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Women’s bodies should not be battlegrounds

By Shanzeh Khurram

Having recently moved to America from Pakistan, I’ve always believed America to be a very liberal, progressive country where people can expect their individual rights to be protected. However, with the Republicans’ “war on women,” I feel like I’ve stepped into the 1950s. It’s shocking how, in this day and age, politicians are trying to pass laws that leave women unable to take control of their own bodies.

The state of American politics certainly surprised me–and not in a good way. One would expect a secular country like America to grant its women freedom and liberty consistent with the “American dream”. Instead there are politicians who believe that a woman, regardless of her faith, shouldn’t have an abortion. Even in developing countries like Pakistan abortion is legal if the woman’s life is in danger.

The Republicans’ stance on women’s issues makes me question whether the American dream really holds true for women. If the conservative Republican Party comes to power, then the whole concept of the American dream, especially for women, will be harmed. This is a country where people, regardless of race or sex or class, can start from nothing and achieve whatever they want if they work hard enough. But with the Republican’s refusal to accept equal pay legislation and provide resources such as food stamps, education, and health care, one would doubt whether women living in USA could actually be whatever they want to be.

A lot of Republican policies limit women’s reproductive rights and, ultimately, women’s freedom. From Todd Akin’s comments on “legitimate rape” to Mitt Romney’s plans to end funding for Planned Parenthood, it’s clear that the war on women is not just a myth.

While Republicans claim to be pro-life, their concern seems to be limited to fetuses. Lauren Zuniga’s poem Personhood highlights how Republicans are focusing more on saving fetuses than actual people. Republicans mainly aim to prevent abortions at any cost; after that it doesn’t matter what happens to the baby, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether the woman’s life is at stake. If Republicans were truly pro-life, they would support women who choose to have children by ensuring that such women have access to basic child-care and healthcare. Instead, they cut funding that helps these women: Republicans want to repeal the Affordable Care Act and do away with safety net programs like Medicare –decisions which, if enforced, will make it harder for women to get medical access and raise their children.

If a government believes that the interests and needs of a person are not its concern, then it certainly has no right to interfere when it comes to women’s reproductive health. Even then Republicans keep trying to pass laws that dictate what women should do without bothering to provide support to those in need. The Republican stance comes off as hypocritical as it fails to step in when it’s really important. The purpose of a government should be to provide a framework where all citizens can expect to have their rights protected, along with providing basic resources such as education and health care, which is something that Republicans fail to do.

It’s fine for a person to have conservative beliefs, but it’s not okay for him to expect everyone else to follow the same values. For a politician to state that women should not have abortions even if they have been raped or their life is at stake is unacceptable. Republican Rep. Joe Walsh even said that with modern technology and science a woman cannot possibly die due to pregnancy complications- a statement that is almost as false and illogical as Todd Akin’s comments on rape. A woman’s body is not a battleground. When it comes to abortion or contraceptives, a woman should be able to decide for herself what she wants without legislators trying to pass bills that limit her options.

It’s 2012 and women should not have to fight for the right to make decisions concerning their bodies. Women can use their vote to ensure that their rights are protected. And it’s not just limited to abortion, gay marriage, or contraception: a person should be able to have full control over his or her life. Individual freedom is what I associate America with, and that’s why I believe that the Democrats, who aim to preserve such freedom and are more concerned with individuals’ rights, deserve to win the elections.


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4 Responses to “Women’s bodies should not be battlegrounds”

  1. Merium Khan says:

    Very well written, however I do tend to disagree with your view point on abortions. Banning abortion first of all is not an “anti-feminest’ act, simply because men do not face conception. Those who are against abortions argue that they are not taking away rights from women, they are preventing them from turning into barbaric creatures. As you wrote that “the purpose of a government should be to provide a framework where all citizens can expect to have their rights protected…”, you tend to be oblivious to the fact that the fetus is also a human. Does it not deserve to have a simple right to live? Yes, I understand women who get raped, are devastated and may not want to keep their child if impregnated.. but then in such a situation you support murder? Which is a greater crime than rape itself. And then there comes the scenario of teen pregnancies, unhealthy pregnancies, financially unstable pregnancies or unplanned pregnancies; which are simply hilarious, especially when these women argue to have the right to kill their baby, no, they should have the right to keep their legs closed. under any circumstance murder should not be acceptable, and any society that accepts such an inhumane act can sadly not be called ‘modernized’. Modernization does not come from letting people do as they please, it comes from submission of all citizens to a civil way of life. Once you accept murder, you really cant draw a line anywhere. Like you said that, “Even in developing countries like Pakistan abortion is legal”, you again help me prove my point. Where no line between right and wrong can be drawn, you are talking about a country when your Gardner is shot, for absolutely no reason and you still continue with your everyday life. Please don’t use Pakistan as an influential example for any country. To sum it all up, I’m pretty sure that any human alive today, no matter how mentally, emotionally, physically, financially ect, unstable would have chosen to have lived their extremely difficult life than to have never had a chance at one.

    • Ty says:

      two things- there is no reason to go around bashing Pakistan just because Shanzeh used it as an example. As she mentioned, that is where she just moved from and is therefore obviously a great example for her to draw from…. if not the only example for her to draw from. Very unfair to attack her for that. Additionally, “I’m pretty sure that any human alive today, no matter how mentally, emotionally, physically, financially ect, unstable would have chosen to have lived their extremely difficult life than to have never had a chance at one.”– that is not true. That is not even a little bit true which is why suicide happens. As a society we need to fix the problems that face living people and cause people to not want to live, which we have NOT achieved.

  2. Merium Khan says:

    I am amused as to how ignorance has taken a whole different level. yes, so to avoid suicide we shall start taking away lives of people even before they enter this world.

  3. Charlotte Breen says:

    In reply to Merium Khan, I find your answer amoral and slightly twisted.

    In legislating for norms, you cannot cover extremes.

    I spent an hour last night with my two girls at a candle light vigil in memory of Savita Halappanava, a 31 year old woman who died in an Irish hospital, having miscarried her baby.

    She arrived at hospital, 17 weeks pregnant and with a dilated cervix. She was told she was miscarrying, and the baby could not go to term under the conditions. But rather than terminating the pregnancy, and removing her baby, who had no chance of survival, (at 17 weeks, outside the womb,) the medical staff instead refused to intervene, as the baby still had a heart beat. They made Savita endure a extended labour, up to the point the baby’s heartbeat stopped. By which stage she had contracted septicemia (in the hospital), from which she died 3 days later.

    Situations like these are why AT A MINIMUM you need to legislate for the norm of a problem, not the extremes.

    The law in Ireland allows for abortion where the LIFE rather than the HEALTH of the mother is threatened. But despite that passing at 2 constitutional referenda, for the intervening 20 years, our government has refused to legislate for the issue.

    And so, as the medical staff could not prove than Savita’s life rather than her health was at risk, she died. Her husband lost their baby and his wife. Society lost a family.

    This in a country with one of the best maternal survival rates in the world, with 6 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births.

    The fear that conservatives have, that abortion will inevitably be used as a form of contraception, rather than a terrible necessity, places women at risk of death every day.

    Your fear. Your belief. Your faith. Which you obviously count as more important than other womens health.

    The most poignant protest sign I saw at the vigil was

    “Savita had a heart beat too.”

    Stop letting your fear kill women.

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