In the past three months the United States has seen multiple restrictive anti-abortion bills enacted by as Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Ohio. None of the bills have yet to take effect and many are hoping that they’ll be blocked while moving through the courts. Aside from the bills that have passed, like the House Bill 258 in Ohio, we’re seeing new legislation and proposed bills popping up all over the country.
Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Georgia have all passed similar bills surrounding the “heartbeat law”.This means it will be illegal for a woman to receive an abortion once a fetal heartbeat can be detected. For many, this can occur as early as six weeks into a pregnancy [4 weeks after a missed period]. Most women don’t even know they’re pregnant before six weeks. Alabama notoriously enacted the most restrictive abortion law within in the United States, the Alabama House Bill 314. This bill completely bans abortion in most cases, not even providing an exception to cases of rape or incest and will sentence doctors who perform abortions with up to a life sentence in prison [read more here].
Women, like all humans, deserve the fundamental right to their bodies. Restricting access to abortion takes away this right. It is not the right of governing officials to decide what a woman can and cannot do with her body, it is a decision that only she can make for herself. It is also important to note that the majority of individuals signing these bills are cisgender men. Why are we expected to believe that a man has any idea of what is best for a woman’s body? This is a recurring issue seen within our patriarchal system. Men of power believe they have the right to control a woman’s body, and by extension, this will bring the control over their political freedoms and personhood. This explains why there are bills, such as the one in Alabama, making it a felony to get an abortion. Felons can’t vote.
However, this is not only an issue of sex, but an issue of race. Alongside many of the white men signing these bills has been the support of white women. According to The National Women’s Health Network, the health care of women of color and low-income women is already lacking in the United States and these abortion bans are going to make it much worse. Those who have the privilege and the money will easily figure out another way to acquire an abortion and birth control if needed, but women of color and low-income women do not have this privilege. Instead, this will lead to the less privileged women attempting to end their own pregnancies in unsafe ways, which can result in horrible injuries and many deaths. Abortions were around before Roe v. Wade, and will continue to be around even if it’s overturned. And much like we did during Roe v. Wade, we are only asking to keep access to safe and legal abortions. The personal is political, we recognized it then and we will continue to recognize it now.
The bills enacted under the Heartbeat Law and in Alabama alike are unconstitutional. They infringe upon the decision set in place by the Supreme Court in the 1973 ruling in Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to an abortion. The current peak in pro-life bills is anything but coincidental. Many right winged, pro-life individuals are hoping to take the abortion bills to the Supreme Court as the current members are predicted to be more in favor of their laws than the those who preceded them. The ultimate goal is to overturn Roe v. Wade and take away a women’s decision to get an abortion. [Read More Here]
It is time for this country’s citizens to come together against the face of oppression. It is not a debate of who is allowed to get an abortion, what circumstances allow for an abortion, or who can afford one; it is a debate of whether or not we should give women the right to their own bodies. For me, the answer is simple: women will have the fundamental and constitutional right to their bodies just like anyone else. Women will decide when an abortion is right for them, regardless of circumstances. Women will decide if and when they want to become mothers. It is her body and her choice as an individual.
It can take months and even years for the Supreme Court to decide to hear a case. It is also unlikely for the Supreme Court to take on such a large case during the presidential election year. However, that doesn’t mean we are in the clear. There is a long road ahead for the Roe v. Wade ruling and it is crucial for individuals to do what they can to prevent it from being overturned. We will not stand by as people strive to take away everything women have worked for in this country. Now is the time to call your representatives, donate, and most importantly, vote in your next election.