Staff Columnist

It's time to debate men's right to control their reproductive organs

State Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, speaks Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, during a Senate floor debate on a constitutional am
State Sen. Jim Carlin, R-Sioux City, speaks Thursday, Feb. 13, 2020, during a Senate floor debate on a constitutional amendment dealing with abortion.The Senate passed the reolution on a party-line vote, the first step in putting the proposal before Iowa voters. (Rod Boshart/Gazette Des Moines Bureau)

On Feb. 13, I listened to a bunch of men discuss what I should or should not do with my uterus. Specifically, the Iowa Senate was debating the proposed constitutional amendment that would deny women the right to an abortion.

The Iowa GOP has tried really hard to limit access to this lifesaving and medically necessary procedure for years, and each time, they’ve been struck down by the courts. Justices have told the GOP time and time again, that making decisions about our own bodies is a constitutional right. “Autonomy and dominion over one’s body go to the very heart of what it means to be free,” then-Chief Justice Mark Cady wrote.

The GOP’s solution: change the constitution. Their logic is that they are protecting Iowans from pesky “activist” judges. That’s all. So, last week, man after Republican man stood and pontificated on freedom and rights for everyone (except women), bodily autonomy (but not for women), choices (but not for women). Sen. Jim Carlin, shouted that “we need to see people as people,” while arguing for a constitutional amendment that would fundamentally refuse to see women as people. He noted that in America we have a right to life and to bodily boundaries, while arguing in favor of an amendment that would strip Iowa women of those rights.

Just once, I’d love to have the ability to debate a man’s right to his prostate. I’d love to see woman after woman stand up in the state capitol and talk about whether the constitution in fact guarantees men a right to their testicles?

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Sen. Zach Whiting was a little more gentle, but a lot more ridiculous. Whiting argued that because the word abortion doesn’t appear in the constitution, we shouldn’t have a right to one. Which is a baffling turn of logic. You know what other words aren’t in the constitution? “Assault rifle” and “testicles,” that doesn’t mean these men don’t vigorously want to keep both.

And this debate about whether women should be able to make their own health care choices took place not long after a celebration of the 19th Amendment, which 100 years ago gave women the right to vote. This means that the only effective thing the Republicans have done this year is murder irony.

One hundred years after women won the right to vote, the Iowa GOP wants to take away their right to control their own uterus.

I am 37 years old. And while Roe v. Wade has been the law of the land my whole life, I’ve heard people debate my right to make my own health care choices. This right has been debated in classrooms as assignments, I’ve heard it shouted about on televisions, discussed during bleary nights at bars, written about in the pages of newspapers and magazines. It’s the daily onslaught of do you have the right to control your body? Are you smart enough? Are you informed enough, or are you too selfish? And selfish in this context just means, you don’t want a life of poverty or experience the wage theft and discrimination perpetuated against mothers.

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It’s exhausting to be here again, listening to legions of aging white men, men who have never nursed a child or gotten stitches on their vulvas, men who couldn’t point out a vulva in a line up, tell me what to do with mine.

Just once, I’d love to have the ability to debate a man’s right to his prostate. I’d love to see woman after woman stand up in the Capitol and talk about whether the constitution in fact guarantees men a right to their testicles? Well does it? Using Sen. Whiting’s logic, I’m not so sure it does. Vasectomies for everyone!

lyz.lenz@thegazette.com; 319-368-8513

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