On Abortions, Agriculture, and the ACLU

Co Editor in Chief Surprisingly, the title of this article isn’t a result of a nervous breakdown from my feminist beliefs, from my love of alliteration, or from my junior year stress. Abortions, agriculture, and the ACLU all have something more important in common – or at least that’s what the Illinois government thinks.   On October 5, Lorie Chaiten, director of the Reproductive Rights Project for the ACLU, spoke at a LAW breakfast and explained the nexus of agriculture and abortions to a packed Loggia. The Illinois legislature decided that it was okay to put women’s issues in the agricultural committee, a committee rife with anti-abortion, male legislators who, essentially, treated women as livestock. Ms. Chaiten proceeded to tell us about the ACLU’s response – wearing pig hats and t-shirts proclaiming the obvious: “Women are not livestock.” The Agriculture Committee passed anti-abortion laws in Illinois.

And the scary part is that Illinois doesn’t have it the worst. Ms. Chaiten described the growing trend – the war on women. Before the breakfast, I spoke to people who were dubious about the terminology. How can we possibly call it a war on women when there are more obvious wars being waged against women around the globe? After the breakfast, though, the sentiment changed. It’s clear that there’s a war on women in America. There is a purposeful movement from many legislators to repeal the right for a woman to choose.   South Dakotan doctors are required to tell women that they have a higher risk of suicide (which statistically has no causation behind it) before they get an abortion. Michigan representative Lisa Brown was removed from the house floor for saying the word “vagina” in a debate about reproductive rights (to which junior Kaya Romeo responds, “Okay. Let’s have a debate about roads, but you can’t say the words ‘road,’ ‘street,’ or ‘pavement.’”). These state actions endanger women and also take away fundamental rights.   One of the scariest things about this all, though, is that reproductive issues have not been a hot button issue in the upcoming election. That is, they weren’t until Governor Mitt Romney did his typical Mitt-style flip-flopping on abortion, announcing, “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda” after having held completely opposing views at various points. Not knowing what a potential president thinks of a woman’s right to choose is terrifying. As sophomore Tanya Calvin, who loved the LAW breakfast, states, “obviously there have been a lot of debates about abortion, but that’s not the whole story.”   As Jake Schlossberg, one of the few male students at the LAW breakfast, says, “these aren’t issues of women’s rights; they’re human rights. [Ms. Chaiten] did a really good job of touching on that. Fighting against these laws should not just be a battle for women to fight; men need to get involved, too.” And that’s the best takeaway possible from the LAW breakfast. Ms. Chaiten helped us get informed. Now we can take action – whether it’s voting or petitioning or just being aware of what’s going on. We can’t stand back and let the war on women be one-sided. Let’s fight back.]]>