In Defense of Bodily Autonomy

I’m tired.

No, I mean I’m really tired.

I’m so sick and tired of always feeling like my rights over decisions I make for my own health and well-being are under attack.

The United States House of Representatives passed a bill on October 3rd that criminalizes abortions performed after 20 weeks, with a few exceptions (how nice of them). It’s called the “Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act” and it’s one small step toward taking away a woman’s right to control her own body.

They want to act like it’s a bill based on hard science, but that’s not true at all. This bill is based on fake science. Peer-reviewed studies about fetal development find a consensus that neural receptors are not developed enough to feel "pain" until about 24 to 27 weeks. Those that seek to restrict and eliminate abortion cherry pick these studies and take findings out of context to manufacture scientific conclusions that support their extremist position on women's reproductive issues. As usual, it's an attack on women's autonomy based on lies.

So, let’s have a little conversation about bodily autonomy, shall we?

Last week I posted the link to an article about this bill on my Facebook page – also known as the place honest and open discourse has gone to die. A man I went to high school with had a strong pro-life reaction. I explained that bodily autonomy should be an important issue to everyone and he, after inserting the words “murdered child” and “pro-abortion” into the conversation, told me that he wished unborn children were given the same courtesy.

My answer to that? They are.

I’ve carried and given birth to two babies in my life and I love them dearly. But they were there with my express permission. At the end of the day, a fetus is using someone else’s body. Under the principles of bodily autonomy, they’re there because you allow them to be – they have consent. If I deny or withdraw my consent for them to keep using my body, then I have the right to remove them. Pretty simple.

The fetus has the same rights as I do because I can’t use someone else’s body to live without their permission. A person can legally deny me the use of their body. In that sense, we’re all on a level playing field, fetus or not.

When someone makes the argument that a fetus has the right to my body, despite my wishes, then they’re doing two things:

  1. They are granting that fetus more rights to another person’s body than any born person.
  2. They’re giving pregnant women fewer rights to their body than a corpse. Because you cannot be forced to give another person blood, organs, or tissue even when you’re dead.

As a woman, I am perfectly capable of making challenging medical and moral decisions privately. Anything trying to take those decisions away from me is misogynistic. If you need more evidence of that, look into maternal death rates in this country. They’re rising, and if the GOP has its way, they’ll keep going up.

Ladies, this is a fight for our lives and our ability to control our own destiny. Our sisters that fought so hard to give us the vote 100 years ago didn’t do that so we could roll over now and let them take away our healthcare and our ability to have dominion over our own bodies. They probably didn’t even do it so we could argue politics with strangers on the internet, yet here we are.

I hope you’ve contacted your representatives in the House and Senate about this bill. I hope my Senator and Representative recognize my name by now – and I hope there’s an eye roll accompanying it because then I’ll know my job as a disgruntled citizen is being done right.