In every election cycle, women’s reproductive rights are brought to the forefront and discussed as a public matter. No unpleasant detail is omitted. While not much can be done to take the debate away from the public eye and make it a private, in-house discussion, there is much to be said about the problematic nature of the conversation itself.
The conversation revolves around the mother and the fetus. The 1959 Declaration of the Rights of the Child states, “The child needs appropriate legal protection before as well as after birth.” Yet according to the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the right to choice and the right to privacy are inalienable rights. Furthermore, the 1964 Freedom of Choice Act declares that it is the “policy of the United States that every woman has the fundamental right to choose to bear a child; terminate a pregnancy prior to fetal viability; or terminate a pregnancy after viability when necessary to protect her life or her health.”
The question then arises: do the rights of the fetus supersede those of the woman carrying it? That is the “abortion question.” In the 1973 case Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court gave a landmark ruling, legalizing abortion under the right to privacy. However, the decision wasn’t absolute — it allowed state regulation of abortion in the third trimester. The law stated that a woman’s right to privacy and her freedom of choice surpass the fetus’ right to life, but only in the first two trimesters.
Personally, I believe that as long as the fetus’ life is dependent on its mother, the mother should decide its future, as well as her own. Furthermore, her choice must lie before the fetus viability period. After the 24th week of pregnancy, the fetus has the capability to survive outside of the mother’s womb, thanks to advances made in modern medicine. But before this phase, the fetus’ survival is entirely contingent on the mother. The right to abort during this stretch should not be taken away.
Based on the precedent set by the law, it is bizarre to see Republicans continuing the fight against abortion. If the Supreme Court explicitly said that the fetus shouldn’t have individual rights exceeding those of its mother during vitality period, why then do conservatives insist on fighting a women’s right to privacy? The answer is as plain as day: sexism.
The bottom line is that by suggesting banning abortion, pro-life conservatives are imposing their ideas, morals and values on women. Further, the decision regarding an unborn child’s life should be made by the person responsible for that life: the mother. It is simply unfair for Congress — which is composed primarily of men — to rip that decision away from women by banning abortions, as the Republican-majority Congress wants to do.
Terminating a pregnancy is a personal and private choice that depends on multiple variables that exist in the carrier or mother’s life, the depth of which cannot be understood by an outsider. How can an outsider, who lacks complete understanding, even attempt to make decisions for the mother? By mistaking abortion for a public and political matter, pro-life conservatives are simply undermining the importance of the mother in the process. Doesn’t society owe that much respect and discretion to the concerned family? The woman is, as she should be, in full control of her body and medical decisions. By waging war against Planned Parenthood, the Republicans are putting women and society at risk.
On Dec. 5 of last year, Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted, “If men were giving birth to babies, there would not be a lot of discussion regarding the right to choose.” If this were reality, the public debate would cease. Hypothetically, pregnant men might be able to fathom the complexity of the situation.
A pregnant man’s right to choice would supersede everything. In that debate, there would be no fetus and its right to life, only the man and his right to choose. With an 80 percent majority of the seats in Congress, men would be able to bury the conversation without a problem. Which raises the question: do the pro-lifers actually even care about right to life? Or is it just a façade under which they continue the archaic and outlived practice of controlling women?