Jonathan Kraut | Who Owns the Body of a Woman?

Jonathan Kraut

This November on our ballots will be Proposition 1. The Democratic Legislature is offering to codify the right to an abortion to be applied to the state Constitution. This amendment would protect and safeguard a woman’s right to choose regarding whether to have an abortion. 

The recent overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court removes federal protection of women’s medical and family choices. This decision also applies a specific religious and philosophical view upon women that they may not hold. 

Further, the reversal of Roe v. Wade removes the right to privacy regarding whether a woman is pregnant and for how long has she been carrying.  

In anticipation to this reversal of this policy, a proposed constitutional amendment, now called Proposition 1, was passed with the overwhelming support of both Democratic Party-controlled state chambers in June. If approved, Prop. 1 would bar the state from denying or interfering with a woman’s right to choose an abortion and allowing her choice regarding the use of contraceptives. 

Simply stated, Prop. 1 would allow a woman to make medical decisions and whether to have children without government interference, within certain parameters. 

The option to have an abortion is not such a complex issue. Simply put, the question is who owns a woman’s body: Is it the woman or is it the government?

If the government owns a woman’s body, a woman has no right to privacy regarding whether she is pregnant, the government has a right to know how many weeks she is carrying, and the government can block her choices regarding medical and family decisions, regardless of what is in her best interest or what options she may wish to select. 

In other words, “the right to life” in this situation literally means the government controls a woman’s body. 

While of course it is sad and disappointing if a woman is forced to end a pregnancy, should the government be empowered to step in and remove these reproductive options from her? If the government has control over a woman’s body, does government also own the children a woman is forced to carry and give birth to?  

Oddly, conservatives who generally proclaim that government should not interfere with the choices of a person and support “personal freedoms,” wish at the same time to control medical and family decisions of women. 

Often, the anti-abortion crowd base their wish to control a woman’s reproductive choice on their religious views. In other words, many conservatives want not only to own a woman’s body, but also to apply their philosophical views on others that may not share these religious views. 

There is even a push by some conservatives to outlaw the use of contraceptives altogether. Imagine if the government could eliminate the option of preventing pregnancy. What next, the government would decide with whom a woman could sleep?  

Sadly, these views imply that the woman’s body does not belong to her. Her body and her choices are in the hands of the government. 

In 1969 the California State Supreme Court ruled that the California constitution’s right to privacy implies a woman’s right to have an abortion and that government has to butt out. 

How you vote on Prop. 1 comes down to this: Do your personal religious views take precedence over the views of another, and does the government have a right to control the medical choices of women, i.e., own her body?

When it comes time to vote several weeks out from now, I hope you see the big picture. Prop. 1 is more than just about the right to choose an abortion. A broader view is whether government can dictate the choices of an individual and if government has supremacy over personal choice. 

While this broader perspective might be a tough pill to swallow for many of us, I propose voting yes on Prop. 1 in November, not because I favor abortion, but because I don’t want government applying religious views that are telling a woman what she can and cannot do. 

Jonathan Kraut directs a private investigations agency, is the CEO of a private security firm, is the CFO of an accredited acting conservatory, a published author, and Democratic Party activist. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal or of other organizations. 

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