ACTIVISM

Why I Support Women’s Reproductive Rights and Freedom (and Why You Should be Too) 

DYK that every day there are bills and efforts around the country to undermine women’s reproductive rights?  According to the NYTimes, TennesseeNebraskaOhioSouth Carolina and Idaho all have bills to restrict abortion that will be debated early this year. One of these insane abortion ban bills is in Ohio. This bill says that a fetus can be re-implanted into a woman;  a process called “abortion reversal” which isn’t a procedure that can be medically done.

 In 2019 when the Alabama abortion ban passed, I went into a state of shock. The bill is erroneously called the “Human Life Protection Act.” It states that a doctor who performs a banned abortion in the state of Alabama would be guilty of a felony and could be sentenced to life imprisonment. (It’s worth noting that the Alabama abortion ban has been blocked by the courts and has not gone into effect at the time of this writing.)

I literally couldn’t process what was happening and I went into dark mode for a couple of months. I was trying to understand how we got here. How are women’s lives treated as something those in power can make decisions on without our say? How are our thoughts, opinions and wishes valued so little? (and I’m not going to lie, after watching the Handmaid’s Tale, there was a little of “WTAF is happening?!” ). 

fight for women's reproductive rights

I believe that women’s reproductive freedom is at the core of gender equality. This is about respecting women.

We can’t achieve or attempt to get closer to gender equality if women are being told what to do with their bodies, as if we didn’t have brains to be able to reason and make our own choices.

Photo by T. Chick McClure on Unsplash

WHY WE MUST BE FIERCE PROPONENTS OF WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS

I’m a fierce proponent of women’s reproductive rights for a number of reasons. The first is pretty obvious: I AM A WOMAN. Why would I support something that undermines my existence? My being? Why would I want to impose that on other women? 

I believe in a woman’s right to choose what happens to her body. The idea that a government body can choose whether a woman must go through a difficult, body and life altering process without say does a few things:

Restricting women’s reproductive freedom denies her humanity by taking away her agency to choose what happens to her body.

It upholds patriarchya system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. There is a reason why there are many laws that seek to limit women’s reproductive freedom but not men’s reproductive freedom. It is about power. Those in power (men) want to limit certain people’s power, and exert control over people. 

 

And, while this may be incredibly controversial, let’s get something out of the way. The Catholic Church is patriarchal. And before you go hating on me, I am Catholic. I grew up going to Catholic school, all the way until college. Yet, as I grew up and starting thinking critically about the way things work in the Church, I have struggled with some of their tenets. In the Catholic Church, women who aren’t seen as equal to men.  The Church’s stance on birth control is outdated, as is their stance on divorce. Those are two things that undermine women’s ability to exert agency in marriages. (I have many other  thoughts on the Catholic Church that will be left to another post). 

When you restrict a woman’s reproductive freedom, it reduces women to a womb, neglecting her potential for anything else other than becoming a mother. 

I refuse to live in a world where a fetus (which cannot survive outside a woman’s body before a certain time) is more precious than a fully grown, fully functioning woman who has a full life. 

Women’s Reproductive Rights

I am a fierce proponent of women’s reproductive rights and freedom because I don’t think my beliefs should infringe on anyone else’s life.

I don’t believe that my religious beliefs should dictate what another person chooses to do. If there is a God, then that person will have to answer to God. I will not be a judge on anyone. 

I am a fierce proponent of women’s reproductive rights because the decision to become a parent should not be taken lightly. Becoming a mother is the MOST MONUMENTAL thing a woman can do in her lifetime. It’s the ONE thing that you can’t turn away from. Because, even if you have a baby and you give it up for adoption, I am betting that changes you forever. 

RESTRICTING WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS HURTS US ALL. 

Restricting women’s reproductive rights hurts poor women. Let’s be real. If you have money, you’re going to get an abortion if you want one. You can travel where you need to travel to. Chances are, you won’t even need an abortion because you have access to healthcare which means you have access to birth control.

Lack of abortion access or access to reproductive healthcare affects poor women the most. One estimate says that it costs over $2,000 to travel to get an abortion. In many rural communities and many states, there are limited number of abortion providers, so women have to travel to get their procedures.

To put things in context, Alabama only has five abortion clinics, most of them in metro areas. The Guttmacher Institute reports that in 2017, some 93% of Alabama counties had no clinics that provided abortions, which means that most women have to travel to see a provider. This means lost wages if they have to take time off to travel to the procedure, they have to figure out how to get to the clinic, pay for transportation, if they already have children they have to figure out who will take care of the children while she is getting the procedure. 

When you restrict women’s reproductive rights, you’re hurting families. 

Limiting and restricting women’s reproductive rights hurts families economically. Unintended pregnancies, adding an  additional child to a family, can hurt families economically; potentially putting families closer to or throwing it into poverty.

The latest State of Babies’ Report conducted by ZEROTOTHREE found that 45% of babies living in families with poor or low-income. Babies in the USA don’t have access to affordable healthcare. Parents all over the USA struggle to pay for childcare. As a country we don’t prioritize helping families. Add to that the lack of paid leave and families who are already struggling are put in a precarious situation if they add another pregnancy and child to their household. 

According to the Institute for Women’s Policy Research,

Having fewer children increases a woman’s ability to participate in the labor market. Holding household income constant, an additional child reduces the resources available for other family members and can push a household closer to or below the poverty line. Further, both delayed childbearing and reduced fertility allow women to invest more heavily in their human capital, including increased schooling and job training, which can lead to higher-paying jobs and greater economic security.

According to the Guttmacher Institute close to 60 percent of women who seek abortions are women who already have children. One gyn who performs abortions shared this story: 

“One of my patients is a working mother of two small children. She came to see me when her youngest was five months old. She was breastfeeding and did not think she could become pregnant. She couldn’t afford childcare for a third child, and her family depended on her salary to survive.” 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Being able to choose whether to become a parent or not is an extremely personal decision that in the USA 🇺🇸 is also very political because that choice and many other reproductive decisions are being regulated and limited by government…which is why we must change government to represent the interests of the people it serves more. Bravo to Michelle Williams for using her voice in this way. #michellewilliams #reprojustice #reproductiverights #votelikeamother #parentingandpolitics #Repost @parents ・・・ PREACH. 🙌 Actress and mom #MichelleWilliams, who’s currently pregnant with baby number 2, delivered a powerful speech at last night’s #GoldenGlobes championing a woman’s right to choose.

A post shared by Parenting and Politics (@parentingandpolitics) on

Restricting women’s reproductive rights hurts society. If  parents  are thrown into poverty by adding additional children to their families, they will at some point need to rely on the government, they may not be able to work because they need to stay home and take care of additional children. This means less wages and less taxes. 

Restricting women’s reproductive rights also affects men. When a child is born, we often only think that it affects a woman’s life, but really, it also affects a man’s life. Becoming a parent is life-altering for the other person who is involved in the sexual act that leads to an unintended pregnancy. Unintended pregnancies can also affect men’s lives.  

Photo by Samantha Sophia on Unsplash

What happens when women don’t have access to reproductive health care and safe abortions? Women may put their life on the line by trying to get an unsafe abortion, women who may already be having a hard time to make ends meet will be thrown further into poverty by having to provide for another child. 

I support women’s reproductive rights because ….Parents have a right to decide when they will become parents. Furthermore,  Not everyone wants to be a parent, and that is OK. Who are you, who am I, to tell someone else, YOU HAVE TO BE A PARENT? 

READ RELATED: THE STATE OF BABIES 2019 

Women have been told what to do with their bodies for most of history. We’ve been treated as property, (and still are in some places in the world) and our bodies are often treated as commodities.

Women should not only be seen as vessels to give life. We ARE life.

We are human beings, we must have a say about what happens to our own bodies. We also have the right to decide whether or not we should terminate a pregnancy that is a result of violence or rape; (which, as a reminder, is a man’s fault. It is not the fault of the woman’s short skirt or how many drinks she had. A man is a rapist because of his actions, not because of someone else’s actions). 

 I am not here to make anyone change their mind on whether or not abortion is a sin, or whether it is right or wrong. What I AM saying is that no one’s rights should infringe on anyone else’s. If you don’t agree with abortion, then don’t get an abortion. It’s as simple as that. But don’t force your beliefs on to other people, because you don’t know what someone else’s life is like. You don’t know their struggles, their family life, their finances, their mental health. You don’t know how a pregnancy might affect a woman, a couple, a marriage, a family. You simply don’t know, so don’t judge. And I say that especially to WOMEN who are sometimes so quick to judge OTHER WOMEN and who don’t use their power to uplift all women.

 

Even if you don’t personally believe in ending an unintended pregnancy, as we are about to commemorate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade in 1973, I urge every person to protect a woman’s humanity, a woman’s ability to have agency over her own body.

It doesn’t mean you have to get an abortion and you are going against your personal beliefs, it simply means you are choosing to uphold and respect the humanity and agency of women in our country. 

TO CHECK OUT WHAT ORGANIZATIONS YOU CAN SUPPORT TO HELP UPHOLD WOMEN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS and PAID LEAVE AND OTHER MEASURES THAT HELP FAMILIES CLICK HERE. 

Diana Limongi
Diana a mom, activist, nonprofit professional, podcaster and writer from Queens, NY. She writes about motherhood, activism, raising my multilingual kids, culture and travel. She and her multicultural family live in Queens, NY.

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