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Politicians’ religious beliefs should not trump human rights

Abortion rights protesters at a rally at a Planned Parenthood clinic in St. Louis, Missouri last month. (Brittney Nickens/YJI)

St. Louis, MISSOURI – Georgia. Alabama. And now Missouri.
These states are pushing anti-abortion laws that would make it nearly impossible for a woman to get a legal abortion. In Alabama and Georgia, new laws are being put into place that will sharply restrict access to abortion
The Missouri State Senate today passed an anti-abortion bill, known as the “heartbeat bill,” that would ban abortions after a heartbeat can be detected – possibly as early as six weeks, before a lot of women even realize that they’re pregnant. The legislature is still debating it, but it could be signed into law as early as Friday.
St. Louis holds the only clinic in Missouri that offers abortions, so even if women find out they are pregnant early enough, they still have several steps to take. They have to have a doctor’s appointment, a screening, and then possibly drive several hours to get to the clinic.
When they get there, they will be harassed by anti-abortion protesters – men and women who are outside of the Planned Parenthood, trying to make women feel guilty about their decision.

Sydney Hallett, left, and Brittany Nickens, both of St. Louis, at a Planned Parenthood rally in St. Louis. (YJI)

I know this because I’ve been to that Planned Parenthood clinic myself. Pro-life protesters stand outside, hand out pamphlets, and try to make women feel bad about an already hard decision they must make. They trick you into thinking they are there to help you park, with one wearing a bright orange vest to stop cars. Then they try to get you to tell them about the decision you are making.

That is not fair.
Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion rights in America, was a revolutionary decision that put women in control of their bodies. It was a step towards women’s rights and a step towards the separation of church and state.
It seems like we are taking a step back for women’s rights with these anti-abortion bills being introduced. Rather than women being able to make our own choices, we are having our choices made for us by men who would rather control our bodies than let us take care of our bodies.
In these three anti-abortion bills, there is no exception for rape or incest. There is no reason why there should not be an exception, unless it is to hold power against women. We are treating women who were raped worse than the rapist who impregnated her.
In politics, it seems that it is all up to the woman to be safe during sex. We are supposed to take birth control. We are supposed to take a morning after pill. We are supposed to take care of a child no matter if the man leaves or if we cannot care for it financially
They say to put the child in foster care, but there are hundreds of thousands of kids in the foster care system that the “pro-lifers” seem to care about.
They do not care about an unborn fetus with a heartbeat, they care about controlling women’s bodies and pushing their religious beliefs in a country where we are supposed to separate church and state.
I’m tired of people telling me what I can do with my body.
I’m tired of politicians not separating their religious beliefs from believing in basic human rights.
New laws making abortion illegal will not stop abortion. It will stop safe abortion. Women will still seek out abortions, and some will die trying.

Sydney Hallett is a Senior Correspondent with Youth Journalism International. Brittney Nickens is a Photographer with Youth Journalism International.

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