Sunday, June 16, 2024

Opinion: Subjugation or representation? An uncomfortable discussion about abortion laws

OpinionOp-EdOpinion: Subjugation or representation? An uncomfortable discussion about abortion laws

BY SHRIYA TANDON
Staff Reporter




A few years ago, I was a part of a stage play called “Uncivilized Daughters,” which was created at a women’s college in New Delhi, India. The play talked about the unspoken desires of the female body, the male gaze, the femme fatale behaviour used as a powerful weapon against patriarchy and lastly, a woman’s independence. 

It felt revolutionary to be a part of something that mattered and to be heard by audiences that needed to understand the severity of this discussion. 

My three years at the University of Delhi did not just give me fun times to remember, but also the strength to rebel against and discuss uncomfortable subjects of importance that affect women.

This brings me to the recent decision to strike down Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court in the U.S.. With a legal precedent that was a shield for women for so long, it has now amounted to a colossal wreck and all in vain. It is as if the country has gone a thousand steps back. 

I believe it is of significance to not only acknowledge the battles mentioned in our history books fought by brave men around the world, but also to acknowledge the battles that are fought everyday by millions of women to be able to live a life they can call their own. 

I strongly take a stance that a woman’s body by no right is an owned property of the society.  These repulsive changes do not just affect women’s liberation, but also affect men, whose rights are stolen and voices stifled. 

Men are also direct beneficiaries of abortion rights in America. This decision not only takes away a family’s right to contraception, but also their agency to a financially-secure future for their unborn child without a planned pregnancy. At the very least, it should be considered with a modicum of thought as to how this unnecessary change in laws will affect everyone involved. 

In an attempt to mitigate the consequences of this situation, some states across the country have tried to keep the laws more flexible. Healthcare providers have come forward in support of individuals, couples and families in need at this dire hour. Abortion is still possible in exceptional cases if only the condition is reported well in time. This only holds true for some states though. 

Unfortunately, the authorities do not realize the social stigma that is now attached to this discussion, which makes access to safe abortion all the more tedious and nerve-racking. Because abortion stigma attaches to a person, not just the idea of abortion itself, the women who choose to have an abortion often feel isolated. The concealment leads to its perpetuation and the oppression thus continues. It seems as if the status of women as free citizens has been curtailed. 

This does not just end at abortion as access to contraception has also been restricted and regulated since the monumental Roe v. Wade decision. With unwanted pregnancies among young people, there is a grave risk to their physical and mental health as well.  Many health benefits have also been taken away from women who face problems related to their sexual and reproductive health and challenged as a result of this decision.

This is not just a matter of representation anymore, it is a matter of subjugation. It is safety, security and the right to make a decision about one’s own life without watchful eyes and unsolicited judgment. 

Shriya is a staff reporter at The Review. Her opinions are her own and do not represent the majority opinion of The Review staff. She may be reached at standon@udel.edu

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