By Dr. Yaounde Olu
People are reeling about revelations of a “leak” of a draft anti-abortion opinion written by Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. This took a lot of people by surprise, but observers note that the Supreme Court has been in the process of morphing into a position to roll back Roe vs Wade for years. The current revelations, therefore, have been anticipated by those who knew what was on the horizon.
This revelation has ignited a wave of protests all around the country. Roe vs Wade was passed in 1973 and some people had grown complacent, possibly thinking that the law would remain in force forever. Various polls have revealed that the majority of Americans favor Roe vs Wade and do not want to see it rolled back. The discovery of the draft opinion, however, has served as a wake up call.
The issue of abortion has traditionally been broken down into two camps: pro-life and pro-choice. Pro-life people are against ending pregnancies. Some of these people are so extreme that they oppose abortions even in the case of rape, incest, or endangerment to the life of the mother. Pro-Choice people insist on the right to choose whether or not to carry a child.
It is time that we take a new look at this issue, because we have been looking at it in a skewed manner. First, we have to understand that women who are pro-choice are not “pro-murder” (of fetuses). Their stance is that they want to have control over their own bodies. Actually, it’s ludicrous that in a society in this day and age women don’t have this control.
We’re missing something else that is important; men and women bear equal responsibility for bringing a child into the world. Because the world is negatively skewed, however, women bear a disproportionate responsibility for the entire act of conceiving a child. Legislation targets them. This must change. Any punitive anti-abortion laws that are created should address both women and men!
Something else must be said: if we consider the prenatal epoch, a life begins as soon as the sperm fertilizes the egg. After that, the embryo-cum-fetus spends between 7 to 9 months inside of a woman’s body before it makes its debut at “birth.” There are cultures that consider this point, and the age of a person takes into account the period spent alive in the womb before birth. Abortion, therefore, can be seen as the termination of a life, and some would call this murder, which is not a desirable outcome to most people. So, it would be feasible for us to figure out how to address the issue of unexpected or unwanted pregnancies without the option of abortion.
Men tend to control the world, and the passage of laws regulating a woman’s body is an extension of men, in particular, white patriarchal men, controlling women’s bodies. Because of these power dynamics, the change is going to have to involve men as advocates and participants; they are the untapped resource that can make a difference.
These are some of the suggested strategies that have been discussed in this regard: when women are sanctioned for unwanted pregnancies, sanction the men as well because they were partners in the event. This can include fines levied on them. If a woman can be imprisoned when she seeks an abortion, imprison the man as well. In other words, whatever happens to the women should happen to their partners. Finally, if a man is known to impregnate multiple women and those women seek abortions, the men should be fined and/or required to get mandatory vasectomies.
Ultimately, however, we go down a slippery slope if we allow government to have this kind of power. Better solutions might include ramped-up education on personal responsibility. The truth of the matter is that sex is often spontaneous and unplanned, and there are economic consequences, which women disproportionately bear. Finding a way to identify positive economic incentives that would encourage personal responsibility would be a desired tactic. In the meanwhile, men should NOT be in the business of regulating what happens in a woman’s body, and hopefully, women will step up to the plate and make better decisions regarding their own behavior. This would include going to the polls to vote for their own interests. Women should take back their power. Period. A Luta Continua.
Reprinted from the Chicago Crusader