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Puerto Rico: Bloggers discuss Roe v. Wade

The 37th anniversary of the landmark United States Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade (January 22, 1973)  spurred bloggers in Puerto Rico to express their opinions about a ruling that still sparks controversy. The decision made abortion legal in the United States, and it was extended to Puerto Rico due to the Island's political relationship with the US (Puerto Rico is a US commonwealth). Feminist bloggers from Puerto Rico, all of them pro-choice, joined to voice their thoughts on occasion of the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. We have also included the opinion of bloggers on the other side of the debate.

Feminist lawyer Verónica RT explains in her blog Mujeres en Puerto Rico [ES] that when it comes to abortion women's voices are still silenced:

Sin embargo, y a pesar de que ya van casi cuatro décadas desde el reconocimiento de tal derecho, el aborto continúa siendo un tabú, las historias de las mujeres que han abortado son silenciadas, y el espacio retórico ha sido casi completamente ocupado por las corrientes fundamentalistas que utilizan la religión como justificación para subordinar a las mujeres…Nos corresponde, entonces, a nosotras velar por ser las autoras de nuestras propias historias, sin intervención indebida del Estado ni de nuestras parejas, ni de una sociedad aún machista. Después de todo, la historia de nuestra emancipación la escribiremos nosotras. Nadie más.

Although more than four decades have passed since this right was recognized, abortion is still a taboo. Stories of women who have had an abortion are silenced, and the rhetoric space has been almost completely occupied by fundamentalists who use religion to justify the subordination of women…It is our task to be the writers of our own stories, without having the State or our partners’ intervening, nor a sexist society. After all, we are the ones who will write the story of our liberation. No one else.

Photo by Punkassphotos. Republished under a CC Licence.

Photo by Punkassphotos. Republished under a CC Licence.

Feminist blogger Nahomi Galindo also explains [ES] her position:

La experiencia de la maternidad varía de mujer en mujer. Defender el derecho al aborto no significa obligar a las mujeres a realizárselo; por el contrario, implica que las mujeres que lo necesiten tengan la libertad de elegir sin ser perseguidas ni exponerse a morir en el proceso. Por eso es importante recordar un lema feminista que dice: “Imagina que te prohibieran parir. Ahora imagina que te obligaran”. En esta frase invita a reflexionar sobre cuán macabro es ejercer el poder sobre el cuerpo de la mujer sin incluirla en la decisión.

Women experience motherhood in different ways. To defend the right of abortion does not mean to force women to have an abortion. On the contrary, it means that women who need an abortion should have the freedom to choose, without being persecuted nor exposing themselves to dying as part of the procedure.  This is why it’s important to remember the feminist slogan that says: “Imagine if you were prohibited to have children. Now imagine that you were forced to.” This phrase invites us to reflect on how terrible it is to exercise power over women’s bodies without including her in the decision.

Every woman should have the power to decide over her body and health. When we speak in public about abortion what we are asking is that women who need an abortion may have access to a free, safe and hygienic procedure, without being criminalized for it. We also claim for a responsible sexual education that includes information on pregnancy prevention not limited to the disastrous pro-abstinence campaign.

In her blog Promesa Política [ES], Mariana Iriarte expresses her thoughts:

Cuando me preguntan por qué, aún siendo madre, defiendo el derecho al aborto siempre contesto que lo defiendo porque tener un hijo fue mi decisión. El cuerpo de las mujeres debe estar en el ámbito de agencia de éstas, no en el Estado, la sociedad o la religión. Decidir qué hacer con tu cuerpo y controlar tu sistema reproductivo es un derecho fundamental que, de ninguna manera, debiera ser regulado por el Estado.

When I am asked why I defend the right of abortion, although I am a mother, I always say it is because I decided to have a child. Women should be able to exercise agency over their bodies, not the State, society or religion. To be able to decide what to do with your body, and control your reproductive system, is a fundamental right that should not be regulated by the State.

According to feminist blogger and Philosophy student Sahir Pujols [ES] people must first define when life begins:

Reflexiones sobre la limitación de la mujer ante un evento como el de reproducir una criatura. Estas limitaciones, si es que deben de existir, no pueden estar basadas en la concepción de un credo religioso fundamentalista, sino sobre las reflexiones de cuándo comienza la vida y el uso de la libertad. Según las investigaciones de la neurobiología del feto, reseñadas por el bioeticista y neurocientífico Michael Gazzaniga, se puede concluir que podemos conceder una categoría ética al feto desde el sexto mes de gestación. ¿Cuál es el criterio para hacer este señalamiento? El desarrollo del sistema nervioso con el cual el feto comienza a experimentar estados de conciencia.

Reflections on the limits of a woman before an event such as the reproduction of a child. These limits, if they must exist, should not be based on the belief of a fundamentalist religious creed, but rather on a reflection on when life begins and the use of freedom. According to research by the neurobiologist Michael Gazzaniga, we can conclude that we can give an ethical category to the fetus beginning on the sixth month of gestation. What are the criteria used to reach this conclusion? This is when the nervous system develops, by which the fetus starts to experience states of consciousness.

Blogger Michael Castro has a different take [ES] on the abortion debate:

Como cristiano estoy en contra del aborto. Considero que es un crimen un asesinato de una inocente criatura que no tuvo culpa de ser concebido. Aún así entiendo a la mujer violada que quiera hacerse un aborto y no puedo decir que sea un crimen en aquellos casos donde la vida de la madre está en eminente riesgo. Leí Roe vs Wade y tampoco puedo estar en desacuerdo con el razonamiento de la Corte Suprema, cada mujer tiene pleno derecho a hacer con su cuerpo lo que desee y el Estado no puede coartar ese derecho…Como todo en la vida los derechos pueden ser abusados… Menores de edad usando el aborto como método para controlar la natalidad. ¿Qué pasó con la educación sexual? ¿Qué pasó con los contraceptivos? ¿Qué pasó con el respeto a la vida?

As a Christian I am against abortion. I believe that it is a crime to kill an innocent child who is not responsible for having been conceived. Having said that, I also understand that a raped woman might want an abortion, and I cannot say it is a crime when the mother’s life is in danger. I read Roe vs Wade, and I cannot be against the reasoning behind the Supreme Court’s opinion that every woman has the right to decide over her body, and that the State cannot intervene in this…As with everything in life, rights can also be abused…There are minors who are using abortion to control natality. What happened with sexual education? What happened with birth control methods? What happened with the respect for life?

The photo was taken from Fotopedia. Please visit PunkassPhotos photostream on Flickr.

  • M.V.Sankaran

    Even before Roe V.Wade was decided by the Honorable U.S.Supreme Court in 1973, there was liberalization of abortion rights and also, a proper procedure for the same was prescribed in the U.K. through the Abortion Act, 1967. In India too, the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act, 1971, was based more or less on it, but with the ‘improvement’ that recourse to abortion in the first trimester could be had by a woman by adopting the prescribed procedure on the ground of ‘failure of contraceptive used as a family planning measure’, which failure is more often asserted than proved strictly. Eugenic (as in the case of fetal abnormalities noticed during pre-natal testing), therapeutic (in order to save the life of the mother or her health from being permanently impaired) and humanitarian grounds (as in the case of rape, marital rape or incest victims) for seeking abortion have been built into it. Pre-natal gender testing procedures (through ultrasound techniques) are, however, allegedly being abused in India to seek abortion of female fetuses as there is an emphasis on having sons rather than daughters in a male-dominated society, which is slowly changing now.

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