New legislation should not limit individual women’s reproductive rights

A few controversial bills focusing explicitly on women’s health and reproductive rights have been proposed in Virginia over the past few months and have come under the scrutiny of the entire nation.

The nicknamed “personhood” bill came into the spotlight in February when the Virginia House of Delegates voted in favor of changing the definition of the word “person” to “from the moment of conception until birth.”

In a pleasantly surprising turn of events, the Virginia Senate voted 24-14 to send this bill back to the Senate Education and Health Committee. Yet even though it has been stalled, the fact that this bill was even proposed should – and in many cases has – cause[d] outrage because it reeks of sexism.

Bills such as this one should not appear in this country, though from state senates to the Capitol there have been appearances of similar legislation. We as a nation need to come together before we are pushed back into the Dark Ages.

There is a nationwide attack on women’s rights occurring, and without the proper coverage and attention women’s reproductive rights will be stripped away. The “personhood” bill stated: “Unborn children at every stage of development enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of the commonwealth.” If this is passed in 2013 it will take the decision making out of a woman’s hands the very second conception occurs.

The anti-abortion versus pro-abortion argument is then ripped out of the sphere of aborting and takes a stab at birth control. While supporters say that the bill would not affect birth control, those against the bill say that with such a drastic change in the law – a woman could be considered a murderer for taking Plan B. Even with the vocal denials the changes in written law could prohibit birth control as a whole or in vitro fertilization procedures.

The stalling of this bill was positive, yet there have been a number of other attacks on women’s health, such as versions of the personhood bill proposed in Mississippi and Colorado, the transvaginal ultrasound bill in Virginia, and the birth control hearing on Capitol Hill that had a panel of mostly male testifiers. Thankfully these bills have been rejected and sent back for revision, and there has been a nationwide uproar over the panel.

Each new proposed bill that works to restrict women’s rights further enforces the idea that women are not well enough equipped to make their own decisions when it comes to their bodies, and fetuses need to be protected from their ignorant and violent mothers to-be. It is incredibly disheartening to see so many people in government supporting such attacks on women.

The decision to have an abortion or to get pregnant is a private one – it is a tough enough decision to make without the government interfering. Hopefully such acts of protest that have come up with each new proposal can continue to occur, these views will be brought up and those supporting such bills can see how sexist and medieval they are.

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