A Woman’s Rights are a Woman’s Right

Rebecca Sufrin

Writing Intern

Some of the most passionate and heated debates regarding abortion and women’s rights have taken place this past month. Ohio, North Carolina, and Texas have been at the forefront of these debates, sparking significant dialogue all across the country.

Ohio Governor John Kasich recently signed and approved a new piece of legislature that is attached to anti-abortion policies. Part of this budget offers more federal funding to anti-abortion centers versus abortion advocacy groups such as Planned Parenthood. Another part of this bill specifically bans non-hospital surgical facilities from, “partnering with public hospitals for transfer agreements.”

Celeste Glasgow Ribbins, an Ohio spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood, is quoted as saying that, “barring Planned Parenthood from drafting agreements with public hospitals would force the health care provider to seek agreements with private hospitals, which are often affiliated with religious groups that oppose abortion.”

These new and arguably one-sided laws should be no surprise to Ohioans. In 2012, Ohio was the first U.S. state to try to pass a law that would ban abortions if a fetal heartbeat was heard. Though the proposal was rejected, a law has passed that, “requires doctors to search for a heartbeat and inform women seeking abortions if they find one.”

North Carolina has also passed similar laws and has recently proposed another that would, “require the physician to remain present with the patient throughout the procedure, whether surgical or medical (drug-induced).”

Supporters of the proposal say that the purpose is to offer a sense of protection to the patient as well as to avoid unlicensed and illegal abortions.

Opponents, like Melissa Reed of Planned Parenthood of North Carolina, say that it is yet another way for abortions to become significantly more difficult to obtain and complete. As Reed points out, both surgical and medial abortions can take multiple days to complete, which could potentially require the physician to be present each day.

In protest of their states’ various restrictive policies relating to abortion and much more, thousands of North Carolinians have gathered in front of the North Carolina General Assembly building for the past eleven Mondays, otherwise known as, “Moral Mondays.”

As these gatherings have increased in popularity, thousands of people now gather each week to voice their opinions and conduct open dialogue in the hopes that awareness will be raised and appropriate actions will be taken in their state’s courthouses.

In Texas, Senator Wendy Davis tried to do the same. On June 25, she filibustered for almost 11 hours opposing a plethora of, as she says, “severe restrictions on the ability of women…to receive reproductive and other crucial health-care services.”

The bill Davis protested included banning abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, which was motivated in part by, “disputed research” claiming fetuses are able to feel pain at the 20 week mark of a pregnancy. Additionally, the bill would prompt the closure of 37 women’s health clinics in the state, leaving only 5 open facilities.

Despite overwhelming support from Davis’ colleagues and people across the world, the bill was passed on July 12 and was signed into Texas law by Governor Rick Perry today, July 18.

Firstly, it is mindboggling that an actual branch of a state government would compose and actually pass a law based on research that was still unconfirmed, ambiguous, or unclear in any way.

Second, it is frightening that issues of abortion and women’s rights are being decided across the country by politically-active males who have not yet been able to grasp the concept of separation of church and state, especially in regards to abortion. According to Davis, approximately 25,000 American women, 30 percent of them being minors, are impregnated by rape or incest. These women, many of them being minors, have absolutely no control over their pregnancy.

And yet what is even sadder is the fact that women across this supposedly “free” country are still fighting for the rights over their own bodies. Unfortunately, this fight reflects a male dominated society that still exists, even with all the significant progress women have made.