Well Done For Screwing Over Women, America.

Like millions of people all over the world, I watched and read in horror about the overturning of the Roe v. Wade ruling last week.

Horror because women’s rights have been stripped away, by a panel of mostly men. Individuals that will never experience pregnancy.

Horror, because in some particularly backward states (yes, I’m looking at you Kentucky, Louisiana, and South Dakota, which have immediately banned all abortions), it doesn’t matter if a 12-year-old girl is raped and is made pregnant. She has to have her rapist’s baby.

It doesn’t matter if a woman in an abusive relationship falls pregnant. She has to have that baby and be tied even longer to her abuser.

It doesn’t matter if contraception failed in a casual relationship. She has to have that baby. The father can walk away, not pay a penny, but she has to have that baby.

It doesn’t matter if the woman has a health condition that could kill her, leaving her other children motherless. She has to have that baby.

It doesn’t matter if the foetus has a condition that could cause it to be stillborn or die immediately after birth. The mother has to have the baby.

It doesn’t matter if the baby is going to be born into poverty, the mother has to have that baby.

Essentially, it really doesn’t matter what the reason is. She has to have that baby, whatever the consequences. If she terminates that pregnancy, she and anyone involved in the process can be jailed. Even worse, if a woman were to have a miscarriage, she could be scrutinised and, if she is deemed to be in any way at fault, she could be jailed.

I consider myself to be firmly pro-choice. Whether I would have an abortion or not, should I fall pregnant is irrelevant.

Not my uterus, not my choice.

I don’t care what the reason is for someone making the decision to have an abortion. No woman should ever be forced to give birth to a child.

What is fundamentally wrong about ‘pro-life’ supporters—the ones that are rubbing their hands in glee at this decision—is that they aren’t really pro-life at all. They are pro-forced birth. These people don’t give a shiny shit what happens to that baby once it is born, or the mother. Quite often, these are the same people who are against people receiving any financial help to raise a child, are happy to see families in sub-standard living environments, and are against free health care. They are also quite often the same people who are OK with the existing gun laws in the US. Allow someone to abort a 7-week foetus that could kill them? No. Allow someone to purchase a gun so they can walk into a school and murder 10-year-olds? Crack on.

It’s their right, innit?

Obviously, I am a very outspoken feminist, but I certainly do not discount the opinions of men, even on topics like this. I would hope that many abortions are discussed by both parents and the decision is made together. However, ultimately, only one person has the right to make the final decision as to whether to carry on a pregnancy.

The woman.

It is the woman that goes through pregnancy and birth, and I can tell you from experience that every pregnancy and every birth, no matter how wanted the baby is, no matter how straightforward it is, takes a toll on a woman’s body. In many cases, women can die or suffer life-changing injuries during childbirth. They are generally the ones who will do the majority of the child care, from birth all the way through to adulthood. They are the ones who will see their careers take a nose-dive while they balance parenthood and work. They are the ones that, if the relationship breaks down, are left, quite literally, holding the baby, often with no support, financial or otherwise, from the father.

Will pro-lifers be there to support these women?

No. They won’t.

The overturning of this rule is taking women’s rights back several decades and reducing women to little more than incubators. Of course, in an ideal world, abortion for any reason other than medical need would be unnecessary. In reality, this is only going to happen with free universal health care, a great financial support system, contraception that is guaranteed to be successful, and men not raping women, and that’s just not going to happen. The option is to force men to have vasectomies as soon as they reach the age where they can impregnate a woman, and reverse it if and when they have written permission from their sexual partner. That ain’t going to happen either is it, because they have rights over their own bodies.

Unlike women.

In the UK, we are fortunate (at the moment-who knows in the future?) to have abortion laws that allow women to terminate an unwanted or unviable pregnancy until 24 weeks, with agreement from two doctors.

We also have access to free contraception, but for many women, this is pretty problematic. Today, for example, I was reading an article about women who have an IUD coil inserted. This is done most of the time without any anaesthesia, which for many women causes a great deal of pain and discomfort. Why on earth are we making women have foreign objects inserted into their cervix without any form of anaesthetic? In the same vein, women being able to get sterilised is also nearly impossible. I asked when I was pregnant with Elizabeth if, should I need a C-section, I could have my tubes tied, and it was a flat out ‘no’. When I have asked about it since, they have asked how my husband feels about it. Why does my husband need to be consulted about what I do with my body? Funnily enough, when my husband made enquiries about a vasectomy, they didn’t ask him how I felt about it. Apparently, what I want doesn’t matter as much as what he wants, but I thank my lucky stars that should I fall pregnant, I have the option of termination, and if I kept the baby, I have free health care to keep me safe.

American women, in many places, do not have that option anymore.

Let’s face it, this law is only going to affect women—poor women without the financial means to travel to have a termination somewhere it is legal, poorer women who may not be able to afford contraception, poorer women who can’t afford antenatal and postnatal care, poorer women who may have turned to sex work to make a living and poorer women who can’t afford to look after a baby. It’s not going to stop abortion. It’s just going to stop safe abortions, and women will die because of it.

The overturning of Roe v. Wade is terrible news for everyone, but especially women—it just cements the fact that their needs and lives just don’t matter. And that’s pretty scary for us all.

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