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Showing women ‘who’s boss’

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“The small proportion of women and girls who aren’t using contraceptives account for half of all abortions in America,” according to the Guttmacher Institute. One might suppose, then, that these men would work to prevent unintended pregnancy (hence some abortions) through use of contraceptives. Apparently not.

But there are other ways to put “uppity” women in their place, especially those wishing to end a pregnancy.

In Oklahoma, we have statesanctioned rape for such women.

Specifically, House Bill 2780, which passed the Legislature in 2010, has not gone into effect because of a court challenge. That challenge, brought by the New York-based Center for Reproductive Rights and others, will be heard in Oklahoma County District Court on March 30.

That law, if not struck down in court, requires a woman to endure an ultrasound probe inserted in her vagina if that method produces the best image — and it does during the first trimester. That’ll show uppity women who’s boss.

But there’s more! Senate Bill 1433, the Personhood bill, gives a fertilized human egg “all the rights, privileges, and immunities available to other persons, citizens, and residents of this state.” It passed the Oklahoma Senate (on a 34-to-8 vote) and is in the House.

Dr. Eli Reshef, a reproductive endocrinology and infertility specialist in Oklahoma City, says this bill will “outlaw the use of certain contraceptives (morning-after pill, intrauterine devise, or IUD, and perhaps even other hormonal contraceptives) … and severely limit the practice of in vitro fertilization.” He concludes that Personhood measures “have been promoted by Personhood USA, an anti-abortion group out of Colorado, in order to defeat Roe v. Wade.”

Speaking of Roe v. Wade (which became law in 1973), an image embedded in my mind is the photograph of a dead, naked woman, a victim of a criminal abortion, in a kneeling position, with her face on the floor and a bloody butt in the air. The inscription read “Never Again: Death, Politics and Abortion.” Ms. magazine published that photo (which I still have) in the spring of 2002.

Looks as if the “Never Again” was a bit hasty. Today, the “barefoot and pregnant” crowd is, incredibly, going after contraception.

—Wanda Jo Stapleton, Oklahoma City

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