One thing I have learned along this path called life is that decisions made from a place of fear are often regrettable.
This is a great sentence; don’t you wonder where I’m going with it? Am I going to crack open my past and tell you a deep dark secret? Nope. But I am going to do my part to shine a pinhole of light on this current rush to make abortion illegal.
That is what I see happening in legislatures throughout our more conservative states. Men are scared. Women are on the threshold of equality, and men are afraid to move one step to the left and make room for us at the top. Think about it. It took a smear campaign, Russian intervention, a closet full of skeletons, and the poster child for male audacity, narcissism and bigotry to defeat the first democratically nominated female candidate for president. You may not have liked her, but she had all the education, credentials and experience that would have ensured a win for democrats had she been a man. We have elected many flawed men to the office of president, but a female candidate will have to be near perfect to pass muster. In our current culture of male dominated fear, the fact that she is a woman, and wants to be in control of decision making and progress, is any female candidates’ Achilles heel.
The current abortion legislation on the dockets of a growing number of state legislatures has very little to do with medical intervention or values. At its core, this political fight is about power. Men have it, women want it, and some men are scared as hell. Throughout our history the power of women has been limited to domestic, educational and nursing pursuits. “If Mama is happy, everyone is happy” is a condescending trope that reflects where a woman’s power is most culturally acceptable. This seems outdated and other worldly to people who live in partnerships based on equality and respect and who work in careers where men and women are both welcomed and rewarded. However, the headlines coming out of Alabama need to awaken us to the reality that not all Americans are walking the walk of “liberty and justice for all.”
If we let down our guard and think about it, this abortion issue becomes pretty transparent in its misogyny. If the true purpose of the recent wave of abortion legislation is truly and singularly meant to protect life, then where is the conservative call for access to birth control? One way to reduce abortions is to prevent them, but I don’t see any of this new legislation requiring sex education or free access to contraceptives. It takes two to tango, and men have easy access to condoms on the drug store shelf or in the vending machine at the bar restroom. Why then do women need a doctor’s appointment and a prescription that isn’t widely covered by insurance to do their part to avoid pregnancy? Why do men have easy access to safe and effective birth control and women don’t? Sure, women can buy condoms and many do. But doesn’t our culture still judge a woman for taking control of her body in this way? In many peoples’ eyes, men who carry condoms are prepared, but women are sluts. A recent conversation with a group of high school seniors confirmed this notion is still as true now as it was back in the 1980s when I was in college.
If this is all about men and their fear of powerful women, then what about Kay Ivey, the Republican governor who signed the Alabama abortion bill into law? What is in this fight for her? Power. She rose to power within the current male dominated system, and she wants to support the platform that will keep her there for another term. A woman who pledges to uphold the status quo is not a threat to powerful men. She too is afraid of how equality for all women would impact her station in life. Right now she is the first female Governor of Alabama, and legislating morality is her way of preserving her current leadership role in a very conservative state.
I wonder what will happen when a girlfriend, fiancé, or daughter of one of these powerful men becomes pregnant. If you are a person of means, you have choices. Canada or New York City are only an airplane ride away. A few days in a hotel, and an appointment with the right ob/gyn can and will eliminate an unwanted pregnancy for wealthy Alabamians. But in a state where almost 40 percent of the population is not white, annual salaries are lower than the national average, and 19 percent of Alabamians live in poverty – what will happen with those women? The 25 men who voted to make abortion illegal in Alabama don’t care about minorities or the poor, and I think that is the problem. In order to appeal to their base, men will continue to hold themselves up as pro-life and steeped in moral righteousness. By doing so they protect their power, but at the expense of true equality for women. The only public these elected officials are serving is themselves.