Although the most extreme, Texas isn’t the only state passing laws that create new, humiliating obstacles for women seeking abortion. Only a few weeks ago, the Virginia legislature passed a similar statute. When a storm of public pressure struck, Governor Bob McDonnell said he wouldn’t sign it into law if the probe was included. The noxious portion was removed. Then he still signed the bill requiring an ultrasound for all women getting an abortion.
The New York Times recently reported that 20 other states have adopted similar abortion laws requiring providers to conduct ultrasounds first, and Alabama, Kentucky, Rhode Island, and Mississippi are considering ones with the more invasive procedure. Altogether, a record number of new abortion restrictions were put in place last year: 92 curbs in 24 states.
You might say there’s a big difference between the violence against women in Pakistan, and the abortion laws in the U.S. that force women to get internal vaginal probes before the procedure. But I think there are similarities in both these situations: men are controlling and perpetrating these attacks (whether physically or by controlling policy) and women must fight back to maintain their bodily integrity.
In Pakistan, women were able to get a law passed making acid crimes punishable by life imprisonment. Yet in many states here, women’s personal bodily integrity is restricted when it comes to obtaining legal abortion.
Congress is so polarized right now on issues of women’s reproductive health, as we witnessed with the struggles over funding for Planned Parenthood and insurance coverage for women employed by religious institutions. If we were able to pass a law outlawing these abortion restrictions, it certainly would not pass unanimously.
But we should take heart and follow in the footsteps of our brave Pakistani sisters. We should fight to roll back these restrictive laws and get state governments out of our personal health decisions.
I went to bed thinking of Zakia, Rukhsana, and the courageous work of the Acid Survivors Foundation and promised myself to continue to be inspired by them when I woke up in the morning.