I participated in a protest for the first time this week. By now, you have heard the proposed vote of the Supreme Court of the United States in the leaked opinion on Roe vs. Wade. This is happening in a country that touts freedom. Well, apparently that really just means for white men.
For my sisters in the sorority of survivors of sexual assault, my heart aches with yours. The wounds from the insurmountable, enduring trauma have been ripped wide open again.
With no exception for rape or incest, the drafted opinion, if passed, would mean that children would be forced to carry out a pregnancy from the spawn of a rapist. Imagine the trauma, the risk of death, the badge of shame this carries. Imagine being an 11 year old girl who barely understands her own body going through this. Imagine this is your daughter.
Despite what some politicians have stated, rape is never ok. Women should not be expected to “just accept and enjoy it.” And coercion is not consent. And pregnancy from rape is not an “opportunity.” It’s a death sentence. The life of the victim, as she knows it, is over.
For parents of daughters, it’s our responsibility to preserve their rights to body autonomy. If we lose this right, if THEY lose this right, then what rights do women really have? I mean, really. Why bother getting an education if the government views us as property to be taken? As if our only purpose in life is to be an incubator? It’s pointless. This is what it’s come to.
Whatever your views are about when life begins, you must keep religious views out of the equation of bodily autonomy. Period. Our founding fathers did not intend our country to be a theocracy. That is why there is a separation of Church and State. The phrase “under God” wasn’t even added to the Pledge of Allegiance until the 1950’s. This is stuff that Handmaid’s Tale was made from.
I have not known a world without reproductive rights. I’ve always known that I had a way out if birth control failed, and I ended up with an unintended pregnancy. The generation of my children don’t realize exactly what’s at stake.
I went to work this week, which was a pleasant distraction from the news of the leaked brief. I expected my much younger colleagues to be up in arms about the news, but no one talked about it. But we must!
Every woman and girl should have autonomy over their bodies. Not allowing this gives all the power to men. All of it. But women aren’t solely responsible for pregnancies. We just bear the burden of carrying them, whether we want them or not. Yet nothing will happen to men in the event of an unwanted pregnancy. They get to live their lives freely. Women will be forced to accept the physical and financial consequences, even if they really can’t afford to do so.
Women who end up with complications will die. Complications like ectopic pregnancies, the death of the fetus that does not naturally miscarry, severe chromosomal anomalies which would cause severe pain and death for a fetus: all of these possible traumatic outcomes would cause harm to a woman. There are no exceptions for cases like these. Women will lose their lives because politicians who write these laws don’t understand medicine. Women’s rights are human rights.
My favorite ahthor, Barbara Kingsolver, states the obvious, but so eloquently, alongside a picture of an egg:
“This is a fertile egg. Not a chicken. That only happens after a hen gives her whole life over to brooding it. Most hens, on most days, opt to lay and move on. That’s just nature and good sense: motherhood is too important, too all consuming, to be done well unless it’s undertaken by choice, isn’t it?”Barbara Kingsolver
What can we do?
Like I said, I’ve never participated in a protest until this week. But there is too much on the line now. Our leaders must hear our discontent. Those who said we were overreacting when DT became president have been proven wrong. And I can’t believe that a man who was credibly accused of sexual assault is allowed to determine the reproductive rights of women.
This time, apathy cannot win. If this first in the big dominoes is allowed to fall, next will be same sex marriage and birth control. Don’t say it won’t happen. It’s in the brief.
Call your senators and congressmen. Call your state’s governor and representatives. Protest, if you can. And vote like your life depends on it. Be noisy. The freedom of women and girls is on the line.
There is so much more to be said. It’s time to fight. Please. For all women.
First photo courtesy of Rachel Levy.
As always, I hope you all are safe and healthy.