OK, so the topic of post this post is completely unrelated to my experience living abroad but, nevertheless it is an extremely important topic that we all need to speak about. All of us. This post is all about the recent Anti-Abortion laws that have been passed in various US states, including that of Alabama, which basically attacks the reproductive rights of women. I am sure that many of you would have heard about or seen this on the news, social media or have discussed this news with friends or colleagues. For those of you who have not heard about this, I’ll give you a brief summary of this Bill, but before I do so let me emphasise something.
The attacks on women’s reproductive rights is not just an American issue. There a many other governments in this world that restrict women from making choices about her own body. To emphasise this, I just want to mention to my fellow Brits that this is also an issue that is much closer to home, in terms of geographical proximity: abortion is illegal in Northern Ireland despite the 1967 Abortion Act being passed in the rest of the UK. Even in cases of rape and incest. And those who do carry out an abortion face a life imprisonment. This has resulted in many women from Northern Ireland either travelling to parts of Great Britain in order to carry out the procedure under the NHS, or in some cases women who cannot afford to travel having to resort to illegal abortion practices that could result in their deaths. Let that sink in. Now that you’ve got this information, I’ll give you a summary of the situation in Alabama.
WHAT’S GOING ON IN ALABAMA?
On 14 May, the Senate of the state of Alabama passed a bill that has made it illegal for women and girls from having abortions. This anti-abortion bill is the most strictest ban in the USA, as it prohibits women and girls from having an abortion at any stage of the pregnancy and has no exceptions for victims of rape or incest. None whatsoever. Now this decision was voted on by a vote of 25-6 Senators, with the 25 senators in favour of the bill comprised of rich, privileged White Republican men (no surprise there). This was then signed into law by the governor of Alabama, Kay Ivey. A woman who is clearly fine with prospects of allowing rich White men to make decisions that controls every aspect of a woman’s body. Here are some more facts about this so-called “Human Life Protection Act” (that does not protect the lives of mothers, but if anything neglects and harms them)
- Any doctor who attempt to perform an abortion procedure faces up to 10 years in prison.
- Doctors who actually go ahead and perform the procedure face up to 99 years. Let me type that in words for you: Ninety-nine years.
- A woman who has a miscarriage could potentially be pulled into an investigation which will look into whether someone performed an illegal abortion on her. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it?
And Alabama is not the only US state to introduce such restrictive bans on abortion laws: Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota and Ohio are all examples of states that have banned any abortion from taking place as soon as a foetal heartbeat is detected. And on top of this, there are many other states that are considering taking path of “Anti-Abortion highway”.
It should come as no surprise that I am angry. And I am not the only one who is. It is not OK and it will never be OK for men to make decisions about women’s body. It is beyond disgusting knowing that a group of rich, privileged white men have the opportunity to control the bodies of women and girls by restricting abortion. Regardless of whether it takes two to make a child, let me remind you that the person who conceives is a she; the person who goes through the whole process of carrying a baby along with its various struggles is a she; the person who goes through blood, sweat, tears and endless pain when giving birth to a baby is a she and unlike the other person involved, she cannot just walk away and opt out in being a parent. He can, but she can’t. Men do not get pregnant, and they never will. They do not carry children in their bodies for up to nine months and they never will. They do not give birth to give and they never will. This all has endless physical, mental and emotional effects women, and so if she does not want to go ahead with it, then she has every right to make that decision for herself, by herself.
It should also come as no surprise that I am upset. I am upset knowing that the State of Alabama, alongside the other states I have mentioned and the other governments with anti-abortion laws, does not give the slightest f*ck for women and girls. Not one bit. I recently read a news article on CBS News with the title “A pregnant 11-year-old rape victim in Ohio would no longer be allowed to have an abortion under new state law” and honestly, my heart could not stop aching. This an 11-year-old girl we’re talking about. An 11-year-old who despite all the trauma of being raped repeatedly by a 26-year-old man, has to continue her pregnancy and give birth to her rapist’s child, despite being a child herself. I have a niece who turned 11 last month and she has so much ahead of her in terms of being able to experience life the way she wishes to. This poor Ohioan young girl has all of that taken away from her. Her dreams and aspirations for herself and her future all gone. And it is not fair.
You know, it’s funny how America is the “Land of the Free” but the government somehow forgot to mention that this motto does not apply to women (or Black people, or Native Americans, or those of other ethnic/migrant background, or those part of the LGBTQI+ group, I could go on). This is just a reminder of why feminism is extremely important and why, as suggested by the amazing Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche at her 2012 TEDxTalk, we should all be feminist. Feminism is not synonymous to ‘hating men’ or women wanting to be more superior than men. Feminism all about equality with men in terms of exercising social, political and economic rights. It’s crazy how we are living in a whole 2019 but misogyny and the various other issues, like the problematic concepts of gender, continue to act as that thick wall that stretches as wide as the Great of China, if not more and prevents us from claiming and exercising our rights. Essentially the end purpose for all those involved in the Feminism movement, both women and men, is to break down this ‘Great Wall of Misogyny’ and reach this equality society needs. If a man has a right to decide, for example, if he wants to have a vasectomy and women do not have a say in this, then a woman has every right to decide if she wants to have an abortion and men should not have a say in her decision. Her body, her choice.
I wish to finish this post with a quote by Samirah Raheem in 2018:
“My body is not a political playground. it’s not a place for legislation: it’s mine and it’s my future”
Men do not have a place in making choices over a women’s body: it is her body and therefore, she has every, single right to make whatever choices she feels is best for herself. No one else: HERSELF. I pray for all those who have had their individual rights to their bodies stripped away from them, and those who have never been given that opportunity to have those rights.
( PS. I highly recommend for those of you who have not, to take some time to watch this: We should all be feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie | TEDxEuston )