Saturday, March 31, 2012

Reproductive Rights: Part 2

First, let’s cover reproductive justice. The choice of when, or if, to have a child and the right to live under conditions that allow for optimal choices for her own life is the right of each and every woman.  It does not belong to anyone other than the woman involved, not the legislature, nor to any organization or church.  Our bodies belong to us and to no one else, and no one has the right to mandate that we have a child at any time in our life by denying us access to birth control.  To do so is not only a form of oppression but of enslavement to the beliefs of others.  

Slavery and involuntary servitude were abolished under the 13th Amendment and the 14th Amendment states, “No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws”.  By passing these laws, and denying women their reproductive rights, the states are in direct conflict with these amendments and its guarantee of personal liberty.
In Roe v Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the 14th Amendment guarantees of personal liberty and privacy in family matters extended to her right to terminate a pregnancy, and ruled that during the first trimester, a decision to terminate a pregnancy is left in the hands of the woman and her health care provider. The Court applied a “strict scrutiny” analysis which means that the laws being passed that limit that right are contradictory to federal law and rights guaranteed under the 14th Amendment.
As to states overstepping their bounds, Article 6 of the Constitution, referred to as the Supremacy Clause, provides that the U.S. Constitution, the laws of Congress, and all treaties made under the authority of the United States are the “supreme laws of the land”.  Under the Supremacy Clause, if a state law is preempted by the U.S. Constitution, federal law, or treaty, the state law may not be enforced.  Therefore, the states are passing laws that contradict the Constitution and federal law, and those laws are not enforceable.

Next, we have discrimination.  Any health care coverage that covers prescriptions specifically for men, such as Viagra, or for any disease or condition that is particular to a gender or ethnic group, and that doesn’t cover reproductive control for women is discriminatory, and discrimination is illegal under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission ruled over a decade ago that refusal to cover contraceptives was a violation of the gender discrimination law.
The legislators and the organizations pushing to outlaw or control our reproductive rights are imposing their own religious beliefs on everyone in that state.  While those organizations and their members have the right to believe as they choose, they do not have the right to force their beliefs on others. That is religious discrimination and it’s a violation of the 1st Amendment.

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