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May 6, 2024

Consider This: Opinion, Autonomy and the Reproductive Landscape

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There is an undeniable truth in the notion that acceptance increasingly hinges upon ideological alignment — a phenomenon I must, albeit reluctantly, admit to not being immune to. Indeed, I hold steadfast to my preferences: a proud liberal, champion for Uris over Olin, not at all a Swiftie and a firm believer in George Harrison reigning as the best Beatle. Nonetheless, I hesitate to brand myself as judgmental. Opinionated? Undeniably. Judgmental? While I may be an imperfect narrator of my own story, I believe I tread cautiously along that line.

Their subtle differences aside, the evolution of “opinion” and “judgment” in our societal discourse demands equal scrutiny. In an era marked by stark division, there exists a pressing need to interrogate how the operationalization of certain opinions can cloak the perpetuation of oppressive ideologies and catalyze them into action.

As winter break approached and I readied myself for a much-needed “brain break,” the headlines inundated my phone regarding the Alabama Supreme Court’s IVF ruling that an embryo is a living child. At times, I question why I remain so vulnerable to the effects of such news; this act came as no surprise.

Anti-abortion legislation is not about abortion, and it never has been; it is about dominance, the continued relegation of the female body as a site for degradation and exploitation. The irony of the ruling is palpable, and the objective apparent — now, even wanted pregnancies face attack?

As a lover of language and its nuances, a proponent for effective communication and a staunch advocate for truth, few experiences are as sobering as witnessing baseless opinions, rooted in illiteracy and bigotry, infiltrate both the political and personal realms — now more than ever inextricably entwined.

When the Alabama Supreme Court ruled that frozen embryos are “considered” children, I scoffed. I consider Italian cuisine to be better than French, dogs to be better than cats. There exists a pronounced schism between subjective oppositions and objective tyranny. The “considerations” spurred by such judgments blur the indispensable demarcation between the two, enabling blatant gender violence and obscuring clarity.

As instances like the recent IVF ruling become more prevalent and the rationales behind them increasingly rooted in theocracy, I discern a troubling pattern: the push to convert subjective beliefs into objective truths. Chief Justice Tom Parker’s recent declaration that “even before birth, all human beings bear the image of God, and their lives cannot be destroyed without effacing his glory,” not only undermines a fundamental tenet of democracy by intertwining Church and State but also functions to diminish female personhood.

We find ourselves at a harrowing juncture where vehement affirmations perpetuating a sexist ideology embed truth and trust in Christian nationalism, stripping women of their bodily autonomy — a tyrannically enforced deadlock where we’re forced into pregnancies we neither seek nor can sustain, and denied the ones we yearn for.

As the female body unwillingly continues to emerge as the battleground for ideological skirmishes, there exists scant space for opinion or consideration — unless, of course, the opinions are those of the women themselves.

In succumbing to a narrow, and in this case, Christian-centric notion of personhood and subjectivity, we observe humanity buckle under the weight of a pervasive, opinionated hubris and unsubstantiated opinions exert unprecedented influence.  Navigating these tumultuous waters requires a vigilance against the erosion of fundamental rights and the manipulation of subjective judgments for ulterior motives. 

As a creative writer and advocate for subjectivity, I pen this piece fully aware of its departure from my usual stance: cherishing personal experience as evidence and nuance as a conduit to comprehensive understanding. Yet, paradoxically, where subjectivity once felt liberating, it now feels carceral, offering no escape except compliance with its mandates. 

Nevertheless, it is essential to recognize that opinion and judgment aren’t inherently flawed; a world confined to the barren perspective of an objective, all-knowing truth denies the possibility of what ASU Professor and retired Washington Post journalist Leonard Downie Jr. views as more “trustworthy” journalism. 

Nothing about reproductive autonomy is up for rumination by those who are not enduring the pregnancy themselves. Whether someone of child-bearing ability bases their decision to have or not have an unborn child on financial circumstance, the grace of God or, you bet, just the blatant desire to have or not have a child in itself, the sole arbiter of the matter is the individual concerned.

In the wake of escalating anti-abortion legislation, or more aptly, an anti-woman agenda, I’ve wearily observed what has become glaringly apparent in the recent IVF ruling: subjectivity can precariously sway the course of justice. When entrusted to those who source power in control, subjectivity’s intended purpose to foster inclusivity and autonomy is instead co-opted to curtail freedom and eradicate choice altogether. 

Eve Iulo is a second-year in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. She can be reached at [email protected].