Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Who Will Own Your Body?

Is there any woman out there who really wants her body to become property of the state? For women, that is the most critical question of the approaching election. If you want to control your body, the choice is a no-brainer. Voting for a candidate who opposes reproductive choice is a vote to hand over your body to the state as if it were a piece of real estate instead of the unique bundle of pulsating cells, strands of DNA, thoughts, feelings, and desires that make up you.

Think about it. Really think. The antiabortion position deprives women of their most intimate right – control of their own reproductive biology. If men got pregnant, abortion wouldn’t be an issue. How many politicians would be discussing how to deprive men of controlling their reproduction? Can you imagine a Congressional hearing about male sexuality, condoms or Viagra? ”If men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament,” said an anonymous New York female taxi driver, quoted years ago by author Gloria Steinem.

Anti-choice rhetoric about “murder” is a smokescreen for a far more devious goal -- control of women – a medieval position in line with that of the Taliban and other fundamentalist groups headed by men.

Not surprisingly, most of the antiabortion groups in the United States are headed by men: James Dobson, Douglas Johnson, Pat Robertson, Randall Terry, Richard Viguerie, and Jack Willke, just to name a few. Like male insects that seal female insects’ sperm storage chambers with a kind of genital glue, men who oppose abortion make up a sperm protection society that seeks to force pregnancy and birth on a woman whether she wants it or not. Some years ago, I wrote about the similarity between male insects and men who oppose abortion in my book, Sexual Strategies: How Females Choose Their Mates. In that book, originally published in 1992 and recently reprinted in a new edition by, I wrote: “The so-called right-to-life movement may be perceived as a highly organized effort to legislate away women’s right to choose whether to reproduce.”

Although we are living in the 21st century, those who oppose reproductive choice – and yes, birth control, too – are trying to foist medieval notions on women and men. At various times in history, dispensing birth-control information has been considered subversion or an act of the devil. During the later Middle Ages, midwives were often persecuted as witches for assisting women with birth control and abortion. Sadly this persecutorial attitude rears its ugly head in the self-righteous political posturing of politicians like Presidential candidate John McCain and a number of local candidates running for Congressional seats in various states. While trying to woo Christian fundamentalists, these candidates are taking a vicious anti-woman position. McCain, for example, voted against requiring insurance companies to cover prescription birth control. What century is this man living in? True, he’s 71 years old, but there are lots of men his age and older who are in step with our time. McCain’s attitude would have been more appropriate a century ago. Keep in mind that many fundamentalists are trying to equate contraception with abortion. McCain has voted anti-choice 123 out of 128 times. And he voted against allocating money to preventative health services that would have reduced unintended teen pregnancies. McCain supports overturning Roe v Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision that liberated women from enslavement to the dark ages of reproductive tyranny. McCain, like George W. Bush, would take women backwards to a world pre-contraception, a world in which men and women had no options for limiting family size. Before contraception, men and most especially women lived at the mercy of their gonads.

Throughout history, various male leaders have enacted laws to dominate and restrict women by controlling reproduction. Whether among mice or men, once a male copulates, he no longer controls his sperm; he cannot force a female to use them to fertilize her eggs. Because of this biological fact, males throughout the animal kingdom, including men, will do virtually anything to control female choice and ensure confidence of paternity. Men in the antiabortion movement seem involved in trying to ensure a kind of group confidence of paternity. Sadly, many women support these efforts that only contribute to diminishing their individual freedom and basic human rights. But in the United States of America in this year 2008, there is no need for any woman to vote away personal autonomy over her body. Women have the voting power to swing this election away from a leader mired in the past toward a leader ready to move forward into a more enlightened future.

1 comment:

Elizabeth said...

Mary, I wholeheartedly agree with your post. This issue has been a bone of contention with me for a long time. Unfortunately I live in a town where a 21 year old Christian follower of James Dobson has succeeded in having a law placed on the November ballot, deeming a fetus as a person from the time of conception, because God came to her and told her to do this....amazing. It's brainwashing at it's best.

Banning abortion is not going to solve the problem of unwanted births. Some people claim that women tend to use abortion as a means of birth control, well if that's the case then don't you think better education and easier accessibility to birth control is a good solution? If we don't educate women and make birth control easily accessible to all women, especially those woman who can't afford it, then we'll still be faced with the problem of women giving birth to babies that are unwanted and possibly resorting to murder.

What exactly do these politicians and religious leaders think is going to happen by passing a law to ban abortions? Is it going to put an end to women choosing to have casual sex without the use of birth control? Is it going to make life easier for the woman who has been brutally beaten and raped resulting in pregnancy? Will it make the choice clearer when it involves the health of a pregnant woman who may die if she carries her baby to term? Will it be called murder if she chooses to abort the child in order to save her own life? What if the choice is made to end her life, would that not be called murder?

The only thing that will happen, if we allow a bill banning abortion to be placed into law, is we will revert back to an era when abortions were performed illegally in back allies by people who had no idea what they were doing. It will result in women having abortions in dirty unsafe conditions that might end in their death. They might as well go all the way and push us back to a time when women didn't have a say in anything and were not permitted to think for themselves, back to a time where women did as they were told, where women had no control over their bodies, where they had to ask permission to do the most simple of things, a time where men were in charge and their word was law.

The weak-minded people who have been brainwashed by the politicians and religious leaders, hold rallies, they encourage others to get out in numbers with signs and protest, yet they have no answer when asked why there aren't protests and laws to protect the unwanted childen who are born every minute of every day in this country and who are being flushed down toilets, thrown in trash cans or brutilized until they die.

As I said, banning abortions isn't going to solve anything, it isn't going to stop women from having casual unprotected sex, it certainly won't decrease the numbers of unwanted births, it isn't going to stop the abuse and murders of children who are born and unwanted, the only thing banning abortion will do is cause a much bigger and serious problem.