There is frequently a “pro-life” group praying on the sidewalk outside my workplace… why do they get to claim that term? Why do I have to be “anti-life” or “pro-death”? And if I call this group “anti-abortion”, that makes me sound like I’m “pro-abortion”, which I’m not…
Can you tell what I’m rambling about today?
There is a lot of news coming out of the States about new abortion legislation. These changes are meant to “protect the unborn child” or “restrict reproductive rights” (depending on which side of the argument you are on). The latest bills are being passed in Ohio, Texas and North Carolina.
I don’t know all the details (I seem to say that a lot) and the research I’ve been doing into all of the different state laws has only served to confuse me further. American friends, I need help! (Most confusing is how this is all being passed as part of budget legislation!)
Here are a few examples from Ohio to give you an idea of what is happening.
- Rape-crisis counselors will face new restrictions when telling impregnated rape victims that they can legally terminate their pregnancy.
- The budget effectively defunds Planned Parenthood clinics in the state.
- Women seeking abortions will have to have an ultrasound — even if their doctor doesn’t recommend one (this was previously optional).
- Women will also be required to pay for these medically unnecessary ultrasounds.
- Physicians will be legally required to tell any patient who wants an abortion about the fetus’s heartbeat. A doctor will have to read from a script, written by politicians with no medical knowledge. (Whether the doctor believes what’s in the script, or even wants to say those words to his or her patient, has been deemed irrelevant.)
- Clinics that provide abortion services are required to have transfer agreements with local hospitals, but this budget has banned public hospitals from establishing those agreements. (Clinics will have to arrange one with a private hospital – most of which have religious affiliations and do not allow abortions. Sly little catch-22.)
- “Pregnancy” has been redefined to say that a woman is pregnant at the time of fertilization. (Science defines pregnancy as beginning at implantation.) The effect of this policy may prevent a woman from using an IUD or the “morning after” pill.
Wow – that is some powerful budget… and sneaky too!
The thing that makes these provisions so crafty, besides the fact that they were slipped in as a last-minute budget amendment without debate, is that they are not making abortion illegal. Instead, they are altering the system such that there will no safe place to have one done.
I picture a couple of old Republicans laughing in their office, “Sure, you can have an abortion… good luck finding somewhere to have it!” Bwaa haaa haaa…
Let’s put aside the old (but true) argument of “my body my choice”, because they are obviously deaf to that one, and look instead at the three major reasons women have earned the right to govern our own bodies. (Gentlemen, my apologies in advance… but keep reading, it may be enlightening.)
Yes, we all love them but they are forever getting in the way. At times they can even hurt like hell and need to be strapped down tight for exercise. And, as any woman will tell you, a good sports bra is really hard to find!
We are also expected to dress them up. I like bras that are comfortable, provide support and don’t show through my shirt. This translates into no lace, wide straps, full cups and beige… not very sexy. This means we women have to keep a couple of fancy bras in the drawer and remember to put them on if any under the shirt action is anticipated. (This goes for the panties, too.)
2) Body maintenance
I’m not talking about going to the gym or watching what we eat, because it can be argued that men are under pressure to do the same. I’m talking about the external maintenance that has become almost mandatory for women in the 1st world.
Hair – not only must we exert control over the hair on our head, we are expected to groom our eyelashes, eyebrows, armpits, legs and pubis to the current social trends.
Skin – we should have a “healthy glow” but need to stay out of the sun so fine lines don’t appear. Expensive lotions and serums are marketed to women in their twenties to prevent aging before it happens. Make-up should be used to enhance natural beauty but a woman shouldn’t be too made-up.
Secretions – we glisten, rather than sweat. Unhealthy douches and panty liners are sold to maintain all day freshness. Oh, don’t even get me started on yeast infections!
(The top two reasons were just for fun… this is the real deal.)
Women get pregnant – the whole reason for this debate. It is because of this that we are also the ones who are subjected to intense cyclical flows of hormones and bleeding. Every 28 days or so, our bodies prepare to get pregnant and then, when it doesn’t happen, cleans house and starts again.
I have been a slave to “feminine hygiene products” one week of every month since I was 12 (and my first junior high dance was so rudely interrupted). Subtracting the 18 months for two pregnancies, that equals about 318 periods. I have been anemic for the majority of my life.
During this time, I’ve dealt with mood swings, nausea, intense cramps and the stabbing pain of ovulation. I’ve had at least one pap smear a year for 20 years. I’ve had abnormal results that have required biopsies and treatments.
I’ve had premature labour that required me to go off work and onto bed-rest and ended in painful and complicated deliveries. I’ve had post-partum depression, post-surgical sepsis and infected milk ducts.
All of this is what it means to be a woman who can get pregnant. Women are the ones dealing with this shit. Don’t you think we’ve earned the right to make our own choices?
P.S. I’ve also had the intense joy of feeling my babies roll and kick inside me and the serenity of nursing them late at night when everyone else was asleep… but that was my choice.