Yesterday marked the fortieth anniversary of the landmark Roe v Wade that gave women the right to make the most intimate of health care choices for themselves. The right to an abortion, on demand, up too twenty two weeks into a pregnancy. Part of what makes this such a momentous decision is that the Supreme Court, at that time, was notoriously conservative and all male.
Women had the right to property, the right to divorce, and the right to work (though not the right to equal pay, we are still fighting for that). Single women had just won the right to take the Pill. The ERA was just beginning to wend its way through the states.
Women were being told the biggest lies in history, through advertising (and they still persist today) “You’ve come a long way, Baby!” (No… we haven’t) and “You can have it all!” (No… we can’t)
And for the last forty years, we have been fighting the same fight. Can a woman make a choice for herself, to determine her own destiny> Can she choose whether or not she wants to continue a pregnancy? Is she ready, at that moment in her life, to become a mother?
Often, in the course of the argument, the opposition says things like “If a woman can’t afford to have a child, she should have used birth control!” or “She should have kept her legs closed!” Do they listen to themselves? How close to eugenics does this really sound! Should we sterilize the poor to keep them from reproducing because we don’t want to help to fund social welfare programs?
How about the argument that we don’t want “our taxpayer dollars used to pay for abortions!” This doesn’t and cannot happen, except in incredible well defined circumstances, thanks to the Hyde Amendment, instituted in 1977. According the Guttmacher Institute, the Hyde Amendment is implemented thusly:
32 states and the District of Columbia follow the federal standard and provide abortions in cases of life endangerment, rape and incest.
2 of these states also provide state funds for abortions in cases of fetal impairment.
3 of these states also provide state funds for abortions that are necessary to prevent grave, long-lasting damage to the woman’s physical health.
1 state provides abortions only in cases of life endangerment, in apparent violation of the federal standard.
17 states use state funds to provide all or most medically necessary abortions.
4 of these states provide such funds voluntarily.
13 of these states do so pursuant to a court order.
We don’t want to “pay for contraception”. Well then, stop having sex. But we, as a species, can’t do that. Humans are one of the few species that have sex, not just for procreation, but for pleasure and for bonding. We have sex because it feels good. It releases certain hormones into the body that give a sense of well-being and helps to bring us closer to one another. Sex is a good thing.
But this does not abrogate the male responsibility toward birth control. The onus of contraception should not fall solely on a woman. Comments like “If she had kept her legs closed” should be followed by “If he had kept it in his pants” and “If she had used birth control” should be followed by “If he had used a condom”.
Currently there are four states that have one clinic, state wide, that provide abortions. North Dakota, South Dakota, Arkansas and Mississippi. Doctors and staff members of clinics are intimidated and sometimes murdered to stop them from providing a legal medical procedure, and their murderers are treated as heroes in the anti-abortion movements.
It is said that 77% of all the anti-abortion movement leaders are men, and of that 77%, 100% of them will never get pregnant. How ironic.