June 20, 2013

Back Off Our Lady Bits

If Republicans were honest, they would admit this legislation has nothing to do with what's best for women.

The Republican-led Assembly and Senate recently passed a litany of anti-choice legislation. From sex-selective abortions to insurance coverage to the hot button mandatory ultrasounds, their legislation claims to be in the best interest of mothers. They’re doing it for women they shout.

What seems odd to me is that they seem to only care about women who are making the very personal decision to end a pregnancy. The Republicans and their allies have completely ignored pregnant women in their policies passed under the guise of helping women. It seems they believe women can handle their own health as long as they are choosing to carry a pregnancy to term.

If we are forcing women seeking abortion services to have an ultrasound, why not also force pregnant women? Currently there is no mandate that pregnant women receive prenatal health care. Prenatal care is expensive and often not accessible. Shouldn’t a pregnant woman know exactly what she’s getting into if she’s choosing to have a baby? Shouldn’t a pregnant woman receive the prenatal care that she wants and needs in order to have a happy, healthy, wanted baby?

This legislation only allows for exceptions from the forced ultrasound in cases of reported rape or incest. Forcing rape victims to have their bodily autonomy snatched away again is cruel. By only allowing for exceptions if the rape is reported, we enforce rape culture and humiliate rape survivors.

The forced ultrasound legislation also would require abortion clinics to have hospital admitting privileges because, as anti-choice proponents say, something could go wrong. But a pregnant woman can give birth with the help of a midwife who has no such admitting privileges. Considering birth is far more dangerous and complicated than an abortion, why are we only mandating admitting privileges for professional doctors who provide abortion services?

Banning sex selective abortion does nothing for women. The bill passed in Wisconsin allows individuals who are not the women or her doctor to snoop into her private medical records. This bill erodes at her right to privacy.

Allowing companies to opt out of providing contraception and abortion services creates larger cost disparities in healthcare for men and women and denies women insurance coverage for necessary medical treatments. In Wisconsin’s case, state and local governments and agencies that use Wisconsin’s Group Health Program for insurance coverage are also banned from covering abortion services and contraceptives, exacerbating this disparity. Chipping away at women’s ability to control their fertility is class warfare and an attack on public employees.

We seem to be losing sight on the truth of this issue. Abortion is a legal right. Like it or not, a woman has the right to have an abortion, for whatever reason she decides is right for her. Creating hoops in hopes that it keeps women from getting an abortion only bars a woman from obtaining a safe abortion.

If Republicans were honest, they would admit this has nothing to do with what’s best for women. It has everything to do with controlling women.

If Republicans in Wisconsin had listened to fellow legislators’ stories of rape, difficult wanted pregnancies, or just general desire for autonomy, they would have seen the nuance of this issue. But they didn’t listen. They had decided they knew what was best and there was no room for debate.

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