In response to the latest ban on abortion passing in Oklahoma (this would make performing an abortion a felony, punishable for up to ten years in prison), I have been trying to understand why. Why are Republican legislators pushing so hard to restrict the bodily autonomy of females? Why are we seeing so many Republican and conservative states pushing back years of progress?
These recent years there have been a lot of big social reform movements: Black Lives Matter, Stop AAPI Hate, #MeToo. Things are being talked about in public spaces and change is being talked about. Conservatives are being pushed further and further from social “norms.” I think they understand this, and that some parts of them fear that they will lose power, and so they choose to do what will keep them in power, or at least restrict people for the next couple of years.
To understand this, or at least try to, it’s important to look at abortion more systematically. Who does it target, and more importantly, how does intersectionality target some people more? For example, a Black trans man will have a lot harder of a time finding abortion and reproductive health care than a cis white woman. These laws will not affect every childbearing person the same and may be being used to target certain groups of people, keeping them from elevating themselves or their economic status, keeping oppressed groups oppressed. Abortion restriction is a tool that is used to oppress uterus-owning people, restricting them from their own bodily autonomy, and promoting the idea that their only use is to have a child.
And having a child should not be forced on a person. There are a lot of factors to think about, from the health of the child bearer or the costs that a child can bring, these factors make it so that there are groups of people who may be more inclined to get an abortion than others. A low income person may choose to abort because they cannot afford a child, or a disabled person may choose to abort because their body may be unable to safely carry a child or there is a risk of passing genes or disease on. And arguments that there are options for the child after birth fall flat when we look at the state of foster care and adoption in America. If we also think about both the impacts pregnancy can have on a body during and after, can we really justify putting a person through all of that?
Having a child is not always a burden, but for some people it can be, whether it be economically, financially, or emotionally. And we cannot promote the idea that you should be required to have or carry a child at the expense of yourself.
Yes, a human life is priceless, and we cannot treat it as expendable. But an embryo is not a human, and we have to put the human holding the embryo first.