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Sunday, December 17, 2017

Columns

Male jurisdiction of women’s bodies is a declaration of war


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A few years ago, a friend of mine suffered from sharp pains below her abdomen. She passed it off as cramps at first, but she started to realize something was wrong as the pains continued, even when she wasn’t on her period. It wasn’t until her parents found her unconscious on the bathroom floor that they took her to the hospital.

Had it not been for birth control, the cyst the doctors found on her ovary would have exploded, leaving her dead or infertile.

The United States has declared a war on women. Not only are they being criminalized — facing fines and up to five years in prison for having abortions beyond 20 weeks — they have also been marginalized from having access to basic health care thanks to President Donald Trump’s new plan to roll back the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate.  

In 2010, then-President Barack Obama passed the ACA, which included a contraceptive mandate requiring health insurers and employers to provide their employees with health insurance and cover contraceptive costs under government regulations. More than 62 percent of women of reproductive age — 15 to 44 years-old — are use birth control. That’s roughly 10.6 million women.

With Trump’s mission to eradicate all forms of progress done in the past 8 years, the new mandate makes it legal for employers to deny these women insurance coverage for their birth control under the auspices of religious righteousness.

According to Planned Parenthood, the pill is not only a way to prevent pregnancy, but also assists with health issues related to women. It prevents cysts in the breasts and ovaries, endometrial ovarian cancers, serous infections, and assists tremendously in reducing menstrual cramps that can cause some women to pass out from the pain.

Many religious groups, such as Protestants and the Catholic church, oppose the pill due to the fact that it’s mostly known for being a contraceptive and violates their strong religious beliefs — but so do condoms.

To deny women of medically effective treatment based solely on personal beliefs is a human rights violation. It denies them access to needed care and heightens their chance for medical risks.

Women’s rights have always been a controversial issue, from the fight for voting rights to the fight for equal pay. It’s a struggle that should have ended decades ago. By passing this new mandate, the Trump administration has not only set us back in time, but solidified the idea that women will always be second-class citizens.

Never in my life would I have thought female organs would be considered more lethal and in need of regulation than guns. But stopping a woman from taking a pill that will affect her body the way she wants is believed to need more prevention than stricter gun laws.

The patriarchy has made it clear that they will do whatever it takes to steal ownership of women’s bodies. No abortions, no birth control, no maternity leave — this is inevitably what the war on women looks like.

Guest columnist Bethel Biru is a broadcast journalism senior. She can be reached at [email protected]

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