Religion must not overrule constitutional rights


Protestors Mandy Hackney and Nancy Good, dressed as handmaids to protest the Women’s Resource Clinic Photo credit: Rachael Bayuk

Whatever your opinion is about abortion, I can’t change it and I won’t try to change it. But, I will discuss with you how important it is for someone to be able to make the decision for themselves. And not be shamed for making a decision that, undoubtedly, was a hard one.

Abortions have been taking place for hundreds of years. They weren’t always dangerous and secret. However, once they were politicized, then made illegal, many young women died from complications of unsafe abortions. Some women even died on the doctor’s table, their bodies dumped, sold or hid in a shallow grave.

Women have been dying for the ability to control their bodies and destiny’s for too long. With the monumental decision in Roe v. Wade, made on Jan. 22, 1973, abortion had changed. It was safe and legal.

Yet, on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018, the Women’s Resource Clinic, a local privately funded ministry crisis center, held a fundraising dinner at the Bell Memorial Union on Chico State’s Campus. The event was closed to the public, but they had many guests. The majority of people in attendance were older, Caucasian and appeared to be upper middle class.

Outside of the event were protesters from Women On Reproductive Defense. They quietly held signs in protest of the clinic and its anti-choice rhetoric. Some attendants of the fundraiser came up to protesters in a clear attempt to intimidate them or stump them with scenarios. It did not phase sign holders, who were strong in their beliefs.

WORD organizer, Ellen Galena, says that they were out to let people know that the Women’s Resource Clinic is not a real clinic; to stand in solidarity with survivors of sexual assault and to make sure women’s voices are heard.

“It [the protesting] recreates the experience that a lot of women go through when they are seeking reproductive care. Outside real medical clinics people shout at them; they hold graphic signs, ” Galena says, “we aren’t shouting at them, our signs aren’t graphic, we’re just letting them know what it feels like to walk through people that hold a different point of view about women’s rights than they do.”

Groups that seek to overturn Roe v. Wade, or don’t want to provide information and access to abortions, do not actually want to stop abortions. They want to control what empowered women do with their bodies. The best way to prevent abortions is to provide effective birth control (not preach abstinence and then shame women who get pregnant.)

Yet many Christian companies, such as Hobby Lobby, have pushed back against providing their employees with necessary birth control methods such as the IUD and “morning after” pill.

So if you don’t agree with abortion, yet you won’t agree with many birth control methods; then clearly the female body is meant solely as an incubator to you.

Abortion is never going away, the only thing at stake is safety and legality. If you don’t agree with abortion, the most obvious solution is to not get one. You have no right to control the actions of another person because you don’t like something or you think you know best. Your religion and beliefs stop where your personal space ends. Another persons body is not to be affected by your beliefs or religion.

Laura Sheldon, one of the fundraising events featured stories, spoke about how she believes adoption is the best route. She was adopted, her sister adopted and she adopted out her child as well.

“I wanted the problem that I created for myself to go away,” Sheldon says of her pregnancy with the son she adopted out. She says she gets to see him once a year and has some contact with him and the family.

While adoption does sound like a good idea at face value, it simply isn’t as easy as it seems. In order to put a child into adoption, you must still go through the unwanted pregnancy, the medical bills and the permanent toll on your body. Adoption just isn’t a reasonable option for everyone.

This is where the right to choose is so important. It is fundamentally the right to decide your own reproductive future. We are not breeding stock and we are refusing to be treated as such.

During the protest, I couldn’t help but see the difference between the two groups. Separations that have divided both sides for a long time. Many of those who walked past the protesters scoffed and laughed. When did fighting for women’s right become a laughing matter? I suppose it happened when money became involved, when religion ruled every inch of a women’s body. I know that there are quite a few women’s voices on the anti-choice side, but I simply can’t understand why.

Do not forget who’s “fault” it was for getting kicked out of that glorious Garden of Eden. From Eve to Delilah, women are shown to be wicked. Our only true use is to give life to “great men.”

I know that women are far more than a simple servant or supporter of a man.

For a long time, religion has been a place where people get to feel superior to others. But, in America, I believe neither your class, your religion, your gender, your age nor your skin color make you better than anyone else.

Meaning that we are all equal. We have the right to choose our futures. We have the right to freedom of religion and speech. However, all bets are off once you believe you matter more than me. That somehow your religion makes you all knowing or that your money means you can make decisions about my body.

There is a storm brewing in America.

Rachael Bayuk can be reached at [email protected] or @BayukRachael on Twitter.