Stay the Hell Away From My Reproductive Rights!

I read an article recently, “Why McCain Should Worry Women” which brought to light that if women want to retain any power at all over their bodies, then they should not, under any circumstances, vote for John McCain.

Here’s an excerpt from the New York Times website, of Senator McCain’s exchange with a reporter in Iowa in March 2007:

Q: “What about grants for sex education in the United States? Should they include instructions about using contraceptives? Or should those grants follow George Bush’s policy, which is just to teach abstinence?”

McCain: (Long pause) “Ahhh. I think I support the president’s policy.”

Q: “So no contraception, no counselling on contraception. Just abstinence. Do you think contraceptives help stop the spread of HIV?”

McCain: (Long pause) “You’ve stumped me.”

After reading the article in its entirety, I can’t understand why everyone isn’t Pro-Choice. Shouldn’t all women, everywhere, want to keep their reproductive rights, um, theirs? Even if one happens to personally feel that abortion is wrong – what right do any of us have to judge another woman in her reproductive choices? What right do we have to impose our beliefs upon others?

This compunction to pass judgment on other people in matters which are none of our collective business is more than troubling, as is passing legislation on such matters. I’ve never had to make the choice, but it’s clear from speaking to other women that by the time they decide to chose abortion, it is a hard and painful decision to make but, oftentimes a vitally necessary one, for any number of personal, medical, or economic reasons. And frankly, whether we agree or disagree with someone else feelings of necessity to make this choice, shouldn’t matter. Because it’s none of our business. It is not our life, it is someone else’s. In fact, it could be mine. So, as an adult woman, is it too much to ask for the government to stay out of my sex life and my reproductive rights?

When Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote that “the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion,” he declared his firm opposition to certain affirmative action programs, and strongly endorsed a government role in “protecting traditional values.” At the time, he was a Supreme court nominee. (see — No Right to Abortion, Alito Argued in 1985) Now, as a Supreme Court justice, he has upheld his beliefs, restricting access to reproductive procedures and not even pretending that he and his like-minded justices are ruling with women’s health in mind:

April 30, 2007
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s regressive ruling on April 18 in the two abortion ban cases, women’s rights advocates in Congress have introduced the Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA) S. 1173/H.R. 1964. This legislation, if enacted, would override the Court’s decision in the two cases, Gonzales v. Planned Parenthood and Gonzales v. Carhart, in which the court upheld vaguely-written bans that could prohibit the most commonly used and safest abortion procedures after 12 weeks of pregnancy.

In upholding these bans, five conservative Supreme Court justices have effectively overruled a core element of Roe v. Wade that had been reinforced in many Court decisions: the requirement that legislative restrictions on abortion must contain an exception to protect the woman’s health. …..

With the two recent Bush-appointed justices—John Roberts and Samuel A. Alito, Jr.—and their anti-abortion-rights colleagues Antonio Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Anthony Kennedy, it seems only a matter of time that Roe will be overturned by the high court. States will then be allowed to re-criminalize abortion; doctors and their patients would face the threat of criminal investigation, prosecution, and even imprisonment. Doctors will not risk the consequences, and women’s reproductive health clinics will close. We all know what will take their place.
— Freedom of Choice Act would Guarantee Roe Protections in U.S. Statutes

Apart from the civil right implications here, and the violations of separation of church and state, we only need look at India and China and the very Catholic Philippines, to see that with the immigration problem, exacerbated by record unemployment, uncontrolled birth rates would be a disaster for the US.

And, thanks to Truthdig, I recently found this:

“Last November, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists outlined the ethical guidelines for doctors. Those who have moral objections to performing a legal abortion for a woman don’t have to do it, but they do have to refer her to another doctor or health care provider.

We’ll quote the ACOG: “Physicians and other health care providers have the duty to refer patients in a timely manner to other providers if they do not feel they can in conscience provide the standard reproductive services that patients request. In resource-poor areas, access to safe and legal reproductive services should be maintained.”

And so, here we have further intrusion by the threat, too, of action against the doctors who help patients needful of abortions. In essence, completely leaving women without any options other than to carry their children to term. Or perhaps attempt a back-room abortion themselves.

In addition, health centres at hundreds of colleges and universities around the country, young women are now paying sharply higher prices for prescription contraceptives because of a change in federal law, which mean increases of three and four times as much. Is the hope here that increasing the cost will prevent young women from having sex? That will hardly happen. What will happen instead is young women everywhere – trying to get an education – at needless risk for pregnancy. Do I need to spell out the socio-economic implications of this?

It is possible to be sexually responsible (meaning have a healthy sex life and being responsible about it) if one is fully and exhaustively educated about sex. But it is not possible without the proper education:

An evaluation, conducted by Mathematica Policy Research Inc. on behalf of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, examined the impact of the abstinence only until marriage programs funded under the 1996 federal welfare reform law.

There have been studies that have been done over the last few years at least that have made it quite clear that abstinence-only education is not only a waste of money, but it is a danger to young adults as well.”
— ‘Abstinence Only’ Sex Ed Ineffective

Yes, dangerous – because, by age 18, 70% of US teens will have had oral sex – dangerous, because likely due to the “just say no” nature of their “education,” many will not learn that you can get AIDS, in addition to other STD’s from oral sex (or anal sex) as well. The misinformation in this type of sex “education” is just mind-boggling, especially when one considers that many parents are quite willing to stick their heads in the sand and cry, “Not my child!” Studies also show that 45% of US teens have had sex at least once. It is up to adults to keep teens safe and healthy and in order to do this, adults must inform their children about all their choices. Otherwise, parents, teachers, legislators, religious mentors, etc., are guilty of playing Russian roulette with the lives of American youth.

When one considers John McCain’s attitude about women and sex education, a potential “Leader of the Free World,” the United States will soon be back to the Dark Ages regarding women’s rights, if he is elected president.

Finally, increasingly fewer medical students are even being taught how to perform abortions these days – in this article, entitled “Why Won’t Med Schools Teach Abortion,” the author cites that 33% of women will have an abortion during their lives – not an insignificant number – it is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening precedent to design curricula which results in a noticeable decrease of doctors who can give women the proper care that we all deserve.

Lives are at stake here. Supporting the restriction or a total federal ban on women’s reproductive rights hurts all women, as well as society as a whole. The measure of how well a country is operating is by how much control its women have over their own lives and their livelihoods.  That’s why we must work to keep these matters a personal choice. We must work together to maintain our reproductive freedoms.

So, heads up, ladies! Or someday, women in the US will be fighting far worse battles for our freedoms. (A additional reference that comes to mind here hare would be Margaret Atwood’,s A Handmaid’s Tale. Doesn’t seem much like ‘fiction’ anymore, with the way things are going.)

* For further information click on: Abortion stats for the US and more – there is a link at the top of the page which says, “State Center.” Through this, can find abortion legislation for each state when you click on its location on the map displayed.

Last 5 posts by Natasha J. Stillman