Sexcapades: Loss of Abortion Begins Attack on Sexual Autonomy

Sexcapades

On this week’s edition of Sexcapades, in light of the recent events within Alabama, the topic of abortion and what’s next is discussed.

Originally, last week’s post was supposed to take a form of another theme. I had this strong, intuitive gut feeling that I should write a book review of Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice and talk about abortion. So I changed it. Last week, the most restrictive, oppressive and horrifying laws were passed in Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and Ohio. When media coined ‘heart beat bill’ was passed in Georgia I was sick to my stomach. Then when Alabama followed, I was enraged. 

Last Monday, I had this feeling that I should write another post about abortion and how important sexual autonomy as a human right. Whenever I began to write I all that would come out was anger and fear. Again on Tuesday, all I felt was fear. Fear for myself, my friends, my sisters, cousins, aunts. Fear for women at my school, in my community and women in the states where their choice, freedom and bodies were being stripped away from them. Wednesday, I meditated and I asked for clarity on what to do. When we fear something we give it power, we give it our energy. The energy we invest in fearing something is energy wasted when instead we can use that energy to fight something. It is Thursday that I am writing this and I know what to do. 

A 46-Year-Old Monumental Stride:

Roe v. Wadeis a law that was passed in 1973 in the height of the second-wave feminism movement. It was decided by the Supreme Court that the Constitution provides a “fundamental right to privacy” protecting “a woman’s right to an abortion prior to the viability of the fetus.” 

What does this mean? Let’s break it down. 

Fundamental right to privacy:

 “Fundamental right to privacy is listed under the Due Process Clause in the Fourteenth AmendmentDue Processoffers defense against the denial of life, liberty or property by the government. What is tricky and troubling about the Fourteenth Amendment is that ‘privacy’ and ‘right to privacy’ is listed a “fundamental right,” yet personal autonomy is not.

Viability of the fetus:

Viability of the fetus is the age at which the fetus is able to survive outside the womb with medical assistance.  The Court decided that after the second trimester the fetus became viable. The third trimester begins around week 28 of a pregnancy and lasts until birth. Pregnancy usually last about 40 weeks. The Court ruled the state could regulate or ban abortions after the second trimester with the exception of preserving “the life and health of the mother.”

Lives at Stake: The threat to Roe

Since the ruling of Roe, women’s sexual autonomy and right to privacy has been constantly under attack. Not ever 50 years later, five states have passed regressive, oppressive and restrictive abortion bills the nation has ever seen. As a country we are regressing and it is time we do something about it.

April 11: Ohio Governor Mike DeWine signed a bill that would prevent abortions to be performed after the fetal heartbeat has been detected. The heartbeat is detected at six weeks before most women even know they are pregnant. According to Guttmacher Institute, Ohio is the third state to pass an abortion ban bill with Kentucky and Mississippi being the first two. This ban will start in July of this year

May 7: Georgia’s Governor Brian Kemp signs the nation’s most restrictive abortion ban. Similar to Ohio, women in Georgia cannot seek out abortions after six weeks. The most gruesome part is that the bill provides punishment for women who seek out and those who perform abortions. Abortion Practitioners can face up to 10 years in prison that is more time in jail than Brock TunerShane Piche, and Michael Wysolovski.

May 15: Alabama’s Governor Kay Ivey signs a similar bill that punishes abortion practitioners with life in prison. Again, more time in prison than Jacob Walter AndersonAustin James Wilkerson, and  Benjamin Lawrence Petty. As if this bill couldn’t get more disturbing, the amendment for the exemption of rape and incest failed 11-21. 

Is there more that can be done? While access to abortion is amazing there are a few more things that should be included in this conversation: Primarily, sex education & health care.

Action we need to take:

Our country loves to oppress, control and abuse the women who live and step foot in it. Women of color have known this since the dawn of time. These laws hit their communities just as hard, if not harder than others. This is where there is less access to quality health care and coverage, lower education, and higher poverty rates.

Every day we are getting closer to a reality similar to the Handmaid’s Tale.It is horrifying that our society is mimicking a piece of fiction, like it was meant to warn us about the dangers that lie ahead. With that being said it is not the time to call for a sex strike; It is time to share stories and advocate for safer practices, better sex education programs, and improved access to health care. All the policies that Republicans and “pro-lifers” are against.

While these bills are detrimental let’s not forget about the conservative leaning Supreme Court and the accused sexual predator Justice Brett Kavanaugh. At the end of the day, Roe needs serious protection.

Written by: Julie Cappiello

Sexcapades: Review of Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice

Sexcapades

Sexcapades reviews Dr. Willis Parker’s Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice, followed by a discussion on abortion.

Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice is a memoir outlining Dr. Willie Parker’s journey to becoming an abortion doctor and reproductive activist. Seamlessly blending his strong Christian beliefs, love for medical science and the philosophy that a woman’s body is her own, Dr. Parker eloquently encompasses what it means to be a Good Samaritan. 

As an African American growing up in the Deep South during the height of Civil Rights Movement, Dr. Parker’s words strongly imitate those of Dr. Martin Luther Kings—a role model of his. Dr. Parker’s rise from adversities like poverty, racism, and being raised by a single mother was extremely moving. His tenacity radiated throughout every word, sentence and chapter. There was not a time in reading this book where I did not feel moved or was awed in some way.

As I mentioned, Dr. Parker has faced a lot of adversities. He grew up in Wylam, Alabama in a small, impoverish neighborhood. Many people who grow up in communities like his do not see a way out. While, Dr. Parker had a lot of role models to look up to but he also faced a multitude of racism and community doubt that he would succeed. For example, Dr. Parker was told by a guidance counselor to become a carpenter because he said he liked to work with his hands. Despite his doubtful environment, Dr. Parker was consistently dedicated to his religion and education. He has graduated from Brea College in Kentucky and has received degrees from the University of Iowa College of Medicine, the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Michigan. 

I was initially intrigued by how Dr. Parker’s Christian faith would factor into his profession and activism.

To be honest, before reading the book I thought Dr. Parker would completely abandon his faith when he began his practice of abortions and activism. I scolded myself after reading the book because that is a very ignorant ideology. Dr. Parker’s religion is not separate from his line of work and activism. It fuels and empowers it. Dr. Parker and his book showed me how he uses Christianity to empower women, their sexuality and dreams. His interpretation of his religion is beautiful, eye-opening and definitely differs from the way ‘pro-lifers,’ or antis as he calls them, use Christianity to push their controlling and hatred agenda. 

What I loved a lot about the book is Dr. Parker’s inclusion of stories of women he has encounter in his line of work. It is what I found to be the most de-stigmatizing of the entire book. These women have dreams to be successful too. According to Dr. Parker’s book, most women who are seeking abortions are women who come from a low socioeconomic background. These are the women who have to scrape every penny together to have an abortion. Their limited access to safe abortions is because they have limited access to good health care and insurance. Some women are likely to have no insurance at all, some have other children at home, some are beaten by their husbands and some are teenagers. What all of these women have in common is that they have dreams too, they have hopes, desires and realities.

Dr. Parker’s book puts it in perspective how detrimental restrictive abortion laws are to women who need them.

Dr. Parker calls out how unconstitutional U.S policies are on abortion and how lawmakers are shutting down abortion clinics making it harder for women to seek them out. Twenty-seven states in America have imposed waiting periods between twenty-four and seventy-two hours for women to get abortions. This waiting period is between the initial visit for counseling and consultation and the actual abortion appointment. Every minute a woman delays her abortion the price increases because she moves farther along in her pregnancy. Dr. Parker says policies like the waiting period is financially disabling women who may already be living under or around the poverty line. The book cites calculations from ThinkProgress that if a woman in Wisconsin wants to terminate a first trimester pregnancy after you factor in gas, taking off of work, child care expenses (if she has children at home), and the waiting period that it would cost her over one thousand dollars.

Financial instability causes a huge issue because some states may only allow first trimester abortions, thus, making it harder for women to receive an abortion. Due to the harsher and stricter policies being enacted by states some women are forced to bring a pregnancy to full term. These laws are robbing women of their reproductive freedom and possibly making them more financially unstable than they were before:

“According to data from Planned Parenthood, more than one third of women having abortions in the second trimester said they delayed because they needed time to raise the money.”

Dr. Willis Parker (102)

Mississippi has a ban on second trimester abortions, Dr. Parker tells a story of a young woman who was thirteen weeks pregnant and needed time to scrape together extra money. By the time he saw her again the gestational age of the fetus was sixteen weeks and one day. Dr. Parker was not able to perform an abortion because she was now in the second trimester of her pregnancy. The best he can do for women in this situation is inform them of other clinics that are allowed to second trimester abortions but sometimes they way over state lines.

A consequence of harsh restrictive laws are the dwindling number of abortion clinics in the United States.

In the states where abortion clinics are disappearing and there are more restrictive policies, surveys found that Google searches in DIY abortions spiked. For example, in Texas between 2012-2015 the number of abortion clinics has decreased from forty-one to seventeen. DIY abortions are extremely dangerous because these women may take illegal medications, homeopathic remedies and even worse trying to perform their own abortion with household items like a coat hanger. Dr. Parker says women who take illegal pills put themselves at extreme risks, especially if it doesn’t work. Dr. Parker says these laws force women into corners and then ultimately make the decision for them by making it a very public and political battle.

“It is extremely dangerous for anyone to take unidentifiable pills for any reason, and if one woman was brave enough to enter my office having pursued that course, then there are many others who are not.”  

Dr. Parker Willis (105)

As a feminist and a person that stands on the “pro-choice” side of the abortion argument, I believe that if a woman does not wish to be pregnant it is ultimately her choice to terminate it. I chose this book because I wanted to hear a perspective from an OB-GYN who perform abortions. Reading Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice has changed my life and increased my beliefs that a woman reproductive choices are entirely up to her. Dr. Willie Parker is an inspiration and truly embodies what it means to be a Good Samaritan. I would totally recommend this book to everyone, even if you are not ‘pro-choice,’ it puts abortion in the perspective about it can empower and help women in our society. I believe because advocates like Dr. Willie Parker the stigmatization of abortions can be greatly reduced. 

Written by: Julie Cappiello
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