Since women’s health issues have become a political ‘hot’ topic, I’ve often heard the question, “Why are a bunch of rich old guys trying to tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies?” More and more I’m finding this to be a valid question.
One ‘rich old guy’ (Missouri Republican representative Todd Akin) recently said, “First of all, from what I understand from doctors, [pregnancy from rape] is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.” Yeah. He actually said that. What ‘doctors’ has he been talking to?? Witch doctors? If women’s bodies had the ability to ‘shut down’ unwanted pregnancies, then we wouldn’t need abortions at all. But that’s clearly not the case. And what about the women who don’t manage to ‘shut down’ their rape pregnancies? Then is it their fault that they failed to ‘naturally’ abort their rape babies?
I’ve learned that it’s often pointless to argue why abortions are morally permissible or impermissible (ie. don’t argue against religion), but morals aside, to further restrict or even eliminate women’s access to safe abortions would do far more harm than help. Especially in the case of rape. Just imagine how you would feel if you grew up to learn that your biological father was a rapist. And that every time your mother looked at you, she couldn’t help but be reminded of that traumatic incident that resulted in your unintended conception. If a woman needs an abortion (her pregnancy threatens her health, she’s just not at a point in her life where she can or wants to support a child), she will get an abortion – illegally if need be. In middle school one of my close friends told me a horror story about how a woman had died after she tried to give herself an abortion with a wire clothes hanger. I’m sorry for putting that disturbing image in your mind, but what’s more disturbing is that things like that actually do happen.
And I don’t see any validity to the argument that legalizing abortion will promote promiscuity by turning abortion into a form of regular birth control. Abortions are medically invasive procedures that are both painful and costly. Any woman who would choose to have regular abortions instead of using any other form of contraceptive would have to be completely out of her mind. Granted, a number of unwanted pregnancies result from insufficient education about or access to contraceptives, but that’s another discussion.
I know right now politics is dominated by men, and hence the majority of policymakers are men, but this issue wouldn’t be so much of an issue if these men took the time to actually talk to women (and get their science straight). If the goal is really to protect and help the most people, then I think the right course of action is pretty obvious.
Bonus: this entertaining feminist article on male politicians’ discomfort towards the word ‘vagina.’