Look at these men. Look at them. Gathered around the most powerful man in the world – a man who has openly bragged of sexual assault, who refers to a vulva as a woman’s “wherever” – as he signs away the reproductive rights of women in developing countries. In reimposing the global gag rule, Donald Trump is removing US funding to any overseas organisation that offers abortions, even if the organisation provides those specific services with their own funds. It means that doctors, midwives, nurses and volunteers cannot so much as mention the word “abortion” to their patients and service users without risking the loss of the US funding they receive for services including the supply of contraceptives.
If there is a woman present in this room, as this executive order is being signed along with two others, she is not included in the shot. This photograph is what patriarchy looks like – a system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded. Nothing quite says powerlessness like the removal of your right to bodily autonomy, at the behest of a group of people who will never – can never – know what that feels like.
No one has changed anything at all about womens’ bodily autonomy. The only thing that has changed, and that in a minor manner, is whether the taxpayer gets dinged for you to exercise it or you’ve got to find some other source of funds to do so. Abortion, contraception, D&C, rug munching, bolts and piercings in unlikely (or perhaps today, likely) places and on and on and on are just as legal today as they were yesterday.
And here’s a general point about civil liberties R. Lucy. We are indeed supposed to be free to get on with life as we wish to get on with life. And with that comes the responsibility to both pay for that life ourselves and to take the consequences of how we live. Autonomy does not, whatever you think it does, mean that you’ve the right to what you want and also that someone else pay for it. That’s actually called dependency.