The lengths men will go to control women’s bodies

Former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Former governor of Arkansas Mike Huckabee addresses the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Opponents of abortion rights want you to think that their aggressive (and sometimes violent) activism is all in the interest of saving children. Of course, there is ample evidence that this isn’t the case–from their opposition to contraception to the lack of interest they have in supporting the children once they are born. Digging deeper into their attitudes reveals the serious objections they have to women acting as sexual beings and exerting their bodily autonomy. Control over our reproductive lives is essential to gaining political and cultural power, and a couple of recent news stories show the extreme lengths some men will go to stop it.

Alabama has a horrible record on reproductive rights, but they still manage to surprise me with their outlandishness. The latest infuriating move is to try to block a woman in prison from exercising her right to abortion by terminating her parental rights:

Got that? The state is attempting to strip her of her parental rights over a “child” that is not actually a born child yet and arguing that if she doesn’t have parental rights, she has no right to terminate the pregnancy. Apparently, the DA’s basis for terminating her parental rights is that she’s facing a charge of “chemical endangerment of a child” — by which they mean “unborn child.” In recent years, Alabama has used the chemical endangerment law to arrest dozens of pregnant women for using a controlled substance, but the Huffington Post reports that “this appears to be the first case of the state using the law to prevent an incarcerated woman’s abortion.”

In other words, the state is arguing that since this woman has “endangered” her fetus by using drugs, it should now effectively become a ward of the state, and therefore the state can do anything it wants—including forcing her to carry it to term against her will—to protect it. And it doesn’t have to end there: “Does the guardian ad litem say what food she eats, what vitamins she takes, what exercise she does and every other decision regarding the fetus?” asks the ACLU’s Randall Marshall.

It feels like there’s no proper response to that, except a long string of expletives.

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, desperate for attention in a crowded field, also recently laid out the extreme and illegal actions he would consider to block abortion rights:

Huckabee said he would “invoke the 5th and 14th amendments for the protection of every human being.” The Fifth Amendment states, “No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger.” This suggests a Hucakbee presidency would unilaterally make all abortion illegally by deeming all fetuses are people.

He repeated a conservative line that there is now scientific proof that “unborn babies are human beings,” and the Supreme Court may not have known that when they ruled on Roe v. Wade in 1973. Many anti-choicers have pointed to a recent study that said a small percentage of 22-week fetuses can survive outside the womb and have used that as justification for earlier and earlier abortion bans.

“I will not pretend there is nothing we can do to stop this,” Huckabee said. When a reporter asked if hew would use federal troops or the FBI to this end, he said, “We’ll see if I get to be president.”

Huckabee, who idiotically said in the presidential debate that the role of the military is to “kill people and break things,” also apparently thinks their job is to violently stop women from exerting control over their own bodies and exercising their constitutional rights.

Huckabee and the county attorney general in Alabama are clearly overreaching, but it’s just another reminder that opponents of abortion rights will try just about anything to keep women from accessing this fundamental right. It’s all the more reason why the movement to protect women’s right to choose if, when and how to have children needs to be bold and aggressive.

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Author: Rebecca Griffin

I am a passionate advocate for progressive causes with over a decade of experience organizing for social change. That organizing experience informs the way I look at the world and the challenges we face in working toward social justice. I started Of Means and Ends to write about social issues I care about and share my thoughts on how we organize in a smart, strategic way. Please visit and join the conversation.

5 thoughts on “The lengths men will go to control women’s bodies”

  1. I just cannot wrap my head around why other people want to have a say what I do with my body in regards to my health or anything else for that matter. It feels like that people of a certain political party want to take us backwards 50 or 60 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Quite frankly, this debate shouldn’t exist during the 21st century. Is my country going to prioritize my health over an unborn fetus’ health? To me that’s insane.

    What’s even more insane is that all these outspoken Republicans are male. If you don’t have to carry a child, don’t even argue on the subject.

    Like

    1. It’s crazy that you have a Republican debate full of men who don’t blink an eye when one of them says he’d let a woman die rather than letting her have an abortion. I hope these comments get a lot more play over the next year, because people should understand just how extreme these men are.

      Like

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