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Abortion ban is an attack on women’s rights

People are continuing to protest increasing restrictions on abortion while showing support for Planned Parenthood. This image is from a past women's march in Georgia. (Madeleine Deisen/YJI)

MIAMI – The show “The Handmaid’s Tale” reminds me of what is happening right now in America. In the show, the “Handmaids” are assigned to have babies for elite couples, no matter if she wants to have that baby or not.
Her choice is not valuable and in fact she must quietly keep her opinions to herself.
The state of Alabama has enacted a near-total abortion ban, that has as its only exception when the women’s life is in danger. There is no exception for women who have been victims of rape or incest.
Georgia has enacted a similar law, banning abortion as soon as a fetal heartbeat can be detected – which can be before a woman even knows she is pregnant. In Georgia, there are exceptions for rape and incest, under certain conditions. “Heartbeat” laws are pending or in the works in other states, including Missouri, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio.
In some cases, the laws don’t simply restrict access to abortion, but criminally punish women and the health care providers who are part of the procedure.
Aborting a child under Alabama state law could sentence women to 99 years of prison. That is a longer sentence than a rapist would get.
Even though these laws could be overturned if they get to the Supreme Court, we have to think how serious this is getting.
First of all, abortion should not be a crime, but a choice.
The state should not be involved in private matters, especially when it comes to controlling a woman’s body.
Secondly, the law excludes victims of rape and incest. This law is basically saying that anyone who has gone through this horror as a young girl or woman still has to carry the pregnancy. Putting women through this traumatizing experience should not be up to the state but to the women to decide for herself, because she is the only one that knows what she has gone through.
Third, if the woman decides to abort an unwanted pregnancy, she would have to go to another state to do so legally. What if this woman does not have the financial means to do it? Who is going to look after her?
These lawmakers that say they are pro-life seem to be pro-birth. If they are so determined for the woman to have a baby, why they don’t care about the millions of kids who had poisoned water in Flint, who live in violent neighborhoods or who are in need for healthcare and education?
They insist, but when a baby is finally born, they don’t care about it anymore. It is not their problem.
If they really were pro-choice, they would care about the children who are already suffering right now and do something about it. They would make sure that the children to come would have the structure they need to live a happy and healthy life until they can provide for themselves.
Is that what they are doing? Unfortunately, not.
This is not only an attack on women who want to abort, but on women’s rights. This is a way for lawmakers to silence us, showing that they have more power over our own bodies than we do.
If it was the wives or the daughters of these lawmakers who were raped or simply didn’t want the baby, they would make sure that they would get what they want.
But when it does not interest them, they do what they “think” women want. How about asking them? How about not acting out of your own interest and instead, hear what women have to say?
The majority of lawmakers who voted for the new abortion laws were men, so this tells us a lot.
As a woman, I feel disgusted and frustrated about what is happening right now in this country. As an international student, there is not a lot I can do because I can’t vote, and I did not elect people who are in power right now.
But there is so many ways we can make a difference. And this starts with speaking up.
Protesting, writing, drawing, opening up about the conversation and debating the issue is a start. But please, don’t sit around and do nothing.
If you believe that women should have the right to make a choice about their own bodies, this is the time to speak up. If you can make a difference by voting, choose wisely.
Because in the end, all of us will pay the price. And what we are seeing right now it’s a consequence of many mistakes that led to where we are now.
Where I am from, abortion is illegal in the whole country, except when the women’s life is in danger.
Here in the United States although, you have the advantage of laws that vary from state to state. Take this opportunity to reflect on these issues and make real change. Women from all across the country are depending on you.

Maria Luiza Lago is a Correspondent with Youth Journalism International.

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