Women decide for themselves

Despite what they think, pro-life groups hold no authority over a woman’s body

For some, the word “abortion” holds more weight than it does for others. Some think the word is synonymous with death. Others think the word represents a woman’s right to make her own choices.

I’ve been itching to comment on this since UTMSFL distributed pamphlets in Davis two weeks ago. The only reason why I didn’t last week was because Trump got elected, and I thought that deserved some attention. However, I think both of these topics do share some similarities. Trump has been back and forth pretty much since he hit the campaign trail, but he has also been known as one to support pro-life.

During his interview with Leslie Stahl for 60 Minutes, Trump claimed that he was pro-life. He added that he will be appointing pro-life justice for cases around abortion. Stahl asked Trump what would happen to the women who wouldn’t be allowed to get an abortion in a specific state, and he clearly stated that they would need to go to another state.

Earlier this year, Trump also said that, should abortion become illegal, there should be some form of punishment for the woman. When Chris Matthews from MSNBC interviewed Trump on his views, Matthews asked him what form of punishment should be dealt. Trump said he didn’t know. He later retracted this statement.

This doesn’t come as a surprise to me. Trump was facing a rape case not too long ago. He’s called women deplorable names on numerous occasions. He was openly caught admitting that he’s sexually assaulted women, which prompted several others to come out and allege that he had assaulted them as well. This is someone who openly referred to Hillary as “such a nasty woman” during their debate.

Obviously, Trump isn’t the only one who’s pro-life.

It’s not too big a surprise to people by now that UTMSFL is in the middle of a lawsuit threat with UTMSU. For those who don’t know, the reason behind it stemmed from UTMSFL being denied club status by UTMSU. They then filed a legal proceeding against UTMSU demanding that the union reverse their decision on the grounds of the decision being “a breach against their right to freedom of expression and association, and a violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, among seven other petitions listed in the legal suit.”

Two weeks ago, UTMSFL was in the Davis Building handing out pamphlets on their views. The cover contained a picture of a fetus with the question, “Shouldn’t all human beings have human rights?” Flip to the inside and “They Should” is splattered across a photo of an aborted fetus.

This appalling imagery panders to the laziest form of shock value. To take a photo of an aborted fetus in an attempt to shame women for their choices is unacceptable. Groups who take it upon themselves to spread a hazardous message shouldn’t be recognized as clubs on this campus. To force gruesome images in the faces of students for the sake of defending their own opinion is not something that should be fought for. Regardless of whether or not it’s admitted, all any pro-life group achieves is telling women that they should feel bad for something they had every right to do. That they should feel bad about “murdering a child” when nothing is known about the woman’s life, her reasoning, or how she’s coping with her decision.

Nour Alideeb, UTMSU president commented on the act. “Students for Life is an anti-choice group. The UTMSU, and I as a woman, do not condone anti-choice groups. The UTMSU believes that women and other individuals who can bear children have agency over their own bodies and have the right to make decisions for themselves.”

I absolutely agree. No one has the right to tell women what to do with their bodies, or to shame them for the decisions that they do make. Pro-life groups have no place in ultimately trying to guilt a woman into making a decision that will affect the rest of her life. And for what? So pro-life groups can feel like they’ve accomplished something by forcing a woman’s hand into giving birth? Meanwhile, there’s clearly little to no thought put into how the woman is doing.

Not to mention, what if there was a woman walking by in Davis that day who happened to have made the decision to have an abortion? Was the goal ultimately to make her feel like garbage? What if she already feels bad? Do pro-life groups not understand that these decisions could very well already be on women’s minds? Who gives them the right to shove that decision back in her face? It has nothing to do with them. Equally, there’s no call to do it to women who are considering abortion. No one should be made to feel bad for having one. I don’t know why I have to put this in writing.

I don’t expect a mutual understanding to be reached between me and those who don’t agree with me. Plainly, I believe that pro-life groups and pro-life supporters are accomplishing nothing other than standing by the decision to deny a woman the right to make her own choices. And pro-lifers who may be reading this will probably think that I’m a heartless monster for not defending the decision to force women into doing something that they don’t want to—which brings me to my next point.

What never ceases to baffle me is the irony of arguments made by groups like this. Seemingly unaware of the fact that they are attempting to strip women’s rights, UTMSFL immediately cried that their freedom was being breached.

What about the woman’s freedom? Does she not deserve a life? Does she not deserve to make choices regarding her own damn body? Does she need to justify every choice she makes to people who can’t seem to get it through their heads that this has nothing to do with them?

Pro-life groups are always so quick to provide “facts” on abortion. So, allow me to provide facts on pregnancy and labour.

When women are pregnant, there are a lot of things that change. Now, I’ve never given birth so I’m going to quote whattoexpect.com here. They report that tons of changes happen to the body, such as swollen body parts, migraines, morning sickness, hemorrhoids, gas, constipation, food cravings, fatigue, stretch marks, frequent urination, contractions, and abdominal achiness.

Those are just some of the things that can happen during pregnancy. When in labour, women run the risk of perineal lacerations, which are tears in the perineum (the area between the vagina and the anus). According to fitpregnancy.com, the tears can range from a minor one that usually requires few to no stitches and minimal pain, all the way to tears that extend to the rectal sphincter. The site also reported that women run the risk of umbilical cord issues, abnormal fetal heart rate, and amniotic cavity issues during labour. Women could also hemorrhage. And if you think that death in childbirth only occurs with unsafe abortions, you’re wrong. Death can occur in delivery as well.

After pregnancy, women can also face the challenges of postpartum depression and anxiety. In addition, women now have to sacrifice their free time, any plans they had for the future, and worry more about supporting themselves and an additional body.

That’s a lot to ask of a woman who didn’t want a child. It’s also pretty bold to claim that babies have a right to life without taking into account anybody else’s who’s involved. It’s worse to hand out photos of aborted fetuses in an attempt to, I don’t know, “raise awareness.”

It’s sad that arguments for women’s rights still need to be made. It’s aggravating. But it’s absolutely necessary to shut down those who believe they have more say over what a woman should do than the woman herself. Pro-life groups may think they’re fighting for a greater good in saving babies, but they’re not. They’re only reinforcing the idea that others should choose what a woman can and cannot do with her life and her body.

Now, please don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that you should avoid pregnancy altogether, and I certainly don’t mean to scare anyone thinking about having kids. And everything stated in this editorial is merely my opinion on the matter. I don’t mean to sway someone to my side. People are going to believe what they believe.

But I’m telling you what you’ll hear later anyway. This isn’t news. Childbirth is natural and beautiful, and welcoming a new life into the home can be very rewarding and exciting. But women who don’t want to have children, or who have made the decision to get an abortion, are just as valid as anyone else.

I wasn’t aware of UTMSFL’s decision to hand out pamphlets. I’m glad that I wasn’t there when it happened. I was appalled to learn that a student group took it upon themselves to march into a building and preach about what a woman should and should not do with their body. Who gives pro-life groups the authority to make decisions over what a woman does with her body? No one. The disgraceful decision made by any pro-life group or supporter to suggest otherwise goes ignored by me. But the sad part is that this decision affected many students who were passing by in Davis that day. I honestly can’t wrap my head around the decision to stand by handing out these pamphlets and ultimately shaming women for a decision that they choose to make.

Distributing these pamphlets, regardless of whether or not it was intended, destroys the image of the university being a safe space for students.

Women have every right to make their own decisions without having to answer to groups who are so misguided that they think they know better. I shouldn’t have to tell adults this. You don’t own anyone. Stay out of it.


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