Woman’s Body, Man’s Choice

Why should a male-dominated Congress control laws about women’s issues?

Ainsley Miles, Staff Writer

A trickle of sweat ran down the young woman’s face, slowly dripping past her hairline, before being swept away by the back of a clammy hand. The air-conditioning inside of the car suddenly seemed stifling and boiling hot, surrounded by protesters. Her eyes darted through the members of the crowd, skimming over posters and signs held up by men, screaming that she was about to become a murderer. The click of her throat as she swallowed was evident in the silent car, despite the buzz of noise just outside the doors. She closed her eyes as the car parked, steeling herself for the journey she was about to make into the clinic. She swallowed the last of her nerves, and went inside, hoping to be in and back out as quickly as possible, so she could return to her everyday activities, even though her life would never be the same.

In 2015, The World Bank reported that the United States’ population was 50.5% female. However, that same year, in the U.S congress females only made up 19.4% of the 535 members, according to Rutgers’ Eagleton Institute of Politics. This discrepancy is a huge issue in the United States, as it means that it is mostly men in Congress making decisions about women’s issues such as abortion, protection from sexual assault, and affordable birth control. Women need to be equally represented in Congress in comparison to the population proportion so that they can have fair laws that portray their beliefs as a gender, including having the right to abortion.

Being able to make choices about your own body is something that is at the forefront of many women’s minds while having to face a difficult situation. An unwanted pregnancy can be a turbulent time in any woman’s life, because they can be the result of sexual assault. If they’re prevented from making the best choice for themselves, then that period can become even more grievous.

As cited by the Guttmacher Institute, abortions are only legal in seven states outside of extreme circumstances affecting the woman’s life or health. This means that in the U.S, only 14% of states allow women access to abortions. Women who need abortions live in 100% of the states, so making abortion accessible to all women should be a concern for policy makers,no matter the location.

However, it is currently not a concern to Congress because it does not directly affect the majority of representatives. As previously stated, the majority of members in Congress are male, so they will never be presented with the possibility that they might have to make such a monumental decision about their life, as well as the life of their fetus.

Equality in Congress will improve the diversity spectrum of the people reviewing potential laws, and will allow all viewpoints to be represented in our government, rather than just a middle-aged white male point of view.

This does not necessarily mean that there should be an equal amount of people who believe abortion is right and those who believe it is wrong, but rather it should be that there should be equal representation between the genders in the government. If there are more women in government who understand the turmoil or joy a pregnancy can induce, then that would reflect accordingly in the policies they enact.

In New Hampshire, women are allowed abortions, but not a “partial-birth” abortion. The National Right to Life website states that a partial-birth abortion is when the baby is delivered feet first, leaving the head within the womb before killing the fetus, usually by collapsing the skull cavity. This procedure is only performed up to 20 weeks into the pregnancy. This is one of the few restrictions that residents of New Hampshire face in accordance to abortions, as the laws surrounding it are otherwise relaxed.

For any resident in New Hampshire worried that their taxes are paying for this procedure, in most cases, they’re not. The money to pay for an abortion in New Hampshire must be paid privately, except in the case of life endangerment, incest, or rape.

The skewed perspective of Congress only showcases the fact that women are still fighting for their voices to be heard in government, even in a modern society that prides itsself on the strides that have been made for equality. Yes, strides have been made, but women still aren’t well-represented, still aren’t equal, still aren’t granted freedoms with their own bodies because it is men making those decisions. It is not the same for someone to vote on something they will never experience. Just like a white man will probably never experience racism the way a black man will, any man will never experience pregnancy and the feelings surrounding it the way a woman will. Try as they might, it will never be an issue for them, so it can be hard to fully grasp exactly what goes through a woman’s mind in those moments.

Abortion is an area where the discrepancy between Congress and the population is evident, but there are also other areas where the male-majority makes decisions about women’s issues. Birth control, feminine hygiene, sexual assault, and over-sexualization are all issues perpetuated by a male dominated law-making body. By creating a more equal ratio of Congress members, laws will more accurately reflect the views of the entire population.