The main reason that I won’t be voting for Romney has to do with my gender, my sexuality, and my inability to accept that gender is a binary. I’ve already talked about how important marriage equality is to me, but today I’m going to talk about the politics of pregnancy and a woman’s right to choose. I’ll be blunt – I believe in the right for a women to have a choice in whether or not they want to carry a pregnancy to term. I believe that abortion should be a viable option.The tactics used legally to stop women from making choices of their own accord are ghastly, and most of them are based on the desire to remove Roe v. Wade from the books. I wish I were being dramatic – but I’m not.
There are women in the United States who are being charged with feticide, the crime of murdering a baby before it is born. Phrases like “depraved-heart murder” jump off the page and into the courtroom. Given the stories told by the Guardian about the issues of pregnancy in America, “indifferent to death or harm” indicates a level of distaste for the child which feels a little hard to prove here. Callous disregard for human life seems to be precisely the opposite of several of these stories – especially that of the woman whose downs syndrome baby was born premature and died of natural causes – yet still she was accused of wanting to kill her own child.
In Mississippi the right of choice has been taken away de facto, if not de jure, by way of the lack of services. There is one operating abortion clinic. In many conservative states lawsuits consistently crop up demanding that abortion clinics keep their waiting rooms a certain temperature, get their doctors operating privileges, and various other specific and challenging requirements in order to prevent abortion clinics from operating without specifically closing them down in one fell swoop. Similarly, Charges under fetal homicide laws are pressed against the pregnant women who lose their babies, rather than against people who attack pregnant woman and thus kill the fetus.
What does this have to do with the Presidential Election when all these issues are primarily ones of states rights?
For one, Mitt Romney wants to privatize insurance and do everything state by state – allowing for discrimination against women’s bodies within the text of insurance laws and health care bills. Furthermore, Romney wants to remove the Affordable Care Act, and even though he didn’t admit to it during the debate. The fact that the ACA promotes women’s health is a problem. Birth control being paid for, STD testing being paid for, breastfeeding counseling being given freely – why does all of this scare the conservatives? Especially given that a study shows that the birth control mandate actually lowers abortion rates?
The issue comes down to power dynamics. Men want control over women, and their bodies. With choice, comes power. With power, comes equality. I may not like the idea of abortion, but the ability to make the choice to be a mother is a choice about freedom. Freedom from the consequence of rape, freedom from medical emergencies, freedom from raising a child who won’t take a first breath. Having never had to make that choice, I can’t say how easy or hard it is, but I can say that I will never forget hearing a classmate tell me that of course he’d expect me to carry a baby to term if I had been raped, because it was the will of God. The question I ask of this concept, is what about my own will? Women should have the right to take their free will into their own hands, and make the choices which are right for them – that’s why Roe v. Wade was taken on by the Supreme Court, and why their decision was to legalize abortion on a federal level – so that the state didn’t have the option to tell women what to do.
This isn’t really just about abortion either. It’s about the way that women are protected. Rape cases aren’t handled properly, neither is the attitude about sexual harassment, assault, or abuse helpful. The fact of the matter is, we live in a country where it’s still OK to discount the cry for help of a mentally disabled woman in Connecticut. She said she was raped, and the state said that because she can’t scream, or move her hands, she didn’t exert enough force for it to be considered a rejection of the sexual advances of her rapist.
We cannot allow our country to abuse women. We cannot allow various states to criminalize miscarriage in order to punish women for what their bodies often do without warning. These laws were written to protect women from violence against them, yet these laws are now being used to attack the women themselves, marking their fetuses as more important members of the society than the women who carry them.
I do not trust Mitt Romney to protect me from society. I do not trust Mitt Romney to give me autonomy over my body. I do not trust him to respect my choices and beliefs.
This is why I vote. To protect myself, and the other women who need protection from the clear violations of our rights.