Starting point

Laurie Penny makes a reasonable suggestion.

Let’s start by acknowledging that women are not things. Before we talk, like we have to, about what the attacks on abortion access mean for this anxious, awful political era, let’s establish as a ground rule that women are not vessels, or incubators, or an undifferentiated natural resource. Women are human beings whose human rights matter.

And one item that looks a good deal like a human right is the power to decide what happens to your body, within the realm of possibility. You can’t decide you will never get ill, but you can decide to do something about getting ill. Medical technology being what it is, women now can decide they will never get pregnant, if they choose, but they should also have the right to undo a pregnancy that they don’t want. Pregnancy doesn’t happen off in some other room, with a baby placed in the hands 9 months later; it happens inside a woman’s body, and if she doesn’t want it to, it’s not for anyone else to force it on her.

But, Penny goes on, lots of people in the US think it is.

This has been coming for a long time. It’s all part of a strategic  frontal assault on women’s right to choose, a deliberate ploy to overturn  the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling upholding abortion access as a constitutional right in the United States. These laws are not about whether a fetus is a person. They are about enshrining maximalist control over the sexual autonomy of women as a foundational principle of conservative rule. They are about owning women. They are about women as things.

Women as things that are comfortable for men – things that never disagree, never object, never snap, never refuse. Whether it’s making dinner or spreading her legs or gestating an infant, she’s always compliant.

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