Dark days loom ahead for women who value their reproductive rights. With religious arch-conservative pharmacists being given special privileges to deny women access to their birth control prescriptions, hospitals refusing to give or even tell a rape victim about emergency contraception, state legislatures making women practically run a humiliating shame gauntlet before obtaining a safe and legal abortion (or even contraception), and worst of all–medical science being replaced by religious superstition and ignorance. All in the name of war against women’s reproductive rights. Other countries are beginning to recognize that reproductive rights are essential to women’s civil rights period, but the United States and others are slowly, painfully, but surely returning women to the dark days of desperation, fear, and turning to the worst and lethal options in wanting to end an unintentional and unwanted pregnancy. And we still see no “shame” gauntlet being thrown at men for the role they played in all of the unintentional and unwanted pregnancy–not even rapists. Neither have we seen nor heard of any man being lectured about his “immoral” choice to have a vasectomy, or buy a box of condoms, or refill his prescription for Viagra. No, only women with our ever burdensome reproductive organs which we can easily see as a liability to our civil rights in this country (under this presidential administration), will be forced to bear the full brunt of the “darker days.”
It most also be noted and acknowledged that these misogynist anti-reproductive rights laws, policies, and rhetoric are mostly made by powerful arch-conservative men, obsessed in controlling the bodies and lives of women via our organs. Though they are calculating and manipulative, and cloak their laws, policies and rhetoric with sob stories and so-called “moral issues” of protecting the “weak” and “frail”, while turning women–the most vulnerable especially when pregnant–into inanimate objects and incubators. Inanimate objects and incubators easily discarded after being used and abused by misogynist anti-choice/anti-contraceptive politics and religious fanaticism in bed with politics. Now allow this article from Planned Parenthood to illustrate the ominous days instore for us…
Abortion Restrictions Ease Worldwide, U.S. Clamps Down
by Meera Subramanian
Despite the rise of religious fundamentalism worldwide and the Bush administration’s global gag rule, which denies U.S. funds to foreign family planning organizations that promote or advocate abortion, more and more countries around the world are making it easier for women to access safe, legal abortions. But a small number of nations, including the United States, are passing laws that further restrict a woman’s right to control her reproductive health.
These are the findings of the Center for Reproductive Rights, which recently released a briefing paper assessing the global state of legal abortions 10 years after the Beijing Platform for Action explicitly called for governments to reevaluate restrictive abortion laws that harm women. As part of an overall commitment to women’s health, the declaration acknowledged that unsafe abortions are a major public health concern. The World Health Organization estimates that 70,000 women die annually due to clandestine abortions performed under unsafe and unsanitary conditions, with millions more hospitalized.
And those deaths which could have been prevented had these women had access to a safe and legal abortion, mean nothing to the Bush Administration, the neoconservatives trying to overturn Roe v. Wade, the pharmacists who deny women their contraceptives and EC, and certainly not the religious fundamentalists who view pregnancy as a just punishment for women having sex period.
Abortion Access Eased
While most of the world moves toward recognizing abortion access as an essential women’s right and its role in women’s health, a handful of nations, including the United States, are moving in the opposite direction.
Nearly 70 countries, representing more than 60 percent of the world’s total population, currently allow abortion with few or no restrictions. Over the past 10 years, 15 countries have liberalized access, and a third of those (Albania, Cambodia, Nepal, South Africa, and Switzerland) have completely legalized abortion and eliminated any constraints. Numerous other countries, many in Africa, have also relaxed laws limiting access to abortion. France eliminated a parental consent requirement for minors, instead requiring teenagers to be accompanied by an adult of their choosing.
Funny. And we call ourselves the great purveyors of liberty, civil rights, and individual freedom. Why, we even view some of those countries such as Cambodia and Nepal to be “inferior” to us when it comes to freedom and civil rights.
Abortion Access Restricted
But while most of the world moves toward recognizing abortion access as an essential women’s right and its role in women’s health, a handful of nations, including the United States, are moving in the opposite direction. In 2003, Congress passed and President Bush signed the country’s first federal abortion ban. The law was deemed unconstitutional in three federal courts after Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the National Abortion Federation filed separate lawsuits claiming that the broadly written law prevented doctors from providing the best and safest health care to women. Enforcement is barred pending appeals.
Other countries turning their backs on the Beijing Platform and women’s health include El Salvador and Poland. In El Salvador, abortion is now illegal under any circumstance, even when necessary to protect a woman’s life and in cases of fetal impairment or pregnancy resulting from rape. Poland’s parliament and courts have been in a tug of war over abortion rights since 1993, but by the end of 1997, abortion had become a crime.
The U.S. Senate recently voted to eliminate the global gag rule, but the House is not expected to follow suit. While more countries are liberalizing abortion laws, supporting the Beijing Platform and its commitment to women’s health and well-being, for many women around the world, abortion remains illegal or inaccessible.
Planned Parenthood believes that the ability to control your own fertility is a fundamental human right. It is working to end the global crisis of unsafe abortion by helping to provide health care around the world and by urging the U.S. government to abandon the global gag rule.
Women’s civil rights, especially reproductive rights, always seem to be expendable and no where near as important as institutionalizing–though subtely–misogynist politics, intertwined with religious fundamentalism. This is the legacy we shall leave to younger generations of women if we don’t act now. This is our fight.