How We Can Stop the War on Women's Bodies
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Politics and Activism

How We Can Stop the War on Women's Bodies

We've done it before and we've done it again - women's collective organizing will be the downfall of neo-conservative politics and the fight against women's health

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How We Can Stop the War on Women's Bodies
Janek Skarzynski/Getty Images

On Sunday, October 2, thousands of women in Poland took to the streets to protest an all-out ban on abortion. Poland as it is has some of the harshest abortion laws in Europe, where women can only terminate a pregnancy in the first 12 weeks if the mother’s health is at risk, the fetus is “unviable,“ or in cases of rape or incest. However, a far right group Ordo Iuris petitioned the government with 450,000 signatures with a proposed bill that would ban abortion outright except when there was a direct threat to the mother’s life, prompting Parliament to debate it. The Law and Justice Party, a quickly rising conservative Catholic coalition, pushed it through Parliament, where it was all-too-close to being signed.

Besides the fact that this is yet another example of government and the ultra-right trying to control women’s bodies, women’s health is gravely at stake here. It has been proven time and time again that making abortion inaccessible does not decrease abortion, it just increases self-induced and unsafe ones. Moreover, the law was written in such as way that women who had miscarriages could also be jailed if they could not prove it was not self-induced. Doctors were already growing apprehensive about treating high-risk pregnancies, in case they would be connected to the case if the mother miscarried.

With a population of over 38 million people, a mere 450,000 signatures could set women’s health in Poland back decades. So thousands of women rushed to defend their rights on what became known as Black Monday, and got Parliament to reverse its pending approval of the bill. Minister of Science and Higher Education Jaroslaw Gowin stated that the protests “caused us to think and taught us humanity.” Politicians retreated, tails tucked between their legs, at the sight of women collectively protesting, the same way they relented and passed more progressive legislation in the United States in the 1970s.

In the United States today, 38 states currently have legislation that undermines women’s rights to reproductive health and the decision of Roe v. Wade. According to a New York Times investigation, over 700,000 women googled how to self-induce an abortion in 2015. These searches were disproportionately concentrated in areas where women had less access to abortion. Specifically, women with less access to safe clinics have a 54 percent increased chance of having a self-induced abortion.

Let’s be real with ourselves here: women are going to continue to have abortions, legal or not. Are some people’s hypocritical morals about the “sanctity of life” (while not providing any sort of resources after women are forced to carry their pregnancies to term) reason enough for lawmakers to continue to chip away at the progress our foremothers worked so hard for?

More importantly, why aren’t we doing anything about this?

Our rights are systematically being stripped from us – largely by men that will never have to deal with the consequences or address more comprehensive issues like the lack of sex education. Presidential candidates and their running mates are campaigning on the promise to limit women’s rights, even to throw the decision of Roe v. Wade onto the “ash heap of history where it belongs.” Generations of people before us – largely women – marched in the streets the same way the women in Poland did on Black Monday. And, by and large, it worked. We are much more powerful together, and if the women’s protest in Poland last week taught us anything, it’s that we can stop this from happening.

It’s time for the women of the United States to get outside of their campuses and off their phones (or use them to organize instead of “like”) and be angry again. Really, actually angry. We’re watching this happen, and it’s our job to fix it.

It all starts with something pretty simple. In the words of President Obama, "Don't boo, vote."

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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