CADY: Protect women’s right to autonomy, choice

Women+hold+signs+up+at+a+pro-choice+rally+in+St.+Paul%2C+Minnesota+2019.+Photo+via+Flickr

Women hold signs up at a pro-choice rally in St. Paul, Minnesota 2019. Photo via Flickr

“Choice” is an important word that is often abandoned in the volatile arguments we see in the United States today regarding abortion laws and rights. Women having the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion and how to handle pregnancy is important and should not be overlooked.

We see people of all genders vocalizing their distaste for recent legislation aimed to undermine or abolish safe access to abortion care. It isn’t necessarily because these people wish for women to have abortions, it’s because they wish for them to have the choice

However, the prospect of choice for women in America is growing slim.

It has become increasingly apparent that Roe v. Wade is under attack in the United States. The Supreme Court upheld a Texas law Dec. 2021 that will ban abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy. And it seems that this is only the beginning of a reignited movement against women’s reproductive rights.

Soon, a decision will be made on the pending court case Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This case is regarding the constitutionality of a 2018 Mississippi state law which prohibits abortion operations following the first 15 weeks of pregnancy. This is the law that will challenge Roe v. Wade and perhaps threaten its existence entirely.

Wisconsin could see a 172-year-old abortion law go back into effect if the Supreme Court were to overturn Roe v. Wade. This law makes providing an abortion a felony in the state with a penalty of up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Many Republican politicians who support restricting or overturning abortion laws remain unable to put their money where their mouth is and can more fairly be regarded as “pro-birth” or “anti-choice” than “pro-life.”

As the fight continues to slash reproductive rights in America, we see a paralleled fight to pull away support for mothers and children, making it seem that they are not pro-life at all.

Republican lawmakers have put forth more restrictive policies to qualify for food stamps, opposed access to citizenship for “Dreamers” and the foster care system is still in shambles with little government support.

Yet, Republicans’ fight to put an end to safe abortions as quickly and carelessly as possible looms large. It is difficult to stomach how much they seem to care about restricting women’s rights and how little regard they have for the actual result of that. Fighting for restrictive laws to pass and then dismissing children’s access to food, housing, schooling, safety and quality of life is vile.

There is also another half of this whole conversation: the mothers. Women who are not granted safe and accessible abortion health care are in danger. Unlike what Republicans and pro-lifers think, abortions will still happen even if they are illegal, just as they did before Roe v. Wade.

Unsafe abortions are significantly higher in countries with restrictive abortion laws and these can result in serious injury such as organ failure or even death. In addition to this, women are often ignored, dismissed as the carrier of a life and not a life herself. It is dehumanizing to leave women with no choice if they become pregnant considering they could be victims of rape, suffer from life threatening pregnancies or be unable to provide for a child due to their life circumstances.

With abortion being such a highly emotionally charged conversation, as a country we often find ourselves, pro-life and pro-choice alike, arguing. Fighting rather than aligning; shouting rather than listening. As difficult as it can be, sometimes we need to take a moment to look into the eyes, read the words or listen to the voices of people we disagree with and understand their perspective; even if it does not change our own, at least we are making a conscious effort to empathize and even learn.

As a pro-choice woman, I will never look at somebody “pro-life” with judgment and hatred but instead seek to understand their perspective. There can be endless contributing factors to how and why somebody thinks a certain way: religion, family influences, their education or life events that have shaped them. The rhetoric surrounding abortion has become so intense, it seems we have turned our minds off to opposing arguments when instead we could consider and make progress.

Choice is an important word to me and it should be an important word in America. We have the choice to believe as we wish and vote as we see fit, I have the choice to share this with you and hope you can understand why the pro-choice movement must stand strong and fight to see positive changes. Women deserve to have choice, control over their bodies and confidence that they will be protected in the event of pregnancy.

This story was written by Grace Cady. She can be reached at grace.cady@marquette.edu