Drawing the line

Sex on Tuesday

I don’t normally write about politics. But the fact that my reproductive choices and future in general are being decided on by distant politicians who only care about me for economic and political gain makes me feel disempowered. Is cutting women’s health care and rights a serious platform for politicians?

Many Republicans supported the Blunt Amendment, which thankfully failed to pass in the U.S. Senate this March. The amendment would have allowed employers to deny coverage for health care services they object to for moral reasons. Meanwhile, presidential candidate Mitt Romney promises to defund Planned Parenthood, a resource for information on safe sex, free birth control, health checkups and free preventative screenings that are invaluable to millions of women.

Mittens also wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which made contraceptives and preventative services free and prohibits insurance companies from charging women more for health insurance. As I am a young female student with career aspirations who enjoys having sex, the stakes are high for me in this election.

Reproductive rights ultimately translate into the right to choose if, when and under what circumstances one will have offspring. It’s a basic freedom of choice and probably the most important decision one could make. It is a choice that belongs to women, because we are the ones who carry the child in our own bodies. It’s safe to say that pregnancy affects women more directly than men. So why are women being denied their reproductive choices?

Due to economic demands, it is hard for anyone, especially women, to have children in this society. The anti-abortion argument places overwhelming value on the human life of the fetus but overlooks the various realities and environments unintended children are born into. A study from the Guttmacher Institute found that “Unintended pregnancy rates are highest among poor and low-income women, women aged 18–24, cohabiting women and minority women.”

Sometimes, supporting a child or carrying a pregnancy to fruition simply isn’t possible. Many women, particularly the low-income women who depend on federal services like Planned Parenthood, don’t have the resources to stay healthy during their pregnancies and carry their children to term. Having a child when you are a teen, a college student or simply a young woman generally means becoming economically dependent on others while looking for low-wage work with possibly limited skills.

Pro-choice or not, no woman ever wants or intends to have abortions. A few close friends of mine have made the painful decision to have an abortion, and recalling the experience afterward is always difficult. The process of finding out you’re pregnant to attaining the abortion to recovering from it mentally and physically is grim and unsettling.

The fact is, a large portion of modern society doesn’t have sex purely for procreation in marriage. It’s not realistic to impart anti-sex measures on Americans, such as  limiting their contraceptive access and family planning and simply condemning the 95 percent of Americans who have premarital sex by age 44. Modern society needs family planning.

Being able to have sex for fun is a privilege that is made accessible by having knowledge, resources and choices concerning our reproductive rights. Taking away reproductive services prevents women from enjoying sex. Is it fair to say that having recreational sex should remain a privilege reserved only for men and that women don’t deserve to have sex for their own pleasure?

Women have historically practiced abortion using methods ranging from ingesting mercury to using coat-hangers to terminate pregnancies. There have no doubt always been women — and men — who wished that this service were readily available to them. Even if abortions are made illegal, the reality is they will never stop happening. There will always be women who have no way of supporting their children, and the number of dangerous, botched abortions and maternal deaths will rise. It’s critical for women to continue to have access to the resources that can prevent unintended pregnancies and that abortions are available in safe medical environments.

For those who endorse egalitarian values, here’s what equality looks like. All women deserve access to quality health care. Women should have the choice to be parents or not, to plan their own lives and pursue their life goals. Women should also be able to enjoy sexual freedom and pleasure. Seriously consider what values and beliefs your politicians have been conveying, whether they truly meant it at the time or not and if you are willing to promote sexist political views. It’s not just abortion and birth control that is at stake — it is sexual equality that is also on the line.

Contact Nadia Cho at [email protected].
Follow her on Twitter @nadiiacho.