Just last October, Jennifer Aniston posted on social media her famous FRIENDS line, “No uterus, no opinion”. This is in support of women’s right to choose what they do regarding their reproductive health. Since the 60s, women have been fighting for equal rights, not only when it comes to reproductive health but in different aspects of society.
According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, women in the US have been worried about the availability of reproductive health choices for them. Over the years, women have been observing that access to low-cost contraceptives and health care is being reduced. This limited access to different reproductive health rights is considered by some an impediment to women’s access to bodily autonomy. For some, this is an attempt by the state to limit women’s control over their own bodies.
A person’s control over the body has been a long time debate. For most, bodily autonomy is essentially a moral right. Many women believe, for example, that they have the right to decide whether to go through abortion or not because they have to decide on what happens to their bodies. This right to medical abortion is protected under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment.
Bodily autonomy, therefore, is observing a woman’s right to freedom of choice.
Challenging bodily autonomy
Some argue that the fetus a woman is carrying in her womb is different from other parts of the body. Unlike a limb or an ear, a fetus is said to be a separate being that has its own right to live. Additionally, people do not always have legal control over their own bodies; there are existing laws, for example, that prohibit euthanasia or suicide.
CNN also writes about bodily autonomy and states that some have been attempting to challenge the Roe V. Wade case; this case has set the precedent in declaring women’s right to decide for their own bodies.
Challenging those who challenge bodily autonomy
The medical sector has always respected the right of patients to make their own decisions over their bodies. Therefore, before performing any operation or procedure, they need a patient’s informed consent. This is because medical professionals believe that they should respect each patient’s own needs and set of values.
Most argue that as much as each person has the right to refuse or accept treatment, a person must have autonomy in other bodily decisions. This includes women’s reproductive rights, transgender health, and medical aid in dying. Interestingly though, most politicians feel the need to impede this right.
Legislators are no experts when it comes to every individual’s specific situation. Just like medical professionals think that every patient has different needs, legislators must also respect that people’s medical needs when it comes to the body do not have a one-size-fits-all approach. Aside from trying to exercise control over women’s right to have bodily autonomy, politicians are showing no respect to the decisions of these skilled medical professionals, too.
Women and constraints to bodily autonomy
Exercising restrictions regarding women’s bodily autonomy affects other rights as well. These restrictions affect a woman’s right to privacy, dignity, and equality. Certain laws that impede bodily autonomy consequentially impede the right to access information, too.
Because of these restrictions, women in other states have limited access to the right reproductive and sexual health care they need. Women who want to go through abortion or want to have access to other forms of contraception experience discrimination in other parts of the world.
When women face discrimination, their right to be free from cruel treatment can be adversely affected, too.
Giving women the right to make decisions with their bodies is a form of empowerment. Having the ability to decide for one’s self is giving responsibility to lead a person’s own life. At the same time, reproductive health is an intimate matter that every woman must privately decide on their own.
Additionally, a woman protects her own dignity by having the freedom of choice to do what she wants with her body. Protecting dignity is essential in protecting a person’s mental and emotional stability.
The fight for equality
Having the power to decide for oneself is a form of assertion of equality. For generations, women have struggled against inequalities such as forced marriages, marital rape, and female genital mutilation. In some cultures, virginity testing happens, too.
All these inequalities are rooted in a patriarchal society that honors men’s decisions over women’s. To fully gain equality, therefore, society must accept that women have minds of their own and have the capability to decide what is best for them and their bodies.