I generally choose to stay apolitical in my business and endeavor to focus specifically on what it centers around - acupuncture, functional medicine, hyponsis, and expanding the social awareness of these forms of medicine.
However, recent changes in the political climate have shifted so significantly in some parts of the United States (and the world, we’re not alone in the women’s reproductive rights issues), that I feel it warrants bringing attention to some of the specifics around women’s health - something I deal with both as a practitioner, and as a woman myself.
For those unaware, Alabama recently passed the most restrictive anti-abortion law in the country.* Counter to the 1973 landmark decision by Roe v. Wade that set in place national access to legal and safe abortion**, this law outlaws abortion at any stage of pregnancy unless the mother’s life is in danger or there is a lethal fetal abnormality. It makes no exceptions for cases of rape or incest, incest being classified by the World Health Organization as a “silent health emergency” in 2014.***
It’s been a while since health class, so let me lay out some basic biology for you. We discuss “women’s reproductive rights” but who are we classifying as “women”? Biologically speaking, it’s anyone born with female anatomy. But when you hear the word “woman” what do you think? A mother, a small business owner, a college or graduate student; generally someone over the age of 18.
What do we think about when we consider a 12 year old girl? Rarely do we refer to her as a “woman.” In most of our minds in the US, she is a child and will continue to be one for quite a few more years. In Alabama, she won’t be able to legally operate a vehicle until she’s 15. She won’t be able to legally vote until she’s 18.
Why are these numbers important? They’re important because according to a 2014 cross-sectional analysis of 610 female participants, the average age of menarche, the onset of the monthly period, is 12.8 years of age****. Which means if a 12 year old girl in Alabama is raped while ovulating and pregnancy results, she will be forced to carry that pregnancy to term. She will have to wait 3 years before she can drive a car and 6 years before she can vote, but she will be forced to give birth. A 1996 study found that “rape-related pregnancy occurs with significant frequency” and that “among 34 cases of rape-related pregnancy, the majority occurred among adolescents and resulted from assault by a known, often related perpetrator.”*****
The people who passed this law are enacting legislation that could potentially result in forcing children who currently exist to shoulder the burden of bearing children that are the result of rape, in the name of “protecting the children.”
There is so much more here to unpack that I’m not going to get into today because it would result in a book instead of a blog post. But I wanted everyone to remember just how many females this law can affect. Suffice to say, every girl and woman should have access to appropriate healthcare and a legal, safe abortion. It’s up to us to help protect that right. Please take a moment to donate to Planned Parenthood and the Yellowhammer Fund.
References: (Correspond to the number of asterisks due to editing issues with superscripts)
3. Yildirim A, Ozer E, Bozkurt H, et al. Evaluation of social and demographic characteristics of incest cases in a university hospital in Turkey. Med Sci Monit. 2014;20:693–697. Published 2014 Apr 26. doi:10.12659/MSM.890361
4. Cabrera SM, Bright GM, Frane JW, Blethen SL, Lee PA. Age of thelarche and menarche in contemporary US females: a cross-sectional analysis. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2014;27(1-2):47–51. doi:10.1515/jpem-2013-0286
5. Holmes MM, Resnick HS, et al. Rape-related pregnancy: estimates and descriptive characteristics from a national sample of women. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1996 Aug; 175(2):320-4