From the March-April 2021 issue of News & Letters
Whenever a women’s bodily integrity is violated, that is violence. Forced pregnancy is nine months to a lifetime of violence and often includes women dying.
WHEN ABORTION IS ILLEGAL, WOMEN DIE
In Malawi, where abortion is only legal to save a woman’s life, over 141,000 self-induced or back-alley abortions are taken by desperate women every year. Over 12,000 of them die. The toll of forced pregnancy is also seen as Malawi has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world. In Venezuela it is not laws that lead to back-alley or self-induced abortions and the thousands of deaths that follow, it is poverty and how in this failed state run by a dictator, affordable birth control has disappeared.
In the U.S. the violence is seen at clinic doors with fanatics screaming “murder” in desperate women’s faces or in legislation like the proposed law in Tennessee that wants to give the man who impregnates a woman—even if by rape—the right to stop her from getting an abortion. Or the one in South Carolina that would require health-care providers to report the name of the raped woman or the girl who was impregnated by incest to the police if she wanted an abortion. Or the one in Ohio forcing a woman to choose burial or cremation of the aborted fetal tissue.
There are more, all of them outrageous, demeaning, shaming and completely unnecessary for a woman’s health. In fact, they make women’s health much worse, as did the Supreme Court’s recent decision forcing women to go in person to get the pills that will induce an abortion, rather than via telemedicine. The pills are extremely safe. Getting them in person in the middle of a pandemic is not. The ruling is right-wing fascist policy, not medicine.
The successful fightback against forced pregnancy is seen in Poland and Argentina. Women in Honduras have only been made more militant by the country’s enshrining a total abortion ban in their constitution that has no exceptions even to save the woman’s life. Countries that are abandoning anti-abortion laws are doing so because for decades they have seen the countless deaths, the destruction of families, the misery and increased poverty that forced pregnancy causes. It has to stop.