The Absolute Sovereignty of Women to Control Their Lives

Cross-posted with permission from Madama Ambi 

I liked Melissa Harris-Lacewell’s take on Sharron Angle’s "let God take care of it" position re no abortion for rape/incest victims as she stated it last night on The Rachel Maddow Show.  Harris-Lacewell said:  I’m a person of faith & I like the idea that god can help, but we can’t leave EVERYTHING up to god.  We have to solve these problems at OUR level with OUR knowledge (my paraphrasing & my refusal to capitalize the "g"). 

OTOH, the Sharron Angles of the world could argue that by providing adoption counseling, helping girls/women avoid the "trauma" of abortion, teaching abstinence etc., that THEY ARE taking steps to solve the problem in accordance with what god really wants, which is that humans shouldn’t monkey around with the life processes HE deemed best.  So, actually, this is a very easy stance to rebut.  Recently I saw a report about the women in Congo who have been repeatedly raped, given birth to the children of their rapists and remain "hopeful."  This reminds me of "been down so long looks like up to me."  And I’ve known pregnant teens who will never admit that having a baby at age 13 or 14 or 15 was not only a short trip to poverty but also unfair to their children.  Here’s how the Angle interpretation of this would get spun: see, sometimes god has to knock you down in order to pull you up again…

Pro-abortion, pro-comprehensive reproductive health care/comprehensive sex-ed activists can’t win arguments relying on value judgments about quality of life.  You just can’t persuade a "god knows best" person to look at socioeconomic or psychosocial data.  IMO, the bottom line is the absolute sovereignty of a woman over her body.  This applies not only to abortion, but also to all kinds of sexual exploitation, trafficking, enslavement, prohibitions against where she can go (to a job or to school, or out and about without a male relative, etc.), and in the U.S. this goes to the question of what law enforcement and community education OWE women in order to ensure that we can move around safely in the world, at night even.

No, as I think more and more about it, arguing these issues HAS to be based on the ABSOLUTE SOVEREIGNTY of WOMEN to control their lives.  Period.  Bowing to piecemeal or incremental debates weakens our ability to INSIST on the human rights of all women.

When feminists/womanists conceive of our work as activists for human rights, will it be more evident, both to the world and to ourselves, that we are all really on the same page?  And will it push this agenda more into the foreground of the human rights agendas of other organizations such as Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International or the government of the United States?  And how about the preponderance of young black men in prison and the rights of gay/lesbian/transgender/transsexual people?  And how about the human rights of children?  Will it be less possible for "wedge" issues to sink our ship and our spirit and our solidarity?  Will it make prioritizing our agenda an easier job?

This article originally appeared on the patriarchalDISORDER site 

Facebook Twitter Email