Human Rights


I was going to write today about how I was so tired and burned out yesterday from the long hours I’ve been working. I was going to write about the progress I’ve been making on my projects.

I was going to write about how I finally saw the sun today.

None of that feels right today. Instead I will say this:

My heart goes out to all of the families and friends who lost someone today. My heart goes out to all the children who were traumatized.

I try not to be political on this blog, but sometimes events are too large to ignore. So I have to say this. We need some kind of gun control in this country. There is no reason to allow someone to so easily murder so many. There is no excuse for it and anyone who argues that it is necessary for people to own assault rifles and semi-automatic guns, even at the expense of the lives of innocent people should be ashamed.

I don’t feel like debating this either, because this isn’t theoretical. There are at least 26 people dead because of the easily accessible guns in this country. Yes, a man decided to use the gun, but what if it had been much harder to get one?

My closing thought on the matter is this: When I first saw the news story about the shooting, my initial gut reaction was “Oh God, another one? Not again.” That is so, so, so very wrong. The fact that we’ve gotten to the point where mass shootings feel common scares me.

I used to write about politics a lot, on a different blog back when I was in college. I had more time then, and I felt full of energy and ready to take on the world. Then I got completely burned out. I got tired of arguing over things. That’s not to say that I can’t tolerate opinions that aren’t my own, but it’s incredibly frustrating to write about something like women’s reproductive rights and never have the discussion move beyond “Sluts should close their legs!” or “What about choice for the menz!” when I was talking about forcible sterilizations or they hypocrisy of the Hyde Amendment.

But I really have to talk about the current climate in the United States regarding reproductive rights now. According to the Guttmacher Institute a full 55% of women now live in states that are hostile to abortion rights and a record 92 different provisions restricting access to abortion were passed at the state level in 2011. You can see from the above graph, that women who live in abortion-friendly states, but the “middle-ground” states are shrinking.

2012 has not fared much better. Every time I turn around, it seems like another state is trying to force women to go through some kind of waiting period or mandatory ultrasound or to outlaw abortion at earlier and earlier dates. Worse still, Arizona is attempting to pass a law allowing doctors to withhold information from pregnant patients, all in the name of preventing abortion. This means that even if the woman has a condition that could severely disfigure or kill her, or if her fetus has severe defects, the doctor would have no legal obligation to tell her. The irony, of course, is that the same people behind this law are people who argue in favor of mandatory ultrasounds and forcing the patient to view the ultrasound and listen to a doctor’s description of said ultrasound because “a woman should have all the information about what she is doing, so she can make an informed choice.” I guess informed choice only applies to the choice to not have an abortion. Informed choice apparently isn’t important if the woman might die unless she has an abortion.

And I’m not going to get too much into the idea that employers should be able to control what an employee’s earned healthcare covers, except to say that healthcare is compensation for work you do as an employee. It is wages, so the idea that your employer should be able to deny you coverage for something that is against their personal beliefs is ridiculous. It is really the equivalent to an employer objecting to you spending your wages on alcohol because they are Mormon. I actually have a lot of thoughts about the folly and hypocrisy and abuses of religious exemptions, but that’s another post for another day. I’ll just leave the contraception situation as an example of yet another attack on women’s health and reproductive rights.

Look, this is going to sound simplistic, but women are fully realized, autonomous people who are capable of make their own decisions about what they want. They don’t need an ultrasound to know that they are pregnant now and won’t be pregnant after they have an abortion. And sometimes, like in this case the law is particularly cruel, and rubbing salt into an already incredibly painful wound. But even if the woman isn’t terminating a wanted pregnancy, sometimes ending an unwanted pregnancy is a difficult decision (and sometimes it’s not. Women are all different and have different feelings about things–imagine that!) and putting more emotional and financial hurdles in the way is dick thing to do. And even if the ultrasound changes a woman’s mind and opts not to get an abortion, this does not change the situation that made her seek one in the first place. She will still have the same financial, emotional, medical, relationship, work, and/or physical troubles that made her not want to be pregnant in the first place.

I trust women. I trust women to make their own medical decisions about reproduction and pregnancy and how to handle that. It’s been said over and over again, but it has to be repeated until people get it, but the only people who should be involved in a women’s reproductive health decisions are the woman herself and her doctor. Everyone else should just butt out.