While the recent information about the potential repeal of Roe v. Wade and the state of abortion rights in this country is certainly disturbing, to those who have been paying attention it is not the least bit shocking. Back in August 2021, Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barett declined to block a vaccine mandate at Indiana University after a group of students argued that the mandate infringed on their rights to bodily autonomy. While the majority of liberals, shrouded in COVID news, saw this as a sign that Justice Barett may vote in favor of more stringent COVID policies, others saw a much darker threat looming. Judge Barett did not just vote to block a vaccine mandate, she voted against bodily autonomy. This was simply the first indication of her stance on individual freedom, medical rights, and subsequently, abortion. While Justice Barrett may be a woman, her stance on these issues reflects the patriarchal white entitlement that permeates every facet of women’s health care and our rights to bodily autonomy.
While this phenomenon certainly exists from the moment of our birth, for most women we become aware of this entitlement as we enter puberty. From the cat-calls we get across the street from men three times our age, to inappropriate touches and stares from our male classmates, we are conditioned to learn that our bodies are not truly our own from a very young age. By the time we are taught about sex education and our changing bodies, we have already been sexualized for years.
When it comes to sex education, rarely we are lucky enough to attend a school that teaches sex is for more than just producing offspring. We are taught that if we are not ready to raise a man’s children, then we are not ready for sex. We are taught that sex is painful, and almost never are we taught about the female orgasm, because our orgasms don’t relate to procreation. Also, teen pregnancy is still too common in the United States, especially in rural areas where sex education is limited or non-existent besides the religious preaching of abstinence until marriage. Access to birth control is already limited in these areas, but now that the Supreme Court has leaked their decision regarding Roe v Wade, a number of states have begun considering bills that would criminalize birth control. According to the Pew: “This month, Idaho state Rep. Brent Crane, Republican chair of the powerful House State Affairs Committee, said he would hold hearings on legislation banning emergency contraceptives and possibly IUDs as well.” We currently live in a world where men who have physically violated women's bodies have the greatest power to create legislature on women’s bodies (with both Judge Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh having sexual harassment/ assault allegations against them), and while putting more women in positions of power may seem like the easy answer, Justice Coney-Barett is living proof that women, especially white women can still propogate male entitlement and violence.
While one of the most preached arguments for abortion revolves around rape, incest, and other non-consensual situations in which someone might find themselves pregnant, there is still violent male entitlement in forcing a woman to carry a child for any reason, even if it was from a consensual sexual encounter. We are not incubators - we are humans, and this blatant objectification of a woman in favor of a life that does not even exist yet is just another example of how we do not own our own bodies. They have always been property of the patriarchy, and this situation only amplifies our awareness of that fact.
In a previous issue of the Insurgent, I went in depth into the technocratic birthing systems and medical misogyny in the United States. However, those topics have more relevance than ever in a society that forces women to give birth. Many people fail to consider that birth, especially in the United States, places women in incredible danger, including death. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of higher GDP countries, due to the routinization of c-sections, and the general surgicalization of the birthing process in the country. Expecting a woman to carry an unwanted child to term can be a death sentence, especially in a country that has no intention of supporting that woman or her child after birth.
This has never been about saving the lives of children. If it was, the U.S. would have social systems in place to support mothers and children after birth. This is, and always has been about, male fucking entitlement.