Abortion has been a controversial topic that has been used to regulate the bodies of women for generations. The topic of abortion has been deemed taboo in many senses so they’re often very few educational conservations about it outside the law-making aspect. Abortion is the medical or surgical termination of a pregnancy, one of the oldest, most common, and most controversial medical procedures. In the years since abortion became legal in the United States, thanks to the 1973 Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade, there has been vigorous debate regarding the impact of abortion on a woman and others as well. While this Supreme Court case stands for the protection of the lives of women and mothers-to-be everywhere, certain states try to snatch the rights already awarded. Specifically, the state of Missouri and Governor Mike Parson and his signing of what’s deemed as “the most restrictive abortion bill in the nation”. This signing opened the intellectual conversation of the importance of women’s rights and why harmful bills like this one pose a real threat to women in the U.S.
Mothers and mothers-to-be everywhere know and understand the privilege and responsibility to raise a child but that doesn’t mean every woman should be subjected to motherhood. Abortion most directly affects women since they carry the babies to term and they’d be the ones to have an abortion. The signing of the recent Missouri abortion bill has wreaked havoc on the status of women’s rights. The article entitled, “Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signs one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation” elaborates on the signing of this bill and the specifics of it. The article states, “Missouri Gov. Mike Parson on Friday signed a bill that bans abortions on or beyond the eighth week of pregnancy without exceptions for cases of rape or incest, making it among the most restrictive abortion policies in the nation” (Press 1). Many pro-life women and men, such as Gov. Mike Parsons, actually, completely disregards the safety and health of the mother to tend after a fetus as stated in the quote. The argument is often one-sided and black and white although this topic cannot be discussed in that manner. Imagine having to keep the baby of your oppressor and someone that absolutely took advantage of you. Several factors go into a woman’s decision to have an abortion. And the fact that even rape and incest aren’t deemed as good enough reasons for abortion is disgusting. Some of these factors may include health and socio-economic reasons and others may be lifestyle and career reasons or just not wanting to be a mother. All of these reasons are valid because it’s the woman’s right to choose what she wants to do with her body. A specific lifestyle that a woman may want to avoid for her own personal reason is the lifestyle of a housewife as explained by Angela Davis. Her piece states, “Just as a woman’s maternal duties are always taken for granted, her never-ending toil as a housewife rarely occasions expressions of appreciation within her family. Housework, after all, is virtually invisible: “No one notices until it isn’t done….” (Davis 1). This example of the housewife lifestyle may be one a woman may try to strategically avoid. Maternal and housewife duties are tedious and thankless jobs that aren’t for everyone. The right to choose between this lifestyle that may make an individual particularly depressed and happy and fulfilling life may be an abortion. And every woman has the right to choose. Fortunately, several individuals disagree with pro-lifers and advocate for women and their right to choose. . The article “Pro-Life and Pro-Choice: What Does It Mean?” also states, “Generally, people who identify as pro-choice believe that everyone has the basic human right to decide when and whether to have children. When you say you’re pro-choice you’re telling people that you believe it’s OK for them to have the ability to choose abortion as an option for an unplanned pregnancy — even if you wouldn’t choose abortion for yourself” (Piper 1). The simplicity that lies within being pro-choice is its very foundation is respecting everyone’s right to choose. Being pro-choice in no way means you support abortion, it simply means you respect the woman’s right to choose what she does with her body even if you wouldn’t do it yourself. Most pro-choice women are on the liberal side, but again it’s spread out across all political opinions since the definition boils down to respecting women’s rights.
The state governments in the United States are also a significant factor in abortion when it boils down to women’s rights and harmful measures that are put in place. In certain states, the only thing protecting women’s rights to abortion is Roe v. Wade. A lot of states, usually conservative ones, place a huge role in the banning of abortions and the implementation of restrictive measures. You could conclude that these states that do so have men in charge or women that don’t fight for their rights, making it difficult for women that have the bravery to go through with something like an abortion. An article entitled, “Where is abortion legal? Everywhere. But …” elaborates on the states that specifically make it difficult for women to get abortions. According to this article, “Seventeen states ban abortion at viability, meaning that the pregnancy has reached the point that the fetus could survive after delivery (Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware*, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Maryland*, Michigan*, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana*, Tennessee*, Utah*, Washington and Wyoming). Of those states, six* make exceptions for either life endangerment/threat to the woman's health, rape/incest or fetal abnormality” (Godlasky, Ellis, and Sergent 1). This quote shows where pro-lifers are running point in the law-making about abortion. Arizona, California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maine, Minnesota, Missouri, Washington, and Wyoming have shown their take on abortion with their lack of regard to serious factors impacting a woman’s right to abortion such as life endangerment/threat to the woman's health, rape/incest or fetal abnormality. And this is the case for many states, if there isn’t an outright ban they make it significantly difficult for women to get an abortion. The article states, “On May 24, Missouri Gov. Mike Parson signed an eight-week abortion ban” (Godlasky, Ellis, and Sergent 1). This means women in Missouri are unable to get an abortion after 8 weeks of pregnancy, for perspective, a “baby” that’s eight weeks old is the size of a single raspberry. The article also states, “In addition to gestational limits, some states have adopted many other measures affecting abortion, including requiring counseling, requiring a waiting period (after counseling), requiring parental approval if the patient is a minor and allowing doctors to refuse” (Godlasky, Ellis, and Sergent 1). But while these states, try to take away the rights of women other states have a different perspective that’s more pro-choice. According to an article entitled, “What anti-choice measures are in place in your state?” only 8 states have protected access to abortion. The featured chart in the article lists, “ Maine, New York, Alaska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Nevada, Illinois and Maryland” (NARAL 1) as these protected states. Only 8 out of all 50 states of the United States openly represent pro-choice and the respect of the woman’s body.
Taking a step back to examine the facts presented is what makes or breaks this intellectual conversation and a few questions rise to the surface. Why are women’s rights consistently on the line after decades of fighting tooth and nail for them? Why are men often in the forefront making decisions about women as if they understand and comprehend the true depth of it? And finally, why do some women actually back these misguided ideas that men present? The answer is simple, the white patriarchy. And unfortunately, women have been the biggest victims of the white patriarchy and one could even go as far as to say in “the sunken place” when you try to rationalize conservative women. It’s the efforts of white men, think Gov. Mike Parson, that try and most of the time succeed at repressing the rights of women and minorities. As the famous Gloria Steinem, a prominent figure on gender equality, states, “Opposing women’s right to control our own bodies is always the first step in every authoritarian regime” (Tisdale 1). The patriarchy has been that authoritative regime that has reigned supreme for far too long. We need more decent men that try to understand the depths of women's rights and why they’re in a place as well as women who would fight for anyone whether they agree with them or not on the frontline. Not individuals who serve to uphold the patriarchy and the destruction and injustice it stands for at any cost. The threat that the white patriarchy poses is the banning and implementation of restrictive measures as we’ve seen in the news over the last few years. Usually, they don’t stick, as the Missouri ban did, but imagine they do? The article “Where is abortion legal? Everywhere. But …” states, “Six states passed six-week abortion bans (Georgia, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi, and North Dakota) but none is yet in effect. All but the measures in Iowa and North Dakota were passed in 2019. Theirs have since been struck down” (Godlasky, Ellis, and Sergent 1). Six other states tried to pass even earlier bans. At six weeks the baby is the size of a grain of rice. A single grain of rice. That should not be the reason a woman has to give up her career, birth her abuser’s baby, or financially struggling for years. That’s the threat that the patriarchy and their harmful bills pose to women in the U.S.
In conclusion, the signing of bills such as this Missouri bill opens the intellectual conversation of the importance of women’s rights and why harmful bills like this one pose a real threat to women in the U.S. There are several differing and similar perspectives of abortion across men, women, government. And pro-life and pro-choice black and white aspect don’t work for the simple fact that life is messy and complicated and as are human beings. As Rebecca Solnit states, “The battle for women to be treated like human beings with rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of involvement in cultural and political arenas continues, and it is sometimes a pretty grim battle” (Solnit 1). But women everywhere should have the freedom and most importantly, the Constitutional right, to have an abortion if they so choose. Men can’t be the deciding factor, although they can help fight for rights, and neither can the government although they help regulate the laws. Women, and women alone, are the ones most largely affected by motherhood and pregnancy so they have the final say despite patriarchal efforts.
“Missouri Gov. Mike Parson Signs One of the Most Restrictive Abortion Bills in the Nation.” USA TODAY, https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2019/05/24/missouri-gov-mike-parson-signs-restrictive-abortion-bill/1224443001/. Accessed 20 Dec. 2020.
“State Governments.” NARAL Pro-Choice America, https://www.prochoiceamerica.org/laws-policy/state-government/. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.
Women, Race and Class by Angela Davis
Solnit, Rebecca. “Men Explain Things to Me.” Guernica, 20 Aug. 2012, https://www.guernicamag.com/rebecca-solnit-men-explain-things-to-me/.
Where Is Abortion Legal? Everywhere. But ... https://www.usatoday.com/in-depth/news/nation/2019/05/15/abortion-law-map-interactive-roe-v-wade-heartbeat-bills-pro-life-pro-choice-alabama-ohio-georgia/3678225002/. Accessed 4 Dec. 2020.
“Pro-Life and Pro-Choice: What Does It Mean?” Focus on the Family, 20 Oct. 2020, https://www.focusonthefamily.com/pro-life/pro-life-pro-choice/.
Tisdale, Stacey. Gloria Steinem on Patriarchy, Abortion and Economic Independence. https://www.aljazeera.com/economy/2019/7/12/gloria-steinem-on-patriarchy-abortion-and-economic-independence. Accessed 20 Dec. 2020.