Feminist efforts have led to some of our most profound cultural changes in this country, such as voting rights, increase in wages, and labor laws that affect quality of life for all workers. So why do vestiges of the historical bondage of women still hang on today? Maybe it’s because of these changes and successes! What if restrictions on abortion have less to do with rights of the unborn child than with the threat to the social order by allowing women the freedom to choose their reproductive lives? The primary focus of this message is the relationship between the feminist movement and the current battle over reproductive freedom.
I’m not aware of any legislative body, federal or state, conducting studies to determine the economic, social, mental, or physical impact of these restrictive laws on women. Why? Why would governments propose such coercive restrictions on their citizens without first doing such an analysis? Especially with known negative affects including loss of life, health, and liberty. I know what you’re thinking—”How naive can this woman be?” But our society works this way to strengthen a patriarchal structure and to weaken those most affected by such coercion.
Every woman’s choice
I acknowledge that beliefs about when life begins can vary. I support and would fight for any women’s right to decide to have a child and not to have an abortion. We shouldn’t impose that choice on anyone. No one should have the right to impose such a personal decision on another woman.
The Irish author Sally Rooney expresses so eloquently why such life changing decisions should remain with the person most affected. I leave you with her powerful words:
“Pregnancy, entered into willingly, is an act of generosity, a commitment to share the resources of life with another incipient being. Such generosity is in no other circumstances required by law. No matter how much you need a kidney donation, the law will not force another person to give you one. Consent, in the form of a donor card, is required even to remove organs from a dead body. If the fetus is a person, it is a person with a vastly expanded set of legal rights, rights available to no other class of citizen: the fetus may make free, non-consensual use of another living person’s uterus and blood supply, and cause permanent, unwanted changes to another person’s body. In the relationship between fetus and woman, the woman is granted fewer rights than a corpse.”
Speak UP, Speak Out so that women can remain free! If you’re interested in the fight for reproductive freedom, join the Reproductive Justice group at All Souls! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nancy Coryell and Barbara Bannon are Co-Chairs of the Reproductive Justice Team of All Souls.
At All Souls, we are devoting a year-long series in 2019: The F Word: Perspectives on Feminism in the Year of the Woman. The intention is to talk about issues women and girls face, to hear women’s voices and ideas, to get to know each other through individual and collective experiences and storytelling, to hear from men and their roles in supporting women, and to create a space for women to support each other. The series is intended to be inclusive, honest, and intersectional. If you’d like to share your story, email email@example.com.