Joco 913

Dear conservatives: Women have a right to decide what to do with their bodies

Several hundred spirited protestors marched through the Country Club Plaza Sunday, May 19, 2019, in response to the near-total abortion ban passed last week by Missouri legislators. The group then gathered at the J.C. Nichols fountain to hear speakers.
Several hundred spirited protestors marched through the Country Club Plaza Sunday, May 19, 2019, in response to the near-total abortion ban passed last week by Missouri legislators. The group then gathered at the J.C. Nichols fountain to hear speakers. File photo

Mostly men, elected by voters in conservative-majority states, are passing laws to eventually outlaw abortion by forcing it up the line to the Supreme Court, where Brett Kavanaugh gleefully waits for his moment in the sun.

As a child raised in a Catholic household consisting of nine humans, eight of whom were female, I call this meeting to order.

We had family meetings that brought topics to the table, took them apart, examined them, and held the odd vote. Sometimes, someone was disappointed.

The first order of business is a very obvious, but important, statement of fact. Men can help make a baby, but they can’t give birth. That is the kernel of truth that gives this argument its “us and them-ness.” We are never going to agree on whether it’s fair, because there’s no way it is.

The Roe v. Wade decision (1973, 7-2 vote) and subsequent law originated when I was a teenager in backward, flyover Tulsa. “Why does this irritate men so much? They don’t give birth,” I was able to think.

Only women can produce, grow, deliver and feed offspring from our own body. That’s the basis of the privacy argument in Roe.

I have argued with plenty of men who claim that they should have a say about whether or not an abortion occurs. I agree that they should have an opinion, and then they should go away if they don’t like the decision I make about whether or not I want to be a parent.

The second order of business is to say to hell with who is right about when life begins.

No one really knows. Every single example given is a hypothesis, an educated guess. What we do know, however, is that we either want to be a parent, or we don’t. Now that’s a conundrum that has been researched for probably thousands of years, mainly by curious middle children such as myself, who ask lots of questions about life in general, and birth order in particular. There is no undisputed conclusion, by the way.

I do not care about the religious right, who cynically produce scientific measurements to claim that they know when life begins. These are people who think Earth is a few thousand years old, yet they’re experts on the moment of conception. Please.

I don’t respect conservatives who cherry pick laws to control our bodies, yet will not fund early-childhood education and day care, sex education in schools, contraception or reproductive services, all of which affect children after they’re born.

The third and last order of business is to confirm that pregnancy affects an individual. She might have a partner who contributes not only a chromosome, but also support, love, shopping skills and funny stories. No matter what other circumstances of a pregnancy, there’s one way in, and one or two ways out, and that’s what we deal with the rest of our lives.

Empathy goes just so far.

Oh, and a rapist is not a father. He’s a criminal.

Whether she’s a teenager who can’t keep her room picked up, or a 35-year old who didn’t plan to have more children, this decision is nothing less than a life-changing, personal, yet earth-shattering one.

And after hundreds of years of not being allowed to have a legal say in whether or not we want to parent, the United States Supreme Court ruled that it was time (after much demonstration that we do care about having control over our own bodies) that women have access to safe and legal abortion.

Meeting adjourned. Go out and protest. We’re not done.

Contact Ellen Murphy at murphysister04@gmail.com

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