I find it amazing and deeply disturbing that in the 21st century state legislatures in the United States are being inundated with bills (many of which have passed and been signed into law) that seek to restrict a woman’s right to control her own body and well-being. Without these rights, women will find it very difficult to partake fully in politics and in the economy. Perhaps that is exactly the goal of this type of legislation: to drive women back into the home where they are trapped by unwanted pregnancy and under the control of their spouse.
We know that the best way for women and children to escape poverty is for the women to have control of their reproduction. Being able to decide if and when she has children provides a woman with the opportunity for education, which allows her to find better-paying work. Wherever women have control of their reproduction, the birth rate has declined and economic well-being has improved. Why would legislatures in the United States wish to reverse this trend? The only reason I can think of is fear. Fear that women will gain too much power. Fear that men (particularly white men), will have less of a say in the future. Fear that they will lose control. Fear is repressive and destructive.
As a counterpoint to fear, Melinda Gates gave a great TED talk this month about the need for contraception. Granted, her talk primarily dealt with women in developing nations. But it is clear that what she says also relates to the current political climate in the United States. It will be quite ironic if NGOs such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation are able to bring reproductive freedom to women in other nations while here in the United States those same freedoms are being whittled away.