It is no surprise to many of us to learn today that the Supreme Court is likely to overturn Roe v. Wade.
After four years of Donald Trump as President, the January 6th attack on the capital, the passing of the beautiful Ruth Bader Ginsberg (RBG), and Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett being elected to the Supreme Court, we knew this day was unfortunately coming.
At a time when our country is beginning to wake up and understand its history of patriarchal and colonial harm, we still cannot seem to allow people fundamental rights, such as bodily integrity.
On my wall is a picture of RBG with the quote, “Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.” So here I am writing to you all to help the world better understand what bodily integrity is and how it should be protected by the 14th amendment.
The Bill of Rights limits the federal government from encroaching on our freedoms. The 14th amendment was adopted by Congress to further extend protections provided by the Fifth Amendment of the Bill of Rights and limit states’ abuse of power (Flavin, 2008). An individual has the right to freedom of thought, freedom of expression, the right to pursue happiness, the right to vote, the right to fair legal procedures, and also the right to liberty. Within the liberty clause exists the right to bodily integrity, the right to privacy (e.g. the right to an abortion), and the right to procreate.
We do not exist to serve our government under tyranny, but rather, our government exists to protect our fundamental rights, which include reproductive rights.
In the 1960s and 1970s, tens of thousands of sterilizations were disproportionally done in the United States on Native American, black, and Hispanic women (Flavin, 2008). In addition, many doctors at this time believed that minority women could not or would not use other types of birth control and therefore pushed for sterilization (Flavin, 2008).
It appears that the agenda is not about protection of all possible life in this country, but more about control of women and eugenics. Opposing abortion does not appear to be about generativity. If it were truly about a future life, then we would not be forcing women involved in the criminal justice system to undergo forced sterilization and tubal ligation, such as when a judge in Georgia ordered Carisa Ashe, a mother of seven, to undergo tubal litigation.
When it comes to abortions, anti-abortionists make arguments that have little, if any, backing. In 2003, President George W. Bush signed the so-called Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act, stating in his State of the Union address that the bill would “protect infants at the very hour of their birth,” arguing that the fetus is partially born when this term is never used by medical doctors or in legal literature.
Some argue that abortion should only be allowed when there is substantial threat to the woman’s life, but what constitutes “substantial” and why must a woman need to prove it?
Today, reproductive rights have been almost exclusively understood in our country as the right to an abortion. While abortion is within the umbrella of reproductive rights, this is not what reproductive rights activists fight for. Rather, we believe we all have the right to bodily autonomy, which means the right to procreate, not procreate, have an abortion, and make our own decisions about our bodies.
Overturning Roe v. Wade is not in the best interests of women. It is in the best interest of the patriarchy, which continues to infiltrate our world and cause harm to women physically, socioeconomically, and emotionally.
We women have been through enough. Leave our bodies alone. It’s not an absurd request.