Why People Like Donald Trump Can’t Be In Charge Of Your Right to Contraceptive

When I was younger, my parents impressed upon me the notion of gender equality. I grew up believing that not only was I as good as any boy, but I was his equal. Then again, I went to an all girl’s school, so what else was there to think? I got my first dose of reality in high school. The all boy’s school across the street had nicer buildings, harder classes, and most of the boys who went there knew it. They were smug. They said sexist things. There was a joke that circled around our schools that went something like this, “How many Roland Park girls does it take to screw in a lightbulb?” The answer was none. They made their boyfriends do it for them.

At the time, that joke didn’t hurt. At the time I didn’t even consider myself a feminist. Instead, I considered myself anti-feminist. I believed there was nothing left to fight for, and that our focus as women should be put on creating harmony with the coarser gender. After all, like my parents taught me, I was already equal to the boys around me, so why should I spend my time fighting to have more rights and opportunities?

Then I grew up.

“A woman should always have the right to choose what she does with her body. It is frustrating that this needs to be said, repeatedly. On the scale of relevance, public approval or disapproval of a woman’s choices should not merit measure”

As part of the Affordable Care Act, it has been mandated that women have access to recommended preventive services, including contraceptive services, at no additional cost. Except if you’re a religious organization, and then it’s totally okay to opt out of offering those series. What this says about the inalienability of women’s rights is deeply troubling.  Are we really to believe that an individual organization’s religious beliefs are more important than a woman’s right to choice?

Any country where a group of men decide that a woman’s body is their legislative battleground is not a country where gender equality has been achieved. Whether or not legislation is passed, or simply debated about, the fact of the matter is that reproductive freedom is clearly negotiable.

As Roxane Gay writes in her 2014 collection of essays Bad Feminist, “A woman should always have the right to choose what she does with her body. It is frustrating that this needs to be said, repeatedly. On the scale of relevance, public approval or disapproval of a woman’s choices should not merit measure.”

“Restricting reproductive freedom is all fine and good until it’s your own daughter who gets knocked up.”

Even though we’ve come so far with the Affordable Care Act, in other ways, it’s just a bone that the government has dropped to sate our collective hunger for protection under the law. Since 2010, there have been 282 new abortion restrictions, 51 of which were made in the first half of this year.  14 states require women to make two trips to the doctor in order to get an abortion, 35 states require women to receive counseling before they obtain the procedure, with 28 of those states requiring women to wait at least 24 hours before scheduling an appointment.

Although I was raised in a household that told me I was equal to men in every way, over the years I’ve had countless fights with my father about a woman’s right to terminate a pregnancy. In the past, I’ve walked away from these fights feeling victorious, after rendering my father speechless with the easy blow of making the situation personal. If I got pregnant tomorrow, I would get an abortion, and even my conservative parents agree that would be the best decision. Restricting reproductive freedom is all fine and good until it’s your own daughter who gets knocked up.

I haven’t achieved any victory with my parents, just like women haven’t achieved any victory with the government at large.  I shouldn’t have to explain to my father why birth control or abortion is necessary, and neither should American women. Our bodies should not fall under the jurisdiction of government control.  We shouldn’t have to fight for something that should be our inalienable right.


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