Days before the Republican National Convention a sitting Congressman running for the U S Senate, Todd Akin (Rep), made headlines across the nation because of a statement he made during an interview.
”It seems to me first of all from what I understand from doctors that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
That statement from Mr. Akin brought to the forefront of the national conscious the question, what are we doing when it comes to a woman’s reproductive choice?
I’ve heard those on the right side of the political spectrum jump up and decry what they consider extreme legislation regarding a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. For the past week, I’ve jumped up and decried personhood bills, and abortion restrictions. I see the difference as this:
A law that could eventually overturn the Supreme Court decision of Roe v Wade infringes on my rights. It gives government the ability to dictate to me what I can and cannot do with my body. It eradicates my right to privacy and makes my uterus a public entity open for debate.
A law that could eventually overturn the Supreme Court decision of Roe v Wade, will not affect me personally. I am almost 40, I’ve had a tubal ligation and I will not have additional children. I am not in danger of having my right to privacy taken away. What I am not willing to watch though is a return to a time, before I was born, when women who did not want to continue with an unwanted pregnancy were forced to risk their fertility, their health and in some cases their life.
I will not argue with you if you say: life begins at conception. That is your belief and you have the right to it, without qualification. Your belief does not extend to my body, or what I choose to do with my body. When you have the opportunity as a woman to carry what you think is life, by all means carry on! What you do not have the right to do is force your beliefs onto me, or force me to embrace your beliefs.
That is the difference in a bill that secures and expands the right to legal abortion in the United States, and a bill that limits and restricts the right to a legal abortion in the United States. One might find it offensive, but that offense does not prevent you from operating your life in a manner consistent with your beliefs. Pray for me if you must, but leave my own choices.
A woman’s ability to have reproductive control and reproductive choice in her life extends beyond her physical right to privacy.
A woman able to plan her own pregnancy is a woman that can complete college, gain career experience; make choices in her life that are not just based on her household.
A woman able to plan her own pregnancy can contribute to the society and the economy.
A woman able to plan her own pregnancy is less likely to be impoverished.
A woman able to plan her own pregnancy can operate from a proactive position in life, rather than a reactive position in her life.
A woman able to plan her own pregnancy can contribute to society in a different fashion than a woman forced to carry an unwanted pregnancy.
Personhood amendments are submitted in such a fashion that supporters hope that no one will disagree with, nor ask questions. After all! who could be against preserving life!
I reject that notion, that line of thought, that a fertilized egg is entitled to the same rights and privileges as a woman capable of carrying that fertilized egg.
Simply put, regardless of your system of beliefs, you must admit that there is a significant period of time during gestation that the zygote, embryo, fetus cannot exist outside of the host body.
Modern science cannot remove a 6 week old developing fetus from a woman and bring that fetus to maturity. You may think that it is life, and I will not argue, I will simply say that if it is life, it is life that cannot survive independently. If it cannot survive independently, no woman should be forced against her will to carry it. If we would not force a man to carry a tape worm why would we force a woman to carry a fetus?
Mr. Akin’s comments bring to mind many other things besides a concerted effort to undermine a woman’s right to choose.
It reminds us that rape is not a crime that is believed when reported; it reminds us that rape is assumed a lie when it is reported. It reminds us that excuses will be made to justify a position that might not be justifiable. It reminds us that our society expects that women deserve the treatment they get rather than learning how to treat women better. Mr. Akin has given us much to think about. One thing should be clear though: