Shalini Nataraj, Vice President of Programs with the Ing Foundation, private philanthropy focused on advancing human rights. The views expressed in this piece are her own.
This April, I was a speaker on a panel at the Conference on World Affairs in Boulder, CO. The panel was titled “Forced to be a parent” and focused on the impact that overturning Roe would have on women’s rights.
The writing was on the wall, months ago. I spoke about the fact that reproductive justice and the right to choose has been a cornerstone of the feminist movement globally. Research and anecdotal evidence show that a woman who can control her own fertility is more likely to increase years of schooling and has better access to job opportunities. The negative aspects of
carrying an unwanted child to term include the physical and mental health and socio-economic status of the mother, as well as potential neglect and adverse psychosocial outcomes for the child.
Conservatives who are pro-life, are shockingly unconcerned about the well-being of the child and mother after birth. The current Supreme Court decision was focused on the Mississippi law ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy – the same Mississippi legislature has proposed laws that would outsource the work of verifying people’s eligibility for social-support programs, including Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps) to a private contractor (under the assumption that “fraud” would be uncovered) and thus putting the burden of compiling verification on the applicant, as well as throwing people who likely qualify for assistance off of these programs, making it more difficult for people to get food and income assistance in the
Conservatives across the country are seeking ways to remove people from accessing assistance, under the pretense of freeing them from “dependency,” or giving the state’s ways to restrict benefits supposedly to better meet a community’s needs. More governors seek waivers from protections for Medicaid recipients so that they can impose new work requirements, higher premiums, and time limits, and thus offer more tax breaks to the wealthy. It is the women who need such benefits possibly to terminate unwanted pregnancies.
In the light of these developments, it is obvious that so-called “pro-life” initiatives are anti-poor, racist (as most women who seek abortion care are colored), and in the final analysis, misogynistic and seek to control women’s lives.
[Photo courtesy: South Asians for America]