I started writing this blog about one year ago, and I’ve generally avoided EXTREMELY controversial topics, such as LGBTQ rights, abortion rights, etc. However, given the most recent case in Nebraska, I cannot stay silent any longer. Over the past couple of years, numerous Republican-led states have passed parental consent laws, TRAP (Targeted Regulations of Abortion Providers), etc. all aimed at curbing women’s access to legal abortions. I will highlight some of my “favorite” aspects of the GOP’s war on women: the GOP threatened to de-fund Planned Parenthood not long ago although federal funds cannot be used to pay for abortions; Rick Perry (governor of Texas) defunded any women’s clinic that offers abortion services in the state with the highest number of unissued Americans and the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country; VA abortion legislations requires an intra-vaginal ultrasound prior to the abortion procedure. This is a war on women led by and largely decided by men. It affects all women but disproportionately affects poor, minority women who tend to rely more on the government (federal and state) to provide services.
In the most recent case in Nebraska, the supreme court denied a 16 year ward of the state access to an abortion because her parents could not give their consent, and the state would not give her consent either. (Nebraska law requires minors to have WRITTEN permission from parents.) According to the judge, she was “not sufficiently mature enough” to decide to have abortion. Meaning of course if she gives birth that she IS sufficiently mature enough to raise a child. How can a 16 year old not be mature enough to terminate a pregnancy but be mature enough to raise that child?
However, I would like to argue a different point in this post. While the GOP attacks a women’s right to abortion, it simultaneously wants to defund “entitlement and welfare” programs. The House of Representative voted to cut funding for food stamps or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); it also wants to defund “Obamacare,” which extends Medicaid to millions of Americans living at or below the poverty line; and already cut Headstart programs across the country, which provide low-income children access to preschool. Abortion opponents (so-called “Pro-Life”) argue that abortion murders babies. I will not debate the points of a viable fetus, fetal-pain and heartbeat. Instead, I want to highlight the fact a large majority of abortion opponents also supported the cuts to the SNAP program, defunding “Obamacare,” support the death penalty, etc. Abortion opponents argue to a “right to life.” However, this is too often a “right to life” in the uterus and not a right to life outside it. That child does not have a right to education, healthcare, or food.
To me, a “right to life” encompasses all of these things. “Right to life” means access to healthcare, education, and the ability to control one’s own body regardless of race or poverty level. I am pro-life, but I am also pro-choice. Every child born deserves the chance to live a healthy, well-educated life. I also believe that women and men have the capacity to make well-informed choices for themselves. I also believe that God calls us to fight for a “right to life” that encompasses more than just a life inside the uterus. I do not think that God will give abortion opponents a “gold star” for eliminating access to abortion in the US if you simultaneously take away poor women’s access to basic women’s health services, and deny the poor the few benefits that the government provides to them to enable basic survival. In fact, I believe that God would say “whoop te freaking do, great job at doing the opposite of what I asked.”
Two final thoughts:
- Comprehensive sex education and increased access to hormonal birth control for young women would greatly reduce the need for abortions. CSE empowers teenagers to make informed decisions for themselves.
- If the GOP would stop focusing on denying women abortions and trying to control my body, maybe it could instead solve some of the much bigger problems our country has. The shutdown for example? Or a balanced budget? Comprehensive immigration reform? Tax reform? Education? Public transportation projects? Reduction in greenhouse gases? In fact, I’ll make the GOP in Congress a deal: finish my list in a way that doesn’t ruin the country, and you can have my uterus.