Thuillier: Women are being put at risk by religion-based laws

Marcus Thuillier, Columnist

It took me a little bit of time to decide whether or not I should write about this. I’m not a woman or a medical professional — and shouldn’t that disqualify me from ever approaching this issue?

But neither of those things stopped 25 white men from deciding for all the women in Alabama. The abortion law that was passed in the state is inhumane, shows a complete disregard for women’s rights and doesn’t even remotely resemble the general population’s thoughts on the matter. Alabama and all the other states that followed suit just pushed the United States back 40 years into the past.

Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion, passed in 1973. Forty-six years ago, the Supreme Court of this country understood that giving a woman the ability to choose was a basic human and constitutional right. This decision should have ended the conversation then and there, but somehow people are not able to respect the ownership that a woman has over her own body and keep meddling into other people’s affairs.

First of all, the new abortion law in Alabama is unpopular by common measures. In 2018, 58 percent of American adults supported abortion in most, if not all, cases. Even in the conservative, pro-life state of Alabama, 65 percent of respondents to a 2018 poll stated their opposition to banning abortion in cases of rape and incest — something the new law supports. Going one step further, even prominent voices in the GOP like 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have called the new law “extreme.” This backlash demonstrates that the Alabama law and similar legislation in other states is made by a few people for a few people, specifically people of Christian faith who live in the United States.

Just to be clear, this isn’t an attack on the Christian faith or any religion, but instead a critique of a branch of Christianity that is pushing an agenda onto Americans. Religious fundamentalism exists outside of the United States and we are very quick to point out the danger it represents. It is now time to recognize that this kind of fundamentalism has crept into American political discourse and is disproportionately affecting women.

Republican Clyde Chambliss, who sponsored the bill in the Senate, notably said, “Senator, I don’t know if I’m smart enough to be pregnant, so I appreciate the wisdom of our heavenly Father.” Whether this is indicative of religious tones in new pieces of legislation — or just that Chambliss is a sexist but God-fearing man — does not really make a difference. Although this kind of legislation is usually driven by the beliefs of religious people, it ultimately comes down to one core issue: who has the ownership of a woman’s body.

It should be a woman who has ownership of her own body. However, the argument that this law puts forward is that the fetus’ life is as much, if not more important, than the woman who is carrying it. But that just cannot be true. If it was true, Chambliss wouldn’t be arguing that “The egg in the lab doesn’t apply. It’s not in a woman. She’s not pregnant,” when regarding in vitro fertilization. IVF produces an embryo, just like a natural pregnancy does. The law is deliberately targeting women for being pregnant and not protecting the “unborn child.” If anything, there can be an argument that Alabama does less for the born child than for the unborn child, and that is a very dangerous reality.

Anti-abortion views are religious, but are more about fundamentalism than religiosity itself. Equally, anti-abortion views are sexist, though in a much more covert way that is hidden behind the pretense of “pro-life.” More importantly, the many arguments against abortion often come from subjective points of views. But it shouldn’t be a subjective issue.

Pro-choice advocates are not going door-to-door, urging people to get abortions. If you are against abortions, no one is forcing you to get one. If you choose to carry out your pregnancy, regardless of the circumstances, no one will stop you. So let the other women in your life have a choice. Let them choose what is best for them, as it will have no impact on you whatsoever. You still have the choice to have a baby, and other women still have the option to choose what is best for them.

The woman’s right to claim ownership of her body should take precedence, and it is imperative that we let the women themselves decide what is best for them. And this is just addressed to the women out there. Ultimately, men should not be able to make decisions about women’s bodies.

Marcus Thuillier is a first-year graduate student. He can be contacted at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to [email protected]. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.