Why are men – and boys – making decisions about women’s bodies?

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Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

The recent episode involving the boys from a Covington, Kentucky high school and a Native American activist has ignored the reason for the boys being in D.C. in the first place.  These high school boys were there to participate in a pro-life march.[1]  Now, wait.  Let that sink in.  These high school boys were there to participate in a pro-life march.  They drove half-way across the country so they could tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies.  Who do they think they are?

Well, they are probably exactly like men across this country who are telling women that if they get pregnant, they have to carry the baby to term.  Women are being attacked on two fronts.

First, abortion rights under Roe v. Wade are being whittled away by state legislatures.  With conservative Justices Gorsuch and Kavanaugh joining the U.S. Supreme Court, state legislatures feel emboldened to pass more anti-abortion measures.  Several state legislatures are expected to ban abortions once a fetal heartbeat is detected, which can be as early as 18 days after conception.[2]  Other states have enacted bans on abortions of Down’s Syndrome babies.[3]  Another state seeks to include abortion in the state’s definition of felony homicide, which could be punishable by life in prison.[4]  Many of these laws have been challenged in court.[5]

The second area of attack is legislation that subjects mothers to jail time if they cause harm to the fetus – even accidentally.[6]  In fact, at least 38 states and the federal government have these fetal homicide laws.[7]  In those states, a mother who took a drug prescribed by her doctor or who was involved in a car accident and wasn’t wearing a seat belt can be charged with manslaughter if the fetus dies.[8]  In some states, pregnant women have lost the right to consent to surgery or receive treatment for a medical condition.[9]  If you are a woman and become pregnant in one of those states, your body is no longer your own.[10]

And who is leading these efforts?  Men.  In Kentucky, the Senate Majority Leader said that his state challenging Roe v. Wade “would be absolutely the pinnacle of my career in the legislature.”[11]  In Missouri, Florida, and South Carolina, the lawmakers introducing fetal heartbeat bills are men.[12]

Obviously, men cannot get pregnant.  Absent legal process, men also do not have to take responsibility for a baby they fathered.  Even after proving paternity in court, men can disappear and refuse to support that child.  Yet men are telling women that they have to carry these babies to term.  And in 38 jurisdictions, these women have to do so carefully – or they may serve time in jail.

Whether you support abortion or not, it is women who should be making these decisions – not men whose lives proceed uninterrupted by pregnancy and childbirth.  And certainly not high school boys who know little or nothing about women’s reproductive issues.

In short, I am not willing to listen to a grown man – let alone a high school boy — tell me how to live my life.  Are you?

 

[1] Michelle Boorstein, Kentucky bishop apologizes to Covington Catholic students, says he expects their exoneration, The Washington Post, January 25, 2019.

[2] David Crary, Battles expected in many states over abortion-related bills, Chicago Tribune, January 18, 2019; Heather Shumaker, Dear State Legislatures:  Stop Advancing Unconstitutional Abortion Bans, National Women’s Law Center, May 14, 2018; Micaiah Bilger, South Carolina Bill Would Ban Abortions After an Unborn Baby’s Heartbeat Begins, LifeNews.com, January 11, 2019.

[3] Id.

[4] Id.

[5] Id.

[6] Editorial Board, A Woman’s Rights, December 28, 2018.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] David Crary, Battles expected in many states over abortion-related bills, Chicago Tribune, January 18, 2019.

[12] Samuel King, Missouri to Consider ‘Fetal Heartbeat’ Abortion Restriction That’s Been Struck Down Elsewhere, KCUR, January 24, 2019; Micaiah Bilger, South Carolina Bill Would Ban Abortions After an Unborn Baby’s Heartbeat Begins, LifeNews.com, January 11, 2019; Danielle Garrand, Florida bill would ban abortions if fetal heartbeat detected, CBS News, January 22, 2019.

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