Women’s Reproductive Rights: Through A Different Lens

Jeanette Hazelwood, Contributor

For generations, women have been treated as second-class citizens. In the face of injustice, we must remember that women’s rights are human rights and that we will never be seen as full, equal citizens until we have full control over the decisions we make about our reproductive health.

We often see two split sides to the argument in mainstream media. Conservative media often broadcasts the sentiment that by granting women reproductive rights, we grant them the right to murder their unborn children. Meanwhile, liberal media argues that reproductive rights grant women the right to make decisions about thier own bodies, including their ability to have an abortion or access contraceptives.

Taking a deeper dive into the totality of women’s reproductive rights reveals that there is much more at stake. The extent to which services are provided at women’s health clinics, the current troubling trends in communities at-risk for limited reproductive rights, and the damage that the lack of reproductive rights might pose on our society—are all topics that warrant the same level of media coverage.

Much of conservative media condemns clinics like Planned Parenthood for offering abortion services to their clients. What conservative media neglects to discuss however, is that these clinics offer a wide variety of services, such as access to pelvic exams, cancer screenings, STD testing, STD treatments, pregnancy testing, pregnancy services, patient sexual education, general health care services, and LGBT+ services. According to Planned Parenthood’s 2019 Affiliate Medical Services Data report, the breakdown of services provided at these clinics is: 52% STD Testing and Treatment, 25% Contraception, 13% offer other Women’s Health Services, 6% Cancer Screenings, and Prevention, and 3% Abortion Services. As data suggests, only a narrow percentage of their services include emergency contraception, birth control pills, and abortion services.

In addition to the aforementioned services, many of these clinics pride themselves on being able to offer services to those both with and without insurance, granting access to quality care regardless of an individual’s income.

As we tread on dangerous ground regarding limited access to reproductive rights, concerns for alternative contraceptives emerge. Abortion pills are now the most common method for terminating pregnancies in the United States.

In the first week after the new provisions to the Texas Human Life Protection Act went into effect—prohibiting abortion in most cases—the number of abortion pills sales skyrocketed from an average of 11 purchases per day to around 137 purchases per day. In addition, the international nonprofit, Aid Access, noted a 1,180% increase in orders for abortion pills. This spike leveled off over the following three months, but orders remained 174% higher than before the new law was enacted.

Many of these orders are being placed with online companies claiming to be pharmacies in countries like India. With this increase, comes a new set of concerns as to whether these companies are legitimate, whether the products are safe, and who is looking out for the well-being of these women in need.

The fight for women to have control over their bodies and have access to services that support their decision has been an ongoing battle for generations. A vivid example of the sustained prejudice towards women is a statement made in a “friend-of-the-court” brief, submitted to the Supreme Court by the Texas Right to Life anti-abortion group with a signature from Jonathan Mitchell—one of the many architects of the Texas S.B.8 law–-states, “women can control their reproductive lives without access to abortion, they can do so by refraining from sexual intercourse.”

Reiterating Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s statement from her 1993 confirmation hearing, “The decision whether or not to bear a child is central to a woman’s life, to her well-being and dignity. It is a decision she must make for herself. When the Government controls that decision for her, she is being treated as less than a fully adult human responsible for her own choices.”

Ultimately, a woman’s ability to control her own body is imperative to being in control of their own life. This applies to all aspects, including the choice to have sex, access to contraceptive services, and the ability to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy or bear a child.

As we continue to look into the number of restrictive laws intended to limit, control, or regulate women’s reproductive rights, an article by MIC shows that 468 bills were introduced to govern women’s bodies from Jan. to Aug. 2014. Whereas, the publication found no bills with intent to regulate men’s reproductive rights introduced within the same timeframe. This alone shows the complete hypocrisy of the government, strictly concerned over women’s reproductive rights.

While legislation limiting women’s rights are being put in place, plenty of companies and government actors spend time create and push for FDA clearance on medication to ensure that men are able to get erections and enjoy their sexuality.

Think about this for a moment: if a woman goes out and sleeps with 100 men in 100 days, she may get pregnant and have a child 9 months later; multiple children in rare instances. If a man goes out and sleeps with 100 women in 100 days, they have the potential of impregnating 100 women. So, explain to me again: why is it that we are regulating women’s bodies?

We must remember that until women have complete control over our choices, including the choice to have sex, obtain birth control, have an abortion, or bear a child, we will remain second-class citizens in the eyes of the government. Women’s rights include the right to live free from violence and discrimination, to have access to medical and mental health services, to be educated, to own property, to vote, and to earn an equal wage. We must stand together as sisters and fight for our rights just as our sisters fought before us.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Pioneer Newspaper or its editorial staff.