Thursday, 16 May 2019

How Trump’s America is taking back women's bodies

The United States of America considers itself one of the most progressive countries in the world. It's the Land of the Free with the Great American Dream. What they don't say it it's The Land of the Free Men, where any opportunity is open to anyone, just as long as you're a man.

In the country that has never yet had a woman in charge, Alabama this week passed a bill stopping women having abortions.

Whether the child is severely disabled, the result of incest or the product of rape makes no difference. Once a woman has seen the blue line on the pregnancy test she's responsible for it for the next 18 years. A doctor performing an abortion can be sentenced to 99 years in prison.

The Pro Choice argument

It should be enough to say women should have the right to abortion because no one should be forced to have a baby if they don't want to. But it's obviously not, so I'm going to spell it out anyway.

We know from history what banning abortion means, and it's not more happy smiling children in idyllic family settings. It means bringing yet more unwanted children into the world who will be at risk of physical and mental suffering, who may have to suffer the distress at being removed from the parents who didn't want them in the first place. It means children of women who have been raped growing up hating a part of themselves knowing their existence is only down to abuse. It means desperate women seeking out dangerous underground solutions to terminate their pregnancies which put themselves at risk. It means women having to give up the lives they wanted to care for children they shouldn't have had.

The anti-abortion argument

What shocks me most is that there doesn't seem to be much of a counter argument. It goes something like this: "I think that this supreme being that I believe in probably doesn't want women to terminate their pregnancies, so therefore it should be stopped." It doesn't seem to take into account all the people who don't believe in that particular supreme being, or in this assumption about their god's beliefs. Or indeed the lives and bodies of women.

Men taking over women's bodies

There were 25 people who voted to approve the new law. Six who voted against it. Of these 31 senators, four were women. Can you guess which group the women were in? Yes, they were the small minority that voted to continue allowing women in Alabama to have abortions. So only two men voted that women should be allowed to make decisions about their own bodies.

The new ruling is opening the floodgates to 16 other states which are considering cracking down on women's rights over their own bodies.

I hope that in a few years time those 25 (white) senators will be prepared to open their homes to foster some of the many children who will be born into difficult circumstances as a direct result of this legislation.

Photo by Victoria Pickering via Flickr Creative Commons
Abortion may not be for everyone, and if you don't agree with it, then don't ever have one, but pregnancy, childbirth and bringing a child into the world should be a choice, both for the women and the children involved.

When a society stops allowing women to make their own decisions about our bodies, then we are instantly made more vulnerable and less important than men, who do not have these restrictions. If men really want women to stop having abortions then maybe they should stop having sex with them.


Alabama

Today it's Alabama, but anti-abortion bills have been introduced across the US and other states could follow suit. I know I'm writing this purely for the people who already think as I do. But if I can provide just a few more words in support of those women in Alabama who are fighting for their freedom, then it's worth it.

It is absolutely essential that we, as women, insist that we are the ones qualified to make decisions about our own bodies. Men should not be doing this for us.

If ever there were an argument for women to be involved in the political process, then this is it. Because if the Alabama senate had been reflective of gender balance, with 17 female senators instead of just four, this bill would never have got through and women in Alabama would still have been able to make their own decisions about what happens to their bodies.


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