Reproductive rights for women are a constant source of debate amongst older, white, male officials. Politicians frequently deliberate, behind closed doors, the circumstances under which it is or isn’t okay for women to have and enjoy sexual intercourse.
False and baseless claims about abortion and birth control seem to permeate these disputes before sweeping across the nation — ultimately creating hazardous conditions for women.
Two current examples: the recent CDC announcement warning potentially pregnant women about fetal alcohol syndrome, as well as the about an indefinite pregnancy ban in many Latin American countries due to the Zika virus epidemic. It wasn’t the core information in these articles that really struck me, but the very intentional subtext.
The Center for Disease Control, a highly respected government institution, put out an infographic that listed risks that accompany drinking for women. This list included STDs, susceptibility to violence and unintended pregnancy, along with the explicit instruction to not enjoy both sex and alcohol at the same time if birth control is not involved.
The CDC seems to have forgotten three things:
One, it is common knowledge that drinking when you’re pregnant or trying to get pregnant is harmful to your fetus — the warning is required to be printed on all alcoholic drinks.
Two, alcohol does not cause STD’s, pregnancy, or violence; men and women without self control do.
Three, women do not live their entire lives around the possibility of becoming pregnant — our function on this earth is not solely to reproduce.
The CDC isn’t the only party guilty of viewing women as incubators.
Latin American countries, such as El Salvador and Columbia, have proclaimed unbinding bans on pregnancy until at least 2018 due to the widespread Zika outbreak. The catch is that, due to a heavy Catholic hand, birth control is largely unavailable and abortion is strictly illegal in these countries. Women are just supposed to not have sex, regardless of relationship status, until 2018.
While Latin-American countries are experimenting with new ways to prevent the virus from spreading, they aren’t focusing on the ones the virus is affecting: women.
Playing Dad and sending out a no-sex-order works just as effectively with Zika as it does with curbing teen pregnancy — not at all. The reality is women are just like men in that they will do what they want with their bodies, and if that means they want to have sex — they’re going to have sex.
Feminists worldwide have shared their outrage regarding both situations, and rightfully so. Women can not, and will not, live solely to give birth; we do not prescribe to the “what if” lifestyle when it comes to our reproductive systems.
Unlike food, uteruses are not intended to be regulated by the government — they belong to the human being they are attached to. Placing unfair and unrealistic restrictions on vaginas is not what women mean when they tell men to “go all out” on them.
Instead of pretending sex is a primarily reproductive deed, why can’t we drop the religious act and do what’s best for our people and give them birth control? The United Nations has stated abortion is a human right, so why can’t governments accept that? You don’t “agree” with abortion so you’re going to force a woman to birth a child with microcephaly? You want to please the Lord so badly that you won’t let young women prevent the pregnancy you’re going to shame them for?
Women don’t need a reason or a waiver to drink or stay sober, to have or deny sex, to keep or expunge a pregnancy. It’s our body, and therefore our personal choice. That’s as far as the debate should go.
We can no longer use faith-based, spiritual rhetoric to support an outdated pro-life agenda or justify creating a dangerous environment for females by denying them birth control.
Save the speeches, the lectures and the sermons on the immorality of abortion and sex out of wedlock for your prayers.
It’s 2016, and I cannot believe we still have to protest this.
Emily Himes, Contributing Columnist