Women’s Rights in a Man’s World

by Carol Stirling, Boise First Congregational United Church of Christ

In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court held in Roe v. Wade that a right to privacy under the 14th Amendment extended to a woman’s decision to have an abortion. Anti-abortion legislators have introduced legislation that would make all abortions illegal and essentially overturn Roe v. Wade. In 2011, over 1,000 pieces of legislation have been introduced and 162 bills have been passed at the state level to restrict access to abortion and/or family planning.
During the Idaho 2012 legislative session, Senate bill 1387 was introduced which would require a woman seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound procedure before the abortion. It would require a medical procedure on a woman already burdened with the personal decision of having to continue with the pregnancy or not.
There was a ground swell of opposition to the bill across the state of Idaho. During the public hearing on the bill, Sue Philley of Boise presented to the legislators a petition with 4,000 signatures against the pre-abortion ultrasound bill. She said, “Health care decisions are best made by patients and their medical providers, not politicians.” People felt the bill was a threat to freedom and that personal values of legislators were being forced on women. “Taking away freedom from women to make their own decisions about their own bodies, based on Mr. Winder’s (sponsor of the bill) personal beliefs, is discriminatory and wrong. It is about pursing personal preferences ahead of just treatment for everyone,” said Dan Morrow.

Dan Fink, rabbi for the Ahavath Beth Israel congregation inBoise, was quoted in the paper as saying, “It is unfortunate that religious extremism and misogyny go hand in hand.  Here inIdaho, religious extremists wage war on women.  Our selectively libertarian Republican legislators and governor loathe the interference of the federal government in their affairs and yet they have no compunction when it comes to their own unwelcome intrusion into the lives ofIdahowomen.”

The Idaho ultrasound bill passed the Senate but was tabled in the House after hundreds of people demonstrated at the capitol.  Petitions were signed and e-mails were sent to legislators protesting the injustice of the law that was proposed.  Proponents for the bill promise to bring it back next year.

Other states have passed bills restricting access to abortions, adding much longer waiting periods, requiring women to listen to the heart beat of the fetus and requiring in-person counseling and other unjust limitations.

These laws and the movement to restrict abortions denigrate women by proclaiming that men are in a better position to make decisions about women’s reproductive health than women themselves.  The UCC has joined with other faith groups to call for protection of women’s equal and fair access to abortion.  The UCC will continue to speak up against state laws introduced and passed that restrict women’s health options.

Keep up to date on the issues at the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice http://rcrc.org/ .

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