In a world in which the current administration and conservative-leaning United States Supreme Court seem to threaten the legal status of Roe v. Wade (1973), women everywhere in the United States are left to question the true rights they have regarding their own bodies, as well as any state support they have access to on such issues.
It is no secret that the right to decide to have an abortion remains one of the most polarizing issues in United States politics. Contested by religious groups, "pro-life" groups, and self-proclaimed "saviors of babies," the right to terminate a pregnancy has become more of a moral fight than what it originally was legalized as, an issue of autonomy.
Medical autonomy is defined by the American Medical Association Journal of Ethics as "acknowledging that patients who have decision-making capacity have the right to make decisions regarding their care, even when their decisions contradict their clinicians' recommendations." The medical field, especially when dealing with those of lower socioeconomic status or minorities, remains extremely paternalistic. In such a model, any given physician is assumed to simply "know" the correct path of treatment for a given patient. While this model is still widely accepted, most places have moved to a more integrated approach in which the patient is brought into the discussion of treatment.
So, how can American healthcare systems continue to promote patient autonomy, while political agents threaten women's potential to have the ability to do so, especially if their right to choose to have an abortion is taken away? We remain hypocritical across major institutions that influence decisions that will affect women across the States.
It is as if we are on a treadmill, constantly running in the same place, having the same fight with the same arguments. It is time we stop digging into the sensitive morality of abortion and look at it simply in terms of the bodily autonomy of women.
Men in political and/or religious positions of power, such as Kevin Nicholson, one of Wisconsin's candidates for U.S. Senate in the past midterm election, have retained a savior complex when it comes to abortion. His spokesman, Brandon Moody stated that Nicholson "will support legislation that appreciably saves and protects innocent human life - that is the ultimate goal." Here Nicholson takes the same position as many "pro-life" candidates - they want to protect a baby's right to personhood, assuming that starts at conception. However, the Mayo Clinic describes the collection of cells in an impregnated woman as a fetus only after the eleventh week of pregnancy.
Throughout the history of the United States, women have been in an ongoing fight for the rights to their autonomy. We have fought for individualized freedom, for legal personhood, and for legal protection to make decisions regarding the state of our own pregnancies, rather than being viewed simply as a vessel, eerily similar to how women are viewed in the dark dystopian fiction, "The Handmaid's Tale."
Even after the 1973 decision to legalize abortion in the United States on the grounds of bodily autonomy, conservative political figures, as well as national institutions, continue to oppose safe accessibility to abortion on the ground of religion or morality without taking the woman's personhood into account.
Autonomy and individual personhood is a crucial aspect of what makes America unique and half of the population cannot be excluded from that simply because of their ability to give birth.
We cannot continue this screaming match over abortion. Instead, we must consider a woman's right to make her own medical decisions, to be pro-choice and pro-women. We must give people the ability to choose.