Article published in VIA EMPRESA on July, 8th, 2022
This week we have witnessed the elimination of the constitutional right to abortion by the Supreme Court of the United States. Six votes in favor and three against have decided on the right to abortion of 36 million women in this country.
Can anyone imagine these six people deciding on the right of 36 million men in the same country to undergo circumcision or vasectomy or not for the supposed benefit of the common good against HIV or for ‘pro-life’ criteria? What if these 36 million men were forced to always wear condoms, as a way to prevent unwanted pregnancies?
Protecting one’s own body from the State
I don’t think anyone who has to have an abortion does so with pleasure. To a greater or lesser extent, abortion is part of a traumatic process for women. Job insecurity, the impossibility of young people to leave the parental home, the difficulty in reconciling work and family may be some of the reasons for making this difficult decision.
But beyond the reasons of each one, it is necessary to pay attention to the ease, still, of the different forms of power, mostly masculine, to decide what is convenient or not for the woman and her own body. Pregnancy ‘by obligation’ is too close to the imaginary of The Handmaid’s Tale, a famous TV series where women are pure objects of procreation, without freedom or autonomy to do anything other than have children.
When the woman wants to abort
According to data from Amnesty International (AI), every year in the world, one in four pregnancies end in abortion.
“The abortion rate is practically identical between countries that prohibit abortion or only in case of risk to the woman’s life and those that allow it in general”
AI mentions the Guttmacher Institute, an NGO in the field of reproductive health in the United States, and its study, according to which the abortion rate is practically identical among countries that prohibit abortion or only in case of risk to the life of the woman and those who allow it in general (37 x 1,000 vs. 34 x 1,000). The only difference is the sanitary conditions of women who live in countries where abortion is not allowed.
In short, according to AI, ‘criminalizing abortion does not prevent it, it only makes it less safe’.
When the woman wants to continue with the pregnancy
Discrimination at work due to pregnancy is known to all, now on the decline, thanks to the evolution of our society and the laws that penalize it.
But if you’re pregnant and you’re browsing the internet, you can still find titles like 5 Tips for Telling Your Boss You’re Pregnant. It seems that the perception is maintained that when a woman becomes pregnant (Hey!, with the help of her male partner, usually), her ‘professional capacity’ decreases and she becomes less valuable due to the fact that she has remained pregnant and want to be a mother
In fact, according to the World Economic Forum, “studies have shown that the ‘motherhood penalty’ accounts for 80% of the gender pay gap.”
It is worth adding here the fact that, with the dismissal of a pregnant woman, her economic independence is also limited, key to the woman’s freedom of decision.
Simone de Beauvoir, the French philosopher, writer and feminist activist speaks of ‘the servitude of reproduction’, condemning women to ‘long periods of impotence’, as a source of conflict and inequality that we have not yet resolved in hrer book The Second Sex,
“In any case, and no matter how robust women were then, in the fight against a hostile world the servitudes of reproduction would represent for them a terrible disadvantage: (…) pregnancy, childbirth, menstruation diminished the capacity of work and condemned them to long periods of impotence.”
Women and men, free
The great challenge, from now and always, is that we all together assume normality and freedom over the reproductive act in females of our specie, of which women and men are equal participants, and subsequent co-responsible, in an egalitarian society.
As you know, what we call a ‘brand’ resides in people’s minds and it is the ‘perception’ that each one of us has of what we see, name or think.
One day the brand ‘pregnant woman’ will have to be perceived the same as the brand ‘man’, in terms of equality, especially at work.