5 min read
by Emma Glassman-Hughes | December 08, 2016
Welcome to O-hi-OH NO THEY DIDN’T! I'm your host, Disappointed and Afraid; thank you for joining us this evening. Let’s get right down to it: Ohio legislature passed a bill today that would ban abortions after 6 weeks (upon the detection of a heartbeat), which is earlier than many women even know they’re pregnant. The bill does not make any exceptions for cases of rape or incest, and only provides a little wiggle room when pregnancy puts the woman’s life in danger. As we speak, the bill is sitting on the desk of Governor Kasich (one of the most anti-choice lawmakers to ever serve, in the history of this country) waiting to be signed, effectively signing away with it every Ohio woman’s federally upheld right to access abortion.
Ohio lawmakers who had previously vetoed this bill two times due to its blatant unconstitutionality have said they’ve been emboldened by the election of Tr*mp, who has promised to criminalize abortion, because they feel more confident that with his appointments to the Supreme Court, the constitutionality of outright abortion bans will change. This is a run don’t walk situation, people. We are experiencing a crisis of women’s health and common sense.
Stories about access to reproductive health care can sometimes get tricky and confusing (which is intentional, because anti-choice lawmakers can get away with some #crazy #ish when they confuse the heck outta their constituents) but in this whacky time where it feels like everyone around us is ignoring fact and science, I wanted to draw some attention to certain inalienable truths about the situation of reproductive care in the United States:
The decision of whether or not women should be able to get abortions in this country has already been made, and the verdict was on the side of choice. Roe v. Wade was justified by a constitutional amendment that guarantees all Americans the right to privacy. It was passed in the 70s and guarantees the right of women to seek an abortion on the grounds that women’s health is a state responsibility, and that the right to an abortion is a basic and fundamental civil liberty as well as human right. Which brings me to my next point!
Access to abortion is a basic and fundamental human right! It just is! That’s not really up for debate, no matter how strong a person’s religious convictions against abortion may be. In this country, people are allowed to express their disapproval of certain acts based on their religious views, and that is totally fair. People are totally allowed to not like abortion, and to hold the opinion that it is sinful or immoral. But that is simply opinion. Opinion cannot and should not make laws with real scientific and material consequences, that strip away fundamental rights of an entire group of people. Religious beliefs are supposed to be kept separate from law in this country--you may be familiar with a little thing called the separation of church and state--and someone’s religious convictions should not be held in higher legal regard than the law of the land (although it appears that this is rapidly becoming the case).
If a person really cares about sin and immorality and the protection of life, banning abortion is the exact wrong crusade to wage. Though we know it colloquially as something rather modern that you can get from your local Planned Parenthood, abortion (and also pregnancy termination and in some cases infanticide) is actually an evolutionary response within women and other mammals who know that they are not in the right environment to successfully raise offspring. Abortion is an ancient practice, the modernization of which has really only just begun. In other words, as long as women and men are still in the business of making lil’ humans, it doesn’t matter how stringently we outlaw the practice of abortion performed by medical professionals; abortions in the United States will always happen because they are a natural response to one’s inability to care for one’s own child. The phrase “banning abortion” is actually misleading--legislation and legislators like this are never going to ban abortion. They are going to ban safe abortion performed by medical professionals who can offer care and support for women struggling with what can be an incredibly complicated decision. Abortion is inevitable, in spite of any personal opinions or religious beliefs.
That any old man can sit up in the state legislatures across this country and decide that I, as a sexually active woman, need to be taught a lesson in “personal responsibility” by being forced to carry an unwanted and uncared for child to term is violent misogyny, y’all. What exactly is your lesson for me, again? Is it that I should never have sex with a person who has a penis, unless my end goal is named Emma Jr.? (Wait who are we kidding?? In that society, the baby wouldn’t be allowed to be named after its mom!) And I know that you probably don’t want me having sex with people who don’t have penises, so is your lesson to just quit having sex altogether?
Or maybe it’s a lesson in calendar reading? Because I thought it said 2016, but now it’s looking more and more like 1900.
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by Emma Glassman-Hughes