How did reproductive health issues contribute to the commodification of women?


Reproductive health issues are among the most prominent topics that the feminist movement struggled for, especially as it considers women’s access to fair and free services as one of the most prominent priorities that will help women obtain their sexual and economic freedom and provide them with equal opportunities in the fields of work and education.

For this reason, the decision of the US Constitutional Court issued in June 2022 on the invalidity of the abortion right law raised a lot of controversy, as the decision to abortion is no longer legal, and the right of a woman to terminate her pregnancy is no longer protected by the United States Constitution, but rather each state is empowered to choose its own judgment about it, which It called for an alert by women’s rights activists and organizations in America and around the world, considering it a sharp setback and a retreat from the achievements made by the feminist movement globally.

In light of the sharp polarization caused by women’s issues in our Arab and Islamic countries, and the current that wants to import the Western experience in its entirety, it was necessary to follow the scenes of this decision and know the reasons calling for it. in the world” for its support for women, especially with the presence of an overwhelming current of associations, organizations, movements and women’s groupings.

Feminist struggle and reproductive health issues, back to the beginning

Talking about ensuring sexual freedom for women began since the second feminist wave that lasted between 1960 and 1990 AD, which presented more mature, deeper and more comprehensive intellectual propositions than the demand for equality with men. Women were exposed to it during previous ages, and this period was also characterized by a boom in values ​​and perceptions, focusing on the necessity of access to contraceptives and the adoption of the right to legal abortion guaranteed by governments and protected.

Margaret Sanger is considered the first feminist to open a birth control clinic in the United States of America, as a result of her belief that controlling family size is crucial to ending the cycle of women’s poverty. She then founded the American Birth Control Association, but at the same time supported the New Jersey Supreme Court’s decision to forcibly sterilize people deemed “unfit” black and disabled people, without their consent and sometimes without their knowledge and against their will.

The decision of the US Constitutional Court issued in June 2022 on the invalidity of the abortion right law raised a lot of controversy. By women’s rights activists and organizations in America and around the world as a severe setback.

The contraceptive pill was used legally for the first time in the United States in 1960, and it achieved a great spread among the audience of married women wishing to control birth. Abortion did not become legal until the seventies of the last century, when the contagion of the legalization of abortion from the United States to more than 50 countries where the restrictions placed around it varied, and abortion rates around the world rose to reach 25% of pregnancies today.

Contraceptives have been presented since the second feminist wave as an important tool for achieving social justice, especially as they allowed women and the family to plan pregnancy and maintain their health and reduce the number of individuals and families and what this requires from the health care system sponsored by the state, and also allowed women – especially adolescents and young women By investing their lives, graduating from high school, enrolling in and graduating from university without disrupting their professional, academic or emotional life as a result of an unwanted pregnancy. They are considered to be the breadwinners of their families, as well as a way to reduce the gender wage gap.

Emerging markets and black markets

Reproductive health industries have grown as a result of the increasing need, and some of them have become competitive and profitable economic markets, for example, the global market for contraceptive drugs was estimated at 16.6 billion US dollars in 2021, when this market is expected to grow to 28.8 Billion dollars by 2029. As for the abortion market, it varies from one country to another. However, it is remarkable that abortions have turned into income- and profit-generating operations for associations and clinics that carry out them in some countries.

For example, the abortion clinics of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America control 27.5% of the abortion market, and the market value of this organization is 1 billion dollars, and its total financial revenues, 42 years after its establishment as a service provider, reached 1.2 billion dollars for the fiscal year 2012, and the net revenues in excess of expenditures amounted to approximately 87.4 million dollars, as its revenues were distributed between 17% in the form of gifts and aid, 26% of these revenues generated by the clinic’s operations, and 57% came from abortion services.

Some investigative reports revealed the scenes of the black economic market provided by legal abortions, where the availability of aborted fetuses contributed to achieving economic gains by creating a wide and profitable market for tissues of the electively aborted fetus, which contributed to the growth of the pharmaceutical industry market in general and the cosmetic industry market In particular, these are markets that could not have developed without a legal and protected abortion structure.

Pharmaceutical and research companies claim that fetal tissues are mainly used in the development of bacterial and viral vaccines, blood components, tissues, allergens, somatic cells and therapeutic proteins, but evidence indicates that they are more used in the manufacture of cosmetics and anti-aging preparations due to the ability of these cells to develop skin tissue Reducing the signs of aging and wrinkles, as the fetal tissues contain a large number of highly proliferating immature cells with a high ability to adapt.

The cost of a single treatment session, which is based on injecting liquid fetal tissue, reached $25,000. These sessions help in reviving the skin, improving appearance, quality of life and sexual desire. There are many legal and illegal clinics around the world that provide such services and import these tissues from this market. Protected by a scientific research cover.

Some evidence indicates that Planned Parenthood clinics also participated in 33 clinical trials, one third of which were conducted on adolescents aged 13-18 years. These trials focused on birth control, emergency contraception and some medical abortion techniques, especially medical abortion. Despite these clinics’ claims She participated in support of research and the pharmaceutical industry, but it is not known if she received a profit from her participation in clinical trials.

Accusations were also made that some of these clinics, through intermediaries, paid Ukrainian women about 200-300 dollars in salary over a period of three months in order to transfer their pregnancies to a very late stage, and then give birth to the babies alive in a form of forced premature birth, allowing The procedure harvests the organs of a live child while they are still as fresh as possible. This is in an attempt to circumvent laws that place severe restrictions on late abortions in many countries.

Laws to support justice or to enrich pockets on women’s bodies

Reproductive health issues turned into political issues that topped the list of electoral programs, in which political parties tried to woo women and human rights activists by advocating some of the current social issues and exploiting public opinion and its interests to reach positions of power.

Despite the increasing number of American voices supporting the abolition of the abortion right law recently, these voices were limited and weak, and did not rise to the point of pressure on policy makers, despite their slogans demanding the expansion of the concept of equal rights for all – including “unborn” fetuses, and defending the Everyone has the right to life in its full phase “from the womb to the grave”, as many analyzes indicate that the adoption of the law to abolish the right to abortion did not come with the aim of protecting women, but rather came for political goals. No one is moving to stop it. Indeed, the recent repeal of this law came as a political attempt by the Republican Party to unite its ranks against the Democrats by targeting the Christian Right.

The abortion market has grown under the hearing of governments and under the pretext of protecting women and respecting their choices, and has turned into a dark trade that is not regulated by ethical standards that are demanded by government, educational and commercial institutions under the pretext of participating in research and development in the field of biotechnology and medicines, but its profits poured into the pockets of those in charge of the cosmetic industry Aesthetics in the first place.

On the other hand, no one cared that abortion is considered the number one killer in the black community, even if the death rates of black women were three times the rates of white women for pregnancy-related causes, in addition to the fact that black women constitute nearly 40% of those who perform abortions in America, This group was left facing this danger amid neglect and indifference.

Here, as women, we must stop and raise more ethical questions, about whether the laws enacted to protect women were launched from real motives, or were they launched for political motives that used social demands and rode the wave to obtain interim gains, and then turned against them later to achieve other political gains.

Were women’s ambitions and desires to achieve independence and equality indirectly exploited?

What are the roles of developing economic markets that exploited women’s needs, and used them as a commodity that benefited from them in achieving more profits, and in formulating public decisions and policies?

Did the profits of the contraceptive pill and abortion markets – assuming their intention to develop drugs – contribute to supporting the demands and health of women, especially the poor and marginalized groups, or did they turn under the guise of science and development to slaughterhouses in which people turn into a commodity or a raw material for other industries?

Reproductive health issues have been presented in a brilliant way, focusing on one aspect of supporting women’s decisions and their rights and neglecting at the same time the rights of the fetus and making the decision of his life in the hands of one individual in which circumstances are manipulated without protection, and women’s issues have been invested and exploited in the advanced industrial countries or in the underdeveloped countries on the Both to achieve political or economic gains, which requires us to take courageous stances to evaluate the “achievements” that women have been deluded to achieve in an accurate and impartial manner, away from emotions and struggle slogans. For political purposes, and that this manipulation can be repeated in different ways to obtain benefits that women may be victims of and far from their benefits.

the reviewer

A feminist who supports forced sterilization.. Margaret Sanger, owner of the first birth control clinic, Al Jazeera Net website, publication date 9/8/2021.

How the contraceptive pill “bred” an economic revolution, BBC Arabic, 2017

Abortion: Why is a group of American youth against it and considering its prevention their battle? BBC Arabic website, 2022

Commercial Markets Created by Abortion: Profiting from the Fetal Distribution Chain, Victoria Evans, 2013.

CommerCial markets Created by abortion, A Commentary of The National Catholic Bioethics Center on Health Care and the Life Sciences, 2010

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