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Opinion: Roe v. Wade; freedom v. oppression

Rolling back abortion rights is a huge step in the wrong direction, and yet another example of how often the rights of women are put second to the desires of men

Earlier this month, on May 2, shortly after arriving at the Pique office for the day, I was greeted with some news that made my stomach drop and still makes me sick when I think about it. A leaked document showed the U.S. Supreme Court’s plan to strike down Roe v. Wade—the landmark 1973 court case which guaranteed legal abortions across the United States. Not exactly the start to my birthday that I was expecting when I woke up that day.

Now let’s get this out of the way early so there is no confusion (not that there will be any by the end of this). Not only am I pro-choice, as in a women’s right to choose what to do with her body and what is best for her life—a privilege men have enjoyed since the dawn of time—I am also pro-safe, legal abortions for women for any reason.

Because at the end of the day, abortions are health care. Even if you remove all the other reasons someone might want to get an abortion—like they don’t feel ready to raise a child, they were raped and now find themselves pregnant, or any other reason under the sun—sometimes abortions are necessary to protect the life of the pregnant woman. And it is outdated and archaic to believe forcing a woman to put her life at risk and possibly die to save a cluster of cells the size of a raspberry is the righteous thing to do.

Now, don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying pro-lifers are evil, or anything like that, even if I do think you might be a little bit dumb. You are entitled to your belief, and if that’s what you feel is best for yourself, great. Just don’t tell other people how they should live their lives. And for Christ’s sake, don’t stand outside a clinic spreading misinformation and berating women, many of whom might be going through one of the most confusing, difficult and frightening times of their lives. That’s just wrong on so many levels.

But the real issue isn’t with the beliefs of individual people. The real issue starts at the top. After all, it’s the Supreme Court that is considering striking down Roe v. Wade and has the power to do so without the public’s input.

Of course, those making these decisions will all say they are “upholding Christian values” or some derivative of that sentiment, or that “life begins at conception,” or that they are protecting the lives of the unborn babies who don’t have a voice.

But whatever their argument may be, one thing is clear: they don’t actually care about the babies. Nor do they care about the women having those babies. All they care about is control—controlling women’s bodies and forcing them into the stereotype of what they think women should be. 

If they did actually care about these unborn babies, all those people in the streets passionately making their opinion known that abortions are a sin would be equally passionate about putting programs in place to look after these babies once they are born and supporting the mothers raising them. Or they would be lining up to adopt these otherwise aborted babies like the “saviours” they claim to be. 

And that’s where this belief is failing me. It was never about protecting lives. It’s always just been about forcing a moronic and outdated belief on as many people as possible and then letting them deal with the outcome alone.

The battle isn’t won when you stop a scared and lonely 16-year-old girl, whose family would disown her for having a child out of wedlock, from having an abortion. That girl, who is still just a kid herself and probably isn’t emotionally mature enough to raise a baby, is going to need support. That baby is going to need support. And if none is given, there’s a good chance that kid lives an extremely difficult life of poverty or ends up in the underfunded and ignored foster care system.

And if you are reading this thinking, ‘that’s the States, that would never happen here,’ don’t be so naïve. This isn’t an overnight decision; this is a process that moves at a glacial pace. You might barely notice anything changes year after year, then one day you realize everything has changed and you find yourself trying to claw your way out of a massive valley.

Case in point: just over a week ago, the Supreme Court of Canada made a ruling that criminal defendants in cases involving assault—and sexual assault—can use a defence of self-induced extreme intoxication, meaning they were too intoxicated to control their actions.

While this may not be taking away a woman’s right to have an abortion, it still represents a huge step in the wrong direction and yet another example of how often the rights of women are put second to the desires of men. This is not OK.