Recognizing the dignity of women and promoting justice for women are essential to our democracy. In particular, women’s right to privacy regarding their reproductive decisions is directly tied to their dignity and moral authority as human beings, and the recognition that it is exactly by sexual violation, coercion, and control by others that women’s right to justice has been denied. True pro-life legislation protects both women in their bodies from the coercive power of the state and protects the life of the unborn by addressing the social, economic, and medical realities that create many of the circumstances that lead to abortion. The protection of women’s bodies from the coercive power of the state is a constitutionally protected liberty interest. Women have the right to make all decisions concerning their bodies, including their reproductive health. We only have to look at our current global reality of forced sterilizations, nonconsensual childhood marriage, forced pregnancy, forced abortion, and female genital mutilation where women do not have a constitutionally guaranteed right to their own bodies to understand how misguided the debate on these issues is. In many cases, these constitutionally guaranteed rights are also ignored and abused in our nation.

True pro-life legislation would wage a cultural war on poverty. Indiana is the 6th worst state in the nation with regard to the gender pay gap.[1] Women who work full time earn only 74% of what men make. This gap only increases for African American, Hispanic, and Native American women. Additionally, infant care costs are 15.6% of the median Hoosier family income.[2] Maternal mortality rates during pregnancy in Indiana are 1.75 times that of the national average.[3] More than 8 percent of Hoosier women are raped before they reach the age of 18.[4] These statistics are unacceptable. All women should have the ability to access safe, affordable, local, and high-quality health care. Ensuring dignity and justice for women must include a commitment to supporting struggling families and children, to safe and affordable housing, to quality public education, and to life-long social services that are essential to the health and well-being of individuals and their families.

[1] American Association of University Women (AAUW) 2017, The Simple Truth about the Gender Pay Gap, https://www.aauw.org/aauw_check/pdf_download/show_pdf.php?file=The-Simple-Truth

[2] Economic Policy Institute (EPI) 2016, Child Care Costs in the United States, http://www.epi.org/child-care-costs-in-the-united-states/

[3] America’s Health Rankings 2016, United Health Foundation, 2016 Health of Women and Children Report, https://www.americashealthrankings.org/explore/2016-health-of-women-and-children-report/measure/maternal_mortality/state/IN

[4] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2017, The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey: 2010-2012 State Report, https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/NISVS-StateReportBook.pdf