Several days ago, I published a Daily Kos diary in which I discussed my view that the passing of House Bill 59 would constitute an ideologically regressive move for the country. After publishing that piece, I have given much consideration to the subject of abortion and would like to submit several suppositions here:
1. Although I am unequivocally pro-choice, I find some of the arguments designed to advance the cause inefficacious or inaccurate. For example, the notion that forcing a woman to bring a baby to term is a form of punishment for having sex seems a bit far-fetched to me. As a feminist, I am very familiar with and supportive of rhetoric designed to unveil how androcentric thought and praxis works to constrain and control female sexuality in intellectually and emotionally stifling ways. Nonetheless, I do not believe that the majority of pro-life advocates advance their own ideological agenda with the explicit intent to punish women for having intercourse. Rather, it seems that their primary purpose is to promote the notion that abortion constitutes murder and should thus be illegal.
2. I do believe in the rights of the father. However, what these rights are-and where they end-remains a very ambiguous and unsettling concept in my mind. Although it is very evident that both men and women play a primary role in the conception process, it is also quite plain that the work of child-bearing and child-rearing still tends to fall in the lap of the mother. This fact problematizes my ability to place more primacy on the rights of the father than the will and well-being of the mother.
3. As with almost any theme under the sun, the subject of abortion is fundamentally connected to the issue of money. And-with respect to abortion-the individuals who are left economically disempowered by its delegalization are poor women. This reality becomes plain upon consideration of the fact that delegalizing abortion in one state means that a woman who determines to have one must travel in order to have the procedure performed legally (and safely). For low-income women and those living in abject poverty, this travelling constitutes an economically taxing-and perhaps impossible-endeavor.
(Discourse regarding the economic ramifications that the delegalization of abortion can have on poor women should not be limited to the termination of a pregnancy. It should also encompass how women who are poor often have limited access to the emergency contraception that can prevent an unwanted pregnancy. Yesterday I read bits and pieces of a very telling article from the Ms. blog entitled “Emergency Contraception Comes With A Brand-Name Price.” In it, author Danielle Nelson discussed the fact that Teva Pharmaceuticals had gained the right to sell its emergency contraception pill Plan B One-Step over the counter until April 2016. Moreover, there would be no age restrictions attached to selling the pill. The cost of the contraception? About $50. For low-income women who deem this option a bit high, affordable contraception-such as the generic pills that sell for around $10 to $15 less-are a more feasible choice. The problem? The generic version of the pill can only be purchased with a prescription and by women who are 17 years old and up. The disparity between the two types of contraception-with respect to both cost and the fact that one requires a prescription attained from the doctor-reveals the fact that ending an unwanted pregnancy can be much more difficult for poor women than other members of the group.)
Although the arguments listed above certainly don’t constitute an exhaustive analysis of an important issue that has once again gained primacy in American political discourse, I hope that they function to expand the shape and substance of the current debate.