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The 'War on Women' and its Consequences


The recent controversies over birth control and abortion impact all of us. Read more to find out how.

The 'War on Women' and its Consequences

When your chosen lifestyle, whether permanent or temporary, is one that doesn't involve bringing children into the world, the recent controversies over birth control and abortion can seem particularly threatening. But what many politicians seem more than happy to ignore is that all Americans will be impacted by limitations imposed on reproductive freedom.

As Virginia residents wait to see whether Governor Bob McDonnell will sign House Bill 462, a bill requiring women seeking an abortion to receive an ultrasound which, due to the early stage at which most pregnancy terminations occur, will often be performed with the use of a vaginal probe, and the Personhood Bill (HB1), which assigns full personhood rights to fertilized eggs, many American women and the men who support women’s rights are understandably nervous. 

I, too, am nervous—nervous for the women who could be affected by these bills, that is. Thankfully, my husband had a vasectomy years ago, so I won’t have to worry about any of this if such medieval legislation ever slithers into my state.

Unless…

Unless, that is, I’m raped by a male with viable sperm. But I’m sure that after the shock of such an utter violation of not just my outer person, but my very insides, my organs, passed, I could just take emergency contraception and do my best to move on with my life.

Or not. According to CBS News Political Hotsheet,

The personhood bill…[would] make illegal certain types of contraceptive measures, including emergency contraception.

And, as the Huffington Post reports, “[Virginia] Delegates rejected an amendment that would have ensured contraception remains legal once the personhood bill goes into effect.”

I would obviously prefer a pill, such as Plan B, that would stop any cell-building before it even begins, but if the state were to insist on my having an abortion, I would accept that as my last resort. After all, the personhood bill doesn’t criminalize abortions:

The personhood bill, which passed by 66-32 in the Virginia state House, does not ban abortions, the legality of which are protected under the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.

And Section D of House Bill 1 reads:

Nothing in this section shall be interpreted as creating a cause of action against a woman for directly or indirectly harming her unborn child.

Granted, the language in section D is vague and says nothing about not creating a cause of action against medical professionals who perform abortions, but I really want to believe no member of elected office would knowingly manipulate or deceive the people. (I mean, yes, we should expect them to lie about certain matters of national security, such as what’s really going on at Area 51 and any plans similar to the 1960s Operation Northwoods plot to kill innocent U.S. citizens, but this?)

Yes, probably this. PersonhoodInitiative.com’s website explains the following on its “About” page:

Abortion has an Achilles heel, and that is where we must direct our attack. In Roe v. Wade, Justice Potter Stewart asked the pro-abortion attorney Sarah Weddington this question: “If it were established that an unborn fetus is a person within the protection of the Fourteenth Amendment, you would have an almost impossible case here would you not?” Mrs. Weddington replied, “I would have a very difficult case.” Justice Blachmun then concluded in the majority decision that, “If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant’s case, of course, collapses, for the fetus’ right to life would then be guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.” 

[Continued...birth control rights]

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COMMENTS:

Great article. I find this scary...the mere thought of having the reigns pulled back on women's rights. I'm well aware that many " accidental" pregnancies are not surprises as people claim, and that people were irresponsible and don't want to admit it. However, I know that surprises still occur through birth control failure and even though my husband had a vasectomy and went back to get "approved " I still feel uneasy regarding the pssibility of a " forced pregnancy."

I'm late to the party here, but I have recently been trying to bring a related topic to the fore on this issue. The religious right, I have found, is not only very antiabortion, but they are very very pro-reproduction. While I do believe they support adoption, they will rally behind the childless couple in their massive spending and emotional agony of attempting to reproduce using science when the natural way fails. In all of these many attempts, we find now that we have shelves full of possibly viable embryos. They've now started an "adopt and embryo" movement, but it is most certainly never going to keep up with the numbers of embryos created. The only word we hear is from the guy in Vatican City with the big hat, saying it's not ok to use them for science or destroy them. I'm now picturing a Robin Cook-type scenario with all of these embryos out there. Did not these "pro-lifers" play god by creating these "things" be they people or not? When I confront them with this issue, no one comments. They have pushed pushed pushed to create more babies, and this is the consequence. I'd love for more of us who are prochoice to go after them on this issue.

As a Brit that has studied US Politics & History in the UK and USA and lived in the USA for a while - I am quite disturbed that the current policies surrounding abortion are going backwards.

What are the (in my opinion) Uber Right Wing Neo-Fascist Christian Fundamendalists - who play their own Gods) Politicians thinking? "I know- if the trashy whore sees the ball of cells moving in her womb she'll feel an instant maternal bond and change her left-wing mind and keep the baby!!"

Seriously!

There seems to be a very blurred line here between the Right to Life and the right to a quality life.

Women abort for all sorts of reasons - financial burden/ non-maternal/ life-threatening to own health/ rape/ defective gene pool - whatever - they all relate to the quality of life of someone - be it the mother or the child that may or may not be....

Whatever - enforcing childbirth upon women (and their significant others) just smacks of lack of choice and freedoms which the USA Constitution is built upon.

In the UK we have free contraception, free vasectomies, free family planning clinics - and a choice of what we use and when we use it - OK - so we have the highest teen pregnancy rates in Europe - we're a packed nation with shit TV - or course the kids are going to fornicate!! But the choices are out there.

You have to watch this erosion of your freedoms. This Personhood word - it's just a made up buzzword to give an identity to nothing that COULD be something. I'm going to call my next Lottery Ticket "MYEARLYRETIREMENTHOOD"!

I do hope this whole direction of policy is railroaded by common sense, the protection of freedom - and the American Way!

It is absolutely irresponsible and foolish for anyone to have a child they don't want and/or can't afford.

And it's inhumanely manipulative to force anyone else to do so.

Jerry Steinberg
Founding Non-Father Emeritus of NO KIDDING!
The international social club for childless and childfree couples and singles

How far are they going to take the whole what is life thing before you all know it we will all be forced to be Vegans because killing any life will be illegal! I don't know about you all but I love my beef and birth control!

I think its sad that we have to debate right and wrong of the abortion itself instead of working on the causes of the teen pregnancies. I wonder if we'd be having these same discussions if abortions were reserved for situations of rape and incest and not used as an alternate method of birth control. NOT having a baby is easy. I've done it for the past 30 years. Not even a pregnancy scare. Its not like tripping down the stairs. I don't think these "accidents" are really accidents. We know now what causes pregnancy. Its sex. We need to figure out what is causing these young girls to have no regard for their bodies and their futures to decide that having unprotected sex is ok and that having a baby at 16 isn't such a bad thing. It all comes down to parenting. And here I am on my "childless person teaching the people with kids how to parent" soapbox again, but seriously folks, teach your kids about actions and consequences. About the true value of human life. That if you have a child at 16, that child is so much less likely to succeed and thrive. If you truly care about kids, wait until you are ready. And don't think a quick fix abortion will make things better. Yes, I agree that abortion should be available to anyone that wants it but it still shouldn't be used recklessly. You WILL and SHOULD feel a negative emotional toll for what you are doing. Even rape victims harbor guilt for what they have done. Now imagine if you are stopping this pregnancy because you were too forgetful to take your OC or decided that just this once you were going to give in to your boyfriends request to not wear a condom. Its almost sad that we've done so well at eradicating STDs. (sarcasm font) Kids are scared of STDs but not at all scared of being pregnant. Ok, off the soapbox now. (PS - I don't have any worries that these bills will pass - just crazy pre-election drama to take our eyes off the real issues.)

This really is a serious matter, I'm surprised at how lightly people seem to take it. This sort of right infringement is ludicrous, considering how upset the people pushing these laws get about the idea of government intruding into their lives.

I had my tubal ligation on February 16th, which is kind of hilarious to me.

Here I touch on one of the major flaws of the personhood bills (which is that they don't actually grant personhood): http://sylviadlucas.com/2012/0...

Thank you, Sarah and Emma.

I'm grateful you took time to explore this aspect of the discussion because I believe it is one that does not receive enough press/public consideration. There are shockingly few female voices in the melee and I am really glad you titled it, "the War on Women," because that's what it feels like. I'm saddened that in this day in age we are still fighting what seems to a be an uphill battle with religious conservatives (aka zealots) who seek to impose their own antiquated doctrine on every woman's body. We have to keep the conversation going, and I'm glad you posted this. I'm sharing with with others as we speak!

Update (2.22.2012): "Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) revoked his support for a GOP-sponsored bill that would require women to undergo a physically invasive transvaginal ultrasound procedure before having an abortion on Wednesday." (via Huffington Post)

I appreciate your research and stance on this issue. It's a controversial subject, but the consequences of such political games can be life changing. So it must be addressed, and the discourse should be public as it has far reaching implications in our society. Thanks for helping drive the conversation.

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