What "Sanctity of Life" Really Means
As of December 19, 2016, Texas health care facilities that perform abortions must bury fetal remains instead of putting them in a sanitary landfill, like any other type of biological medical waste. Governor Greg Abbot of Texas, who proposed the state-level rule in July, has justified burying or cremating human and fetal remains by stating that he “believe[s] it is imperative to establish higher standards that reflect our respect for the sanctity of life.”
Unfortunately, Texas is not the first state to approve mandatory burial for fetal remains. Indiana and Louisiana passed similar measures this year but have not yet put the rules into effect. Indiana’s law was signed by Gov. Mike Pence, the vice president-elect of the United States — a fact that only underscores how necessary it is us for us to remain vigilant about the rising anti-abortion sentiments in the US government, and that making the protection of abortion rights more important than ever.
In reality, abortion is a medical procedure that is often an emotional and difficult decision for women. Requiring women to bury fetal remains regardless of their wishes undermines their agency. A woman should be allowed to have complete control over her health, which includes whether or not she carries a baby to term, whether or not she wants an abortion, and how the aftermath of her abortion is handled. As Nancy Northup, president of the Center for Reproductive Rights, said, the Texas rule was only not medically unjustified, but will also “only increase barriers to reproductive care while deliberately shaming and stigmatizing Texas women.”
What’s more, forcing a woman to bury an aborted fetus is not a reflection of the sanctity of life, but rather a reflection of a society that prioritizes a woman’s commitment to motherhood above her own aspirations. Life is both an incredible gift and a huge responsibility. The ability to decide whether or not one is not ready to bring life into the world should be available to women so that they can live their own precious life the way they choose.
I personally have a newfound respect for and understanding of the “sanctity” of life after my father unexpectedly died in a freak accident last spring. My father’s death was an extremely painful reminder that life is fragile and can be stolen at any moment. As a young woman enrolled in college, I am now more determined to take advantage of the all the opportunities and privileges available to me than ever before, because I recognize that you never know when something will change your life forever.
There are a lot of things I want to accomplish that my father will never see me do, like graduate college, attend law school, have a career, fall in love, and maybe have a family. But I want to do these things for myself on my own terms. My father was an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood and I know he would support any decision I choose to make about my body and reproductive health. Knowing that I have the right to birth control and a safe and legal abortion in my home state of California gives me peace of mind because I know that I will have control over my body and my ability to bring life into the world.As our nation's political climate becomes increasingly unpredictable and unfriendly to women, I am determined to continue passionately and unapologetically doing the things I love. I relish my ability to choose what I do in life, to take charge of the course of my life, and to be able to freely decide whether or not I want to bring life into the world. And I will fight for the right of every other woman to do the same.
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