By Nicole Nguyen, 11th Grade Student at Glastonbury High School
“What do you think makes a women want to have an abortion?” a female reporter asks Jim Buchy, a Republican member of the Ohio House of Representatives. As he realizes the nature of the question, Buchy pauses, his face scrunches up, and for a moment his eyes flick everywhere but at the female reporter as he struggles to find the words. “Well, there’s probably a lot of reasons, I-I’m not a woman,” he chuckles uncomfortably, “so I’m thinkin’ now, if l’m a woman why would I want to get. .. ” He stumbles a bit more before admitting, “I don’t know, it’s a question I’ve never even thought about.”
Jim Buchy is a strong supporter of prohibiting abortions in Ohio, but his conversation here has revealed a lack of understanding about this issue that he nevertheless has the ability to influence. This issue won’t affect his life but instead thousands upon thousands of women who will feel their bodily rights being stripped away. It should upset anyone how ill-informed – or uninformed in this case – our politicians can be when making decisions that will affect the people in such an intimate way.
One of the pieces of legislation Buchy and other Ohio Republicans had been trying to pass was the “Heartbeat Bill.” The “Heartbeat Bill” sought to prohibit abortions once a heartbeat is detected. A heartbeat is detected in pregnancy as early as six weeks.- Six weeks into a pregnancy is two weeks after a woman misses her period; that is before most women even realize they are pregnant. This means a woman has only two weeks to find out she’s pregnant, consult with her partner, and schedule and then get the abortion. This is simply impossible. Jim Buchy, however, believes that the Heartbeat Bill would only “encourage personal responsibility” in women. Control of women’s bodies should not be up for public debate in a country as modern and civilized as America, yet it seems every politician has an opinion about it.
Women have historically had less rights, less respect; and less freedom in society compared to men, and we have had to fight for our basic citizen rights, such as the right to vote and own property. We’ve had to fight against discrimination in the workforce for equal pay and equal respect. But bodily rights are something we will need to fight tooth and nail to protect. The first step needs to be with individual and community action. I, along with all women, need to start and continue to support organizations dedicated to providing essential feminine healthcare services, such as Planned Parenthood. Ironically, it’s only when women have access to contraception which Planned Parenthood provides for free – that abortion rates go down. One of the ideas Jim Buchy hadn’t thought about is that doing things like defunding Planned Parenthood forces women to take illegal routes, which are unregulated and could be extremely dangerous to the women who have no choice but to go down those roads. We must push our representatives to preserve or increase access to essential female healthcare services such as breast cancer screenings, STD testing, and sex education. Sex education is one resource that would help women, as well as men, prevent unintended pregnancies and therefore lower the need for abortions.
Abortion is a polarizing subject for women to talk about. But no government or legislative body should be able to make women suffer 9 months of pregnancy, stop their professional careers, go into labor, and either raise a child or give it up. Only when I and other young women like me make it clear that we need these services as well as the right to control our bodies will public policy and politicians change. If we want to make a difference on a large scale it will only happen from the bottom up.
This blog post was an entry into Young Women Rising’s annual essay contest in which 11th grade students were asked, “What is one of the most important issues facing young women today and how do you see yourself having an impact on that issue?”