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The USA's anti-abortion laws shows men still think they have the right to make decisions about women's bodies


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The anti-abortion movement in the US has been building momentum for a while, and the past few days have seen various movements towards pro-life law coming to fruition - as the New York Times writes, 'four states have passed laws this year that effectively ban abortion after six weeks of pregnancy', with others looking to follow.

Whilst this isn't surprising for anyone who has been following the issue, the most infuriating thing about all these bills is that they have all been signed by men.

my body my choice

Image Credit: Steve Rainwater on Flickr

The Georgia law, known as the 'foetal heartbeat bill', rules out the option of abortion for women so soon that many may not even know they are pregnant by the time the procedure is no longer an option. What is even more shocking is that 'the law's provisions establish fetuses as full people under the law - meaning women could be held criminally responsible for seeking an abortion or even for having a miscarriage'. 

Yes, you read that right.

According to Business Insider, this could mean a 30-year sentence.

Last week, the State of Alabama went even further and passed a law banning abortion. This new legislation makes abortion illegal and unattainable, even 'in cases of rape and incest'. The news has been followed by uproar across the globe. 

One aspect of the new law that is particularly shocking is that the 'penalty for aborting [a] baby conceived through rape is harsher than [the] rape penalty'. If this isn't a clear example of an institutionally sexist society, I don't know what is. 

Alabama's case was soon followed by Missouri on Friday, whose 'state legislature has passed a controversial bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions at eight weeks of pregnancy'.

According to U.S. Today, 'similar bills' are working their way through the legislatures of South Carolina and Louisiana.

Many who protest against abortion claim to be 'pro-life'. What confuses me the most is that this completely discounts the life that has already been born: the woman's. In effect, they are putting the life of an unborn fetus above that of the life already being led. Some even have the audacity to hold signs claiming they are 'pro-women', 'pro-life', but this cannot be possible when a woman has decided that an abortion is what is best for her.

For men to speak and make rulings on pregnancy that has never and will never happen to them is disgusting. 

Roe vs Wade

Image Credit: Chris Wieland on Flickr

Another claim made by those anti-abortion is 'men regret lost fatherhood'. But for once, this isn't about men. This is about women and what they want to do with their bodies. It's 2019. Men need to stop thinking they have the right to tell women what decisions they should make.

The tactics employed by anti-abortion protestors are disgusting. They aim to torture women, calling on their conscience and morals, calling them to 'think about what they are doing'. In many cases, they call abortion murder.

Many claim to root their anti-abortion ideology in their faith. To them I say: that's fine if that's how you want to treat your body, but don't enforce your religious views on others. We are too far along to start pushing the views of a religion that is hugely biased towards men upon women when they have fought so hard to get the rights they have today. For me, this is yet another example of how fundamentally sexist society still is.

According to CBS News, at the Georgia bill signing, Governor Brian Kemp "recognized that the bill will likely be "challenged in the court of law" but said Georgia will "always continue to fight for life." '

At the signing of the bill, Kemp claimed that "Georgia is a state that values life. We protect the innocent, we champion the vulnerable, we stand up and speak for those that are unable to speak for themselves." 

But the passing of such a bill is not be 'protecting', 'championing', 'standing up' or 'speaking' for women. In fact, it completely overlooks their voices and devalues their lives. 

The state has faced a major backlash since the announcement of the bill, with actress Alyssa Milano calling for a 'sex strike'.

Although many are in uproar about this issue, there are many more states that are putting pressure on women and doing everything they can to make the option of abortion as difficult as possible. Many women already have to travel hundreds of miles to get a safe abortion, with a large percentage not being able to afford the trip. For more information on this see The New York Times' podcast 'The Daily'.

Alongside the news breaking in America, we all need to turn our attention to what's happening in our neighbour, Northern Ireland. There, 'women who have an abortion... can face life in jail'. 

This is one of those moments in history where everyone needs to come together. Men, just as importantly, you need to speak out and say this is not ok. 

For the people in power who think they can get away with this, the women of the world are coming for you.

Lead Image Credit: Chris Wieland on Flickr

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