City. Despite it being around for more than a century now, the organization is under constant scrutiny for its services. Not only does Planned Parenthood provide medically safe abortions, but it also provides STI tests, birth control, cancer screenings, and other preventative care resources.
Attacking organizations like this drastically hurts those who do not already have proper healthcare access- people of color and people from low-income communities. Taking away these services from women basically says that women are indispensable and do not need adequate healthcare.
But the issue is still bigger than this. People hear the word “abortion”, and suddenly a collection of cells is thought of as human life, and the woman thinking about an abortion is thought of as pure evil. I urge those same people to think about this.
Pregnancy is essentially organ donation; they are both forms of bodily life-support. A woman expends her energy and body to create and sustain a human being. The difference is, if someone, for example, had renal disease and needed a kidney, you wouldn’t force someone else to donate a kidney.
Likewise, the woman should be able to choose, to expend the effort in making the child and if she is not ready for that, then she should not have to deal with it.
And for anyone thinking that this sentiment is “heartless”, if you want that woman to keep her child so badly, you need to make sure she gets proper healthcare access and money to raise a child. After all, she too is a human being and deserves the same respect and adoration her collection of cells receives.
What Women Deserve
It’s clear in the last four years that a large portion of the country doesn’t believe in a woman’s autonomy. Almost 42% of the population thinks the country has done more than enough for women’s rights. Sometimes it feels like they are trying to live out an archaic version of the glory days.
The reality is that it is the year 2020, and it is about time that women are given what we deserve, and in all honesty, “what we deserve” is nothing more than what men are given by default.
So I urge you to repeat after me:
Women deserve to have an opinion and a choice about what to do with their own bodies.
Women deserve to not live in fear that their rights will be taken away by misogynistic people maintaining political power.
Women deserve to be treated with respect.