Abortion: Women’s Bodies, Men’s Rules

Mariah Negrillo-Soor, Staff Writer

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On Thursday May 8, CBC news reported an incident involving two women arrested for being topless at the annual March for Life rally held at parliament hill in Ottawa.  Neda Topalovski and Delphine Bergeron, members of FEME (an international feminist group), interrupted the rally to counter the pro-life movement.  They had the words “my body, my rules” painted on their stomachs.

Above are the main details about the women that CBC covered in their article about the protest.  The remainder of the article discussed the politician’s point of view on the subject and very little about why the women were there in the first place.  There was but one sentence that mentioned they were topless in order to grab people’s attention on the issue.  However, the article did not discuss the issue.  This is common in news media, to sideline issues that affect women or address the ways in which patriarchy still exists.

Abortion was made legal in 1988 thanks to Pierre Trudeau.  Before this, women were forced to get illegal abortions and faced many health risks.  The reason it was changed was because it was deemed unconstitutional and infringing upon a woman’s right to safety and security.  By legalizing abortion, women now have the right to make their own decision; they can now feel safer in their bodies and not trapped.  However, pro-life rallies continue to exist; religious groups continue asking the government to reopen the abortion debate.    Fortunately, Harper and the Conservative government have stated that they will not do so.

People who are pro-life argue that life begins at the moment of conception, when the sperm meets the egg.  They say that they must protect all life since it is a sin to kill.  In court, they will argue that it is illegal to commit murder and say abortion is the same thing. What about the life of the woman?  Is hers not as important as the “miracle of life” within her?  I do not claim to be an expert on religion, nor do I believe it is wholly evil, but some roots of patriarchy can be traced from it.  The belief that a woman’s sole purpose is to bear a child and be a “good” mother is perpetuated by structures presented in religious doctrine; for example, Mother Mary, her sister Elizabeth, and Mary Magdalen  are considered the ideal image of a woman.  They are holy, devoted to their husbands, and take care of everyone else.  It is clear that these images teach us how a woman should act and when she steps outside of this, is considered evil.  This can be shown by the multiple witch hunts that have happened over the course of history.  However, most notable is how women who have an abortion or would like to have one are treated.  They are called ‘sluts’ and ‘murderers’ when all they want is to make the choice for themselves. There is a larger issue at hand here; our society is still run by the patriarchy, or rather by men.  Women are still being told what to do with their bodies by men with the idea that they exist for men.  They are still treated as property to be controlled and domesticated, which is an obvious infringement of their right to be a person.   What people who are pro-life seem to misunderstand about being pro-choice is that it is not pro-abortion: it is merely about not telling others what to do, because nobody should have the right to dictate what one should do with their life or body.  It is not about promoting abortion, but rather about presenting it as a viable option.

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Abortion: Women’s Bodies, Men’s Rules