A Gay Man Argues for Women’s Rights
It was Mark Twain who once famously said: “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.” With that in mind, can you determine which of the following headlines is from the satirical news Web site The Onion and which is a genuine news headline?
• “Doctor Gets Court Order to Confine Pregnant Woman Against Her Will”
• “New Law Requires Women to Name Baby, Paint Nursery Before Getting Abortion”
If you guessed that “Doctor Gets Court Order” is a real headline and “New Law Requires Women to Name Baby” is a satirical, fake headline, you are correct. If you guessed that both stories — both real and fake — reflect the struggle women continue to face when it comes to reproductive rights, you are also correct.
I recently read Steven Levitt’s well-known book Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. In it, he famously — and controversially —hypothesized that legal abortion reduces crime, citing the decrease in crime 20 years after the passage of Roe v. Wade. His book added more kindling to what had been a decades-long firestorm of a debate, even if he did so in his own dispassionate, socioeconomic way.
Why, in the 37 years since women have had the right to legal abortions and the nearly 90 years that women have had the right to vote, do the rights of women continue to come under attack with such ferocity and frequency? As the non-satirical story “Doctor Gets Court Order to Confine Pregnant Woman Against Her Will” explains, a doctor forced a pregnant woman into bed rest at a hospital in order to “protect” her unborn child, despite her very real fears about how she would care for her two toddler-aged children. And then only this past week, the man accused of killing George Tiller — one of the few late-term abortion doctors in the United States — was found guilty of Tiller’s death.
The story from The Onion doesn’t seem that far from reality, does it?
These may be only two rare cases of individuals taking extreme actions in order to control women’s power to make their own decisions, but they reflect a powerful and growing voice in the United States. Just as the election of President Obama brought about a wave of anti-Obama citizens suddenly afraid of “socialism,” so too has the liberalization of women’s rights brought about a wave of citizens who are increasingly against giving women the right to make decisions for themselves.
Most people would agree — including those who believe that Obama is secretly a “socialist” — that the best people to make decisions for their respective lives are themselves and not the government. Why then, do many of these supposed Libertarians and Republicans, who believe that the government should not interfere in the personal decisions of ordinary Americans, vote for representatives who do the very opposite?
Consider the fact that although approximately 51 percent of the population of the United States is female, only 17 percent of the U.S. Senators are female (17 women), and only 17.2 percent of the members of the House of Representatives are female (75 women). Despite making up half of the population, American women are represented in Congress by men who, regardless of whether they do or do not understand women’s rights, are men.
I would be wary if I was told that a panel of politically-minded women was to make a decision regarding my circumcision. Sorry ladies, but my penis is my property. It’s understandable then why many women are wary of their male elected representatives sitting in cigar smoke-filled rooms as they sip brandy and decide whether or not a woman should be able to make her own choices. It’s understandable then, why many are angry at Sen. Ben Nelson (who has a long history of opposing abortion rights) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (who, worse, is my senator), for introducing an anti-abortion amendment last year in a health care bill.
A close friend whom I’ve known for nearly 20 years confided to a few months ago that she’d had an abortion. She said it was one of the most difficult decisions she had ever made, but she truly and honestly believes it was the right one. I can’t say I agree or even disagree with her, because I’m a man and will never find myself in such a difficult circumstance. I have my opinion about abortion, but I don’t believe that my opinions should impact women’s decisions, anymore than Senators Nelson and Hatch should.
Let’s leave those decisions up to women.