My Body, My Choice: Abortion, Cigarettes and Iran

My mom died of lung cancer. She never smoked a cigarette a day in her life. My dad was the smoker. My dad had a choice to smoke; my mom had a choice to live with a man who smoked. Cigarettes cause chronic illnesses and are deadly. But, you have a choice to smoke. Legislation this week attempts to take away my choice for my body. The abortion debate has collapsed two issues, a woman’s right to choose and when life begins to the detriment of women’s rights. Using broad strokes, the anti choice position has blurred the distinction of “viable life.” The embryo at 6 weeks or the first trimester is not a viable life. The embryo cannot besustained, even with medical intervention at this stage.

Over 90% of abortion in the US are in the first trimester.The number of abortions in the US have dropped by 26%, attributed to greater availability of birth control. Women’s reproductive health is under siege. New rules allow insurance companies not to cover birth control. Freedom of expression and religion allow stores not to carry birth control. Women are being disarmed of power.

The equal rights amendment (a proposed amendment to the US Constitution stating that civil rights may not be denied on the basis of one’s sex) has not passed. It was proposed in 1972 and needs the ratification of 35 states, this has not happened. If you look at the states recently restricting abortions, Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Ohio and Georgia, 4 out of the 6 are states who have not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA.) Todd Adkin, formerly of the Missouri House of Representatives (1989 – 2001) and the US House of Representatives (2001 – 2013) said

“It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare,” Mr. Akin said of pregnancies from rape. “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down. But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

This explains the Idiocracy and it is exhausting. Regardless of position, there should be alarm the this thinking enters into the debates of our lawmakers. The ignorance of women’s bodies is allowing women’s right to be taken away and which should alarm all of us. The US constitution is based on the separation of church and state. Iran is an example of what happens when this collapses.

Iran was modern, in the 60s and 70s. My Persian friends called the Tehran, the Paris of the middle east. In 1936 – the hijab and veils were banned, in 1941, the laws relaxed, women had a choice of dress, religious or modern. Then came a rebellion against the “westernization” of Iran. In the late 70s, at the University of Tennessee there was a split in the Persian community. A seemingly fringe group of students protesting for the ouster of the Shah of Iran taunting the others who embraced westernization. The pro Shah students were not concerned.

Then came 1979. The Shah was exiled, the  American embassy was seized and  52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days and women were forced to wear the hijab. Without the proper religious garments, women could not work, shop, do business or be seen in public. Since that time, more restrictions have been placed on women and men. The tipping point being control and restrict women first. Women had freedom for 43 years and then overturned.

Abortion became legal in the US in 1973; we’re now 46 years out the national dialog is the possibility of this being overturned? This was landmark legislation; choice for my uterus. This week marked the 65th anniversary of Brown versus the Board of Education that ruled racial serration was unconstitutional.

Since April 2018, more than two dozen executive and judicial nominees have declined to endorse the Supreme Court’s unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education. This week — one that marks the 65th anniversary of the landmark ruling that struck down legal apartheid in this country — the Senate is poised to confirm three of those judicial nominees to lifetime seats on the federal bench.¹

We should all care about the alarming legislation this week to restrict women’s rights because this sets a precedence to over turn constitutional rights. This should not be viewed as a single issue, it is not black and white. Holistically, what does this means for constitutional rights? My body, my choice, my thoughts.



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