Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Don't Tell Me What to Do: Abortion Rights, Teenage Pregnancy, and The Battleground of a Woman's Body

Posted By on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 9:45 AM

No, my body is not any of your business, you creep.
  • No, my body is not any of your business, you creep.

In the lastest news addressing what a woman can and can't decide to do with her own body, the governor of Ohio recently signed into law a bill which will, among other things, "strip funding from rape crisis centers that give their clients any information about abortion services, impose harsh restrictions on abortion clinics that will force many of them to shut down, and require doctors to give women seeking abortion information about the presence of a 'fetal heartbeat.'” And then, of course, Governor Rick Perry of Texas is still attempting to pass the same restrictive legislation that failed last week due to the inspiring filibuster of State Senator Wendy Davis. Despite the fact that thousands of pro-choice activists protested in Austin on Monday, there is a good chance that the legislation will pass eventually, especially considering that the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, had this to say: "We’re not going to get it back from the House within filibuster range. We’re going to make sure that we’ve got plenty of time, and no human being can talk for two weeks.” That's right. "We're going to make sure...no human being can talk for two weeks." So not only are Dewhurst, Perry, and the rest of the conservative members of the Texas State legislature trying to silence women when it comes to both reproductive freedoms and government participation, but they are outright crowing about it. How much more patronizing and despicable can these men be?

Well, plenty. Plenty more despicable. Obviously. Just last week, Rick Perry, speaking at the National Right to Life Convention (where he incidentally also said "no life is trivial in God's eyes" just hours after an execution took place), decided to attack Wendy Davis personally, saying, "Even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters." That's right. Perry—a man who can't even count to three—presumed to say that a Harvard Law graduate "hasn't learned from her own example." This guy. This guy!

Davis responded by saying that Perry's statement “is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds. They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view.” And, of course, she is absolutely right. Perry's remarks are indicative of nothing more than a man who lives life with blinders on, a condescending man who sees the issue of abortion in such a binary way that he doesn't even believe it should be an option in cases of rape or incest. But beyond that, Perry's remarks also betray how little he understands about what it actually means to be a mother—teenage or otherwise—in a state (and country, frankly) that doesn't provide adequate support for parents in lower income brackets. Perry's implication that because Davis, who is by all accounts an extraordinary woman, was able to go from being a single mother to a graduate of Harvard Law School, then anyone can do it. But he doesn't take into account the fact that, when Davis was beginning her education, there was more government money for community colleges and students could take out loans without tens of thousands of dollars hanging in debt over their heads, and, oh yeah, Planned Parenthood funding hadn't been so completely dismantled that low-income women have practically no options for affordable healthcare while pregnant.

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