By Ashley Williams
Georgia. Alabama. Missouri.
A horrific chain reaction of states banning women’s rights to have ownership over their bodies. All three states have passed bills within the last few weeks that would almost completely ban abortions. However, they are not the only states that have strived to eliminate women’s right to access safe abortions. States like Mississippi and Ohio have put forth similar legislation and have done similar things. These bills serve as an effort to ban abortions completely, specifically after the 6-8th week of pregnancy. This is before most women even realize they have become pregnant. I believe that these laws have nothing to do with protecting life, as they would want us to believe, and everything to do with designing a political agenda to overturn a critical ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973 that sets a precedent for abortion rights and the freedom of choice. The U.S. Supreme court decision establishes that a woman has the right to obtain an abortion before the end of her first trimester in pregnancy. Under these laws, their right to choose is taken away before they even realize a choice needs to be made.
I value life deeply. A month ago, my youngest nephew was born and he is the light of my life. I am grateful that my sister was able to weigh her options and have a choice in the matter. Without the fundamental right to choose, as a teen mother, who knows what kind of pressure and stress that could have put on her and her baby? Because of that choice, she was able to carry on in her pregnancy with a little more peace of mind and comfort. The decision was hers and hers alone. For that, I am grateful.
I consider myself an advocate of human rights and want to make this world become a better place so that each and every individual can have the quality of life that they deserve. Yet, our government has often shown us many times that they do not care about life. Hell, they don’t even care about birth. How can they care when so many women are dying at childbirth, and women of color, especially black women, experience a significantly higher maternal mortality rate? Regardless of access to health care and higher socioeconomic status, both black mothers and black babies are at profound risk of complications, birth defects, and death We know this, and we’ve seen the stories. But the government has ignored these facts. While my nephew is valued as a precious baby boy by the government now, I know that in 10-12 years, this may no longer be the case. Despite this, I stand by my belief that he deserves to be valued throughout his life.
Under these proposed laws, if a doctor is to perform an abortion procedure, it can be classified in some states as a felony and constitute a sentence of up to 99 years! Some explicitly state that the pregnancy cannot be terminated after 6-8 weeks, even if the pregnancy was caused by incest and/or rape. The only exception that exists in case of medical emergencies, but what exactly constitutes a medical emergency is unclear. Why should women have to wait for a medical emergency, despite knowing it may be unhealthy for them to carry? The other day, someone said to me, “Laws aren’t supposed to be fair; they aren’t designed to be fair.” I think that is wrong. It may naive to say, but this issue is unfair. If we remain complacent and blame the status quo without actually attempting to change, we are also a part of the problem.
We cannot ignore the fact that these laws are unconstitutional. It attacks a woman’s fundamental right to privacy, provided by the 14th Amendment. Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, we should be concerned about the state of our nation. We have jumped decades, and it is honestly scary. We should be disturbed by the fact that women could serve more time in prison than her rapist for receiving an abortion if her rapist even serves time at all. The state legislature’s actions tell us that women do no matter to them. We chip away at Title IX, we take away abortion rights, we pay women less, we tell women what they could and should do with their bodies. Where does it end? We should be concerned that white supremacy and misogyny only seems to deem women as second class citizens with no rights to make choices for themselves. Personally, I want the autonomy to make my own decisions, and to have full control over my body. I want that for every woman. We all deserve that and so much more. This is my body, my rights and I am going to fight for them. I hope you do too. I hope we all do.
Ashley Williams is a Contributing Writer for the Pedestal Project, LLC.