SARA BUCHWALD (grade 11)
“OKLAHOMA, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” was the text that popped up on my phone along with a screenshot, the contents of which were indistinguishable from the home screen. As I unlocked my phone to see what had caused such a dramatic reaction, I was not prepared for what I was faced with. The screenshot was of a BBC article and in a boldfaced black font the words, “A proposal which would force women to get permission from their sexual partner to allow them to have an abortion has passed the first hurdle in Oklahoma” jumped onto my screen. Any humor I had seen in such a seemingly over-the-top text vanished as I saw the severity of the single sentence.
According to Humphrey, the state legislator who wrote the bill, the fathers of these fetuses deserve a say in the decision of a body that doesn’t even belong to them. He refers to women as “hosts” for the baby, in an extremely detached and professional manner.
Historically, Oklahoma has had conservative restrictions on abortion. Although Roe v. Wade gives all women the right to abortion, many states, like Oklahoma, make it harder than others. In Oklahoma, there is mandatory counseling before a woman is able to get an abortion and a 72 hour wait period before she can proceed with the abortion after the session. Public funding is available is only offered in cases of life endangerment, rape, or incest, and private insurance only covers it in the case if life endangerment. These restrictions leave those unable to afford the procedure with something that costs even more: a baby. Additionally, Oklahoma caps abortions at twenty weeks post-fertilization unless the woman’s life is endangered.
As, ridiculous as these laws may seem to some, they pale in comparison to Humphrey’s proposed bill, which many argue is blatantly unconstitutional. The bill is in opposition to the Fourteenth Amendment, which was used in Roe v. Wade to give women the right to an abortion during her pregnancy. By ultimately making men the decider in the fate of the fetus, women are stripped of their right to abortion if the father is so inclined. Disturbingly enough, despite the bill’s glaringly unconstitutionality, it is still being considered.
The message the bill is conveying is just as troublesome. It ultimately implies that women shouldn’t be able to make decisions about their own bodies, men should be able to do this. If over half of the United States thought that a woman could make decisions for an entire country, it baffles me that the still government doesn’t think we can handle making decisions about our own bodies. As disgusting as this is, it’s a reality that women are not only threatened with regarding this bill, but are threatened by everyday by the old men in suits in Congress doing precisely the same thing, at a federal level.
Later on in the BBC article, the author cites President Trump and his anti-abortion movement as the reason that the bill is getting enough respect to get a full vote by the legislature. To me, this line was almost as chilling as the boldfaced headline. While half of the United States finds Trump downright laughable, the other half finds him inspirational and are motivated by his words and ideas. Articles like these only remind me how dangerous these next four years could be and how important it is to go out and protest. There are power in numbers and without a doubt women are insanely strong, so if we come together in the masses, we have to ability to resist and fight and save the rights we, and the women who have come before us, have worked so hard for.
“Oklahoma Abortions: Women May Need Partners’ Permission.” BBC News. BBC, 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
“State Facts About Abortion: Oklahoma.” Guttmacher Institute. 23 Feb. 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
Stern, Mark Joseph. “Why Oklahoma’s Anti-Abortion Fetal “Host” Bill Is So Noxiously Unconstitutional.” Slate Magazine. 14 Feb. 2017. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.