Stay out of my va-jay!

Reproductive rights, abortion, access to contraception, parental consent of abortion of minors, all of these are private matters between a woman and her doctor. They are not election talking points to woo voters from the left or right. These topics are private and sometimes involve tragic circumstances. It’s not a discussion of Christian morality and branding women who seek these services as immoral, reckless, feckless, promiscuous and need to be taught a lesson. It is degrading to infantilize women this way, to tell women when she’s allowed access to birth control (when she’s married), when she’s allowed to have an abortion (if at all) and if a minor has to tell her parents she’s pregnant even if she could be severely punished or even harmed by her family. Women do not need to be told by others how to manage their reproductive functions, even very young girls have a right to decide what should happen in the event that they find themselves pregnant. Let’s pretend if erectile dysfunction is common in most young males of procreating age, you can be damn sure Viagra would be free and available to all males and The Hobby Lobby wouldn’t launch a lawsuit against the government about not providing Viagra to its male employees. There wouldn’t even be a debate.

Men, the irksome male species of human that loves to involve themselves in all things non-male when it suits them. The male politicians and male prospective presidential candidates have the most to say about Roe v. Wade (the historic Supreme Court decision in 1973 that made abortions legal). Candidates like Bobby Jindal, Ted Cruz, Scott Walker, Rand Paul and even Jeb Bush all say that they would defund Planned Parenthood as one of their first acts if elected President, don’t we have far more serious problems and policy concerns than Planned Parenthood? An organization that provides free and affordable birth control, breast cancer screening, basic reproductive health services and yes abortion is included as part of their services to millions of low income women? Many right wing, foaming at the mouth, self-appointed messengers of God-politicians go so far to say that Planned Parenthood are really just abortionist clinics, as if their sole purpose for existence is to perform abortions. Of all the services Planned Parenthood offers to the public, only 3% are abortion services – that means 97% are for other women’s health concerns, such as breast cancer screening, PAP smears (helps to prevent female reproductive cancers), and providing affordable birth control to women who otherwise couldn’t afford it.

What is even more hypocritical about these self-appointed champions for unborn children is that most of them support the death penalty and do not oppose assisted suicide as much as they oppose abortion. If one chooses to be pro-life, one has to be pro-life all the way, and that includes convicts on death row, yes, those unsavory people who belong in the underbelly of society, who don’t deserve to see the light of day for their crimes and who are condemned to die for their heinous and unspeakable crimes. Yes, Mr. Jindal, Cruz, Walker, Paul, Bush, you must spare their lives too if you call yourself pro-life. You don’t get to pick and choose when you get to be pro-life. And for assisted suicide, even if a patient has lost all function but for his left thumb, and he lives a miserable dependent existence with absolutely no enjoyment or quality of life, and is just sitting there waiting to die, based on pro-life principle as dictated by God, the same God you purport to worship, which is natural life through natural death, all the aforementioned gentlemen should be as strongly against assisted suicide as they are abortion, no exceptions – just like their view on abortion. These anti-abortion politicians are political opportunists, their positions are not born of real convictions, it’s very easy to feel sympathy for an unborn child. you imagine them as newborns, all pink and wonderful and glowing but they never got to be born because their mothers cruelly ended their lives and they throw their political campaign behind those unborn children, of trying to ‘save them’ from their fate, from their cruel mothers who are unfit to begin with, they will be their champions because that is popular and everyone can related to a cute little baby. Well, gentlemen, how about throwing your political weight behind the people that are alive right now who are suffering? There are 16 million children in America that are living in poverty right now, which amounts to 22% of all American children, that is a staggering number, more than one-fifth of all children in the richest nation on earth live in poverty, and they concern themselves with the 3% of abortions carried out in Planned Parenthood? It would get them a lot more votes if they showed concern for the children in poverty that currently exist not the ones that didn’t get born.

The same politicians who want to defund Planned Parenthood as the first order of business if elected president are also the same people that are cutting back on social programs for the needy. So they want to block poor women’s access to birth control and abortion services and at the same time they want to cut their aid to support these children that they will be forced to have because of the former scenario, this is just another indirect way to shame the poor, to pick on the poor. Politicians who cite their Christian faith as the reason for their strong abortion stance, I don’t buy it because if you were Christian you would spare the lives of the condemned too, just like Jesus did. And do not talk to the voters about abstinence only birth control, studies and studies have shown that abstinence only education does not work, and in states where abstinence only education is taught (mostly the Bible belt), the rate of teenage pregnancy is higher and there is virtually no delay of sexual activity in teens whether they receive abstinence only education or not.  But more importantly, the same politicians that are promoting abstinence only education can barely keep their own pants up.

As a practicing Catholic woman, I am personally against abortion and consider it a very serious matter that the individual needs to come to terms with between herself and her maker. I am also against the death penalty and assisted suicide. This is my personal choice, my personal conviction based on my faith, my beliefs and what I believe is right for me. I would never transfer my personal beliefs into a political talking point or force it down the throats of other people. I would never have an abortion myself, even if  my health or life was at risk especially if my baby has a chance of surviving as long as I had one breath in my body, I will gladly give my life to my baby and that remains true after my children were born, I would lay down my life for them any time. Having said that, I’ve always been blessed to be able to afford birth control and in my younger and leaner days I had access to affordable birth control. In short, I’ve never experienced an unwanted pregnancy. I’ve never been pregnant out of wedlock not because I was more virtuous than others but because I had access to birth control for most of my adult life. Not everyone is so lucky, the decision to have an abortion is never taken lightly. Very few women go into an abortion clinic skipping and hopping with joy. It’s always tinged with regret, sadness and guilt. She may regret this abortion later, it may have been her only chance at ever having a child but at that time it may have been the only choice. Many pro-life activists hinge on the fact that some women say that they wish they were told of the psychological effects of having an abortion and that their doctors emphasized more on the psychological and emotional fallout of getting an abortion as opposed to just the physical, but is that really the job of the doctor? If a woman walks into an abortion clinic and sits on the examining table, it is fair for a doctor is to assume that this woman is ready and have thought about all the consequences, physical and emotional of having an abortion. Having an abortion is never a ‘good’ thing nor a desirable result, it’s usually done with great reluctance and regret, no doctor in the world can prepare you for that.

However unsavory it is to people, abortion is a legal and safe medical procedure, because it’s legal the reasons why a woman would have an abortion is irrelevant. The political debate (again, usually by men) on why women get abortions and how some reasons are more legitimate than others (such as rape or incest and the life of the mother is in danger – though according to Todd Akin, the rape has to be ‘legitimate’) and reasons that are not legitimate, such as getting pregnant after a drunken night out or a sober one night stand, in those cases, women just have to suffer that consequence of an unwanted pregnancy and yes I said ‘suffer’. It is clear that the United States is not an abortion nation, we have the highest teenage pregnancy rate in advanced nations, so clearly horny and irresponsible teenagers aren’t queuing up to get abortions. More people are born out of wedlock than ever as the stigma of having children out of wedlock has eroded with modern times, many women choose to be single mothers if they find themselves unexpectedly pregnant if their circumstances allow them to. As a woman, I can say with a fair amount of certainty that an abortion is rarely the first thought in a woman’s head if she finds herself unexpectedly pregnant, it’s usually the last, usually with much sadness and regret and when all other options have been exhausted. Abortion is a deeply emotional and personal issue and for politicians (men or women) to make judgements about having an abortion and how and when a woman may have an abortion is an invasion of privacy on a massive scale. It’s a discussion to be had between a woman and her doctor.

This may be fairly obvious, but if someone doesn’t own a vagina, uterus and ovaries, then one doesn’t have a right to discuss abortion rights, they don’t get a say on who gets to have an abortion and under what circumstance an abortion is acceptable. They don’t get to decide who gets to have access to birth control based on their marital status. This is just another form of latent misogyny. The idea that women could control their reproductive cycles and control how many children she could have have never sat well with some men. When Margaret Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in 1916 and was distributing information about contraceptives, she was arrested, the concern that she was promoting immorality in society (there were, however, no medical concerns about someone taking hormones to regulate their cycle), the idea, the thought that a woman in 1916 can possibly control her reproductive cycle is beyond the comprehension of the mores of the society. It was presumed for millennia that the morality of society was kept in check by women’s fear of unwanted pregnancies, and it was also a way to control the lives and mobility of women, the more children she has the more restricted and dependent her life is on a man, which would then subjugate her to her husband. But if contraceptives were made widely available for women, where she could control and decide how many children she wanted, if any at all, and more importantly she could potentially have sex with anyone without the consequence of an unwanted pregnancy, that would be an unmitigated disaster, total bedlam, a total moral decay of society, what control would a man or a patriarchal society have over her? This was 1916, a reaction that was predictable. However in the year 2015 – almost 100 years later, this idea that women can do whatever they want with whomever they want whenever they want still doesn’t sit well with some men, hence all these restrictions on birth control coverage and abortion access, but at least the men of 1916 weren’t so cowardly to hide behind Jesus, God, the rights of unborn children and just came right and said that they didn’t like the idea that women could do as they pleased sexually and determine how many children they had and they (the men) preferred to have control over the lives of their women.

The hypocrisy is made more unbearable with the likes Rep. Scott DeJarlais, an outspoken pro-life activist who describes the life of an unborn child as ‘sacred’ was caught on a tape recording to pressure his mistress to have an abortion because he didn’t want his wife to find out. When he was asked to bow out of the election race by members of his own party (Republican) he refused. And the sick thing is, he was reelected in November 2014. Louisiana Senator David Vitter, another ‘family oriented, pro-life’ politician, was caught visiting prostitutes but he’s apologized to his wife and all is forgiven, at least publicly. It seems that these conservative politicians pick and choose the morals they choose to follow. Voters don’t care that their senator, representative or president have affairs, visit prostitutes and engage in other seedy vices, but do not insult the intelligence of the voters when you call yourself a family oriented, Christian candidate and when you are caught out doing un-Christian deeds you expect your voters to forgive you when you apologize in public.

Lastly, to lighten the discussion, this video made by comedienne Amy Schumer illustrates how a woman’s right to birth control has been slowly eroded over the years by conservative activists. http://http://alswrite.tumblr.com/post/117741843962/ask-if-birth-control-is-right-for-you

It’s very funny but very poignant at the same time.

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