|Abortion continues to be one of the most divisive issues in the the United States|
Abortion, made legal across the US by the landmark Supreme Court Decision, Roe v. Wade, in 1973, continues to be controversial; in many ways dividing the country at its very core.
Currently, many of the more conservative states are crafting laws to restrict (and in some cases effectively ban) abortions. Last week, lawmakers in Kansas passed a comprehensive package of anti-abortion measures including laws which state that life begins at the point of fertilization. The Kansas legislation also bans Planned Parenthood from providing sex education in schools and prohibits abortions based on sex selection.
North Dakota recently passed several laws including one which would ban abortions when a fetal heartbeat can be detected. The new rules also forbid abortions based on genetic abnormalities, and will require doctors who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Such privileges are often denied based on pressure from local anti-abortion groups.
Last year, nineteen states enacted stricter rules regulating abortions. These new laws included mandates for invasive ultrasound tests, regulatory changes which by their nature have forced abortion providers to close their offices, lengthy waiting periods, barring the use of private insurance for abortion services, state-required anti-abortion counseling, and restricting access to the morning after pill and other forms of contraception.
I am not disturbed as much about these changes as I am by who is making them.
The faces of these anti-abortion, anti-contraception measures, the leading advocates and spokespeople, are nearly always men - usually white men. While many women also hold pro-life views, they are rarely out front championing the issue. I am both confused and affronted by that.
Abortion is a complex, emotional issue. Gender aside, passion is understandable. However, it is an undeniable truth that the fetus exists, and can only exist within the body of a woman. It is the woman who goes through the physical and mental strain of pregnancy and childbirth. It is the woman, who at great sacrifice nurtures the child after birth. With respect to conception, fetal development and childbirth, the woman is indispensible. Given these facts, shouldn’t women be the best determiners of what is appropriate in matters regarding abortion and contraception? Why should men ever be at the forefront of these matters?
Men might argue that their interest in the issue is human life. Nevertheless, that very interest could never be more than equal that of women.
Perhaps male lawmakers would be wiser to take a back seat on those issues which affect the very essence of womanhood. This can be done in two ways. Firstly, when elected bodies meet at the federal or state level to take up matters related to the female reproductive system, male legislators can poll their female constituency and simply vote the will of their female constituency. Alternatively, based on conscience or ignorance, male elected officials can simply abstain from voting on these concerns.
With women at the helm, I can easily accept which ever side prevails, pro-life or pro-choice - or even something in between. The reassurance comes in knowing that such decisions were made by those most qualified to do so.