I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the two congruous civil wars being fought in this country: the War on Women and the War on Moms.
The wars seem to have escalated as of late, with both the GOP and Democrats claiming attacks on the female race are a critical issue in this election.
And critical they are. Buzz words aside, the discourse surrounding women’s health is the most disappointing aspect of the 2012 elections. While Republican “gaffes” – which include claiming rape as a gift from God and mysterious science explaining how women’s bodies shut down in “legitimate rape” – bring a twisted hilarity to the issue, the fact of the matter is women’s bodies are being used as political talking points.
What’s up in the air in this election will physically affect many women. I don’t think a lot of political commentators comprehend the physical results of policy. Take for instance Wisconsin’s own heartthrob, Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis. While I credit him for never flip-flopping on women’s health like his running mate, my compliments stop there. Ryan has zero tolerance for abortions of any kind and has time and time again voted against Planned Parenthood funding for services that have nothing to do with politicized issues, like cervical and breast cancer screenings. While his P90X muscles may make some swoon, I for one find his disrespect for women’s health anything but attractive.
Then comes the issue of personhood. Former Gov. Mitt Romney, R-Mass., and Ryan both support a personhood initiative that could mean legal repercussions for taking Plan B. Personhood would mean abortions would be counted as murders, so women could serve time simply for seeking sovereignty over their bodies. It could also lead to the banning of in vitro fertilization. That means if a woman sought pregnancy through in vitro, she would be breaking the law, and a woman seeking to abort a fetus would be the same kind of criminal. Clearly there’s some flawed logic behind their understanding of personhood.
The funny thing is, Ryan and Romney say time and time again government needs to stay out of a lot of American affairs. Apparently that slogan stops short when it comes to our ovaries, ladies. Repealing meaningful strides that have been made in women’s health under the guise of debt reduction is not only morally deplorable but an infringement on a woman’s right, not only to choose whether she terminates a pregnancy or not, but to choose the terms on which she manages her own body.
President Barack Obama’s health care plan has made it clear being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition, and he made birth control affordable and available to millions of women who were unable to previously afford it. Romney’s answer is to bring that pre-existing condition philosophy back.
UW is a sexually open and active campus. We’re lucky to have services such as Sex Out Loud and University Health Services at our fingertips anytime a health issue arises. But if the GOP gets its way, when we leave the university and the cushioned health care available to us now, the reality of women’s health won’t be pretty. Imagine if after a drunken mistake you were unable to attain affordable Plan B. Imagine if simple tests for sexually transmitted diseases and breast cancer were a financial burden.
The right over a woman’s body is not something that should be decided on a ballot. It’s an undeniable and fundamental human right, and with the political wars heightening, we’re at risk of losing it.
Meher Ahmad (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a senior majoring in international studies and Middle Eastern studies.