Joanna Swomley: Bocchino, Camillo and Frantz do not respect a woman’s right to control her own body

Letter to the editor from Joanna Swomley, Founder of Indivisible Greenwich, Attorney, Supporter of Civil and Human Rights, and devout Methodist

Are we really prepared to let the government intrusively regulate our bodies and reproductive systems? To force a woman, as Fred Camillo tried to legislate, to undergo a costly, time-consuming and medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure before she can exercise her legal right to have an abortion?

Fred Camillo said last week that he was unaware of the contents of two of the three abortion bills he sponsored after the 2016 election (the other he withdrew).

Yet the ultrasound requirement was in the title of one of them (“An Act Requiring An Ultrasound Procedure Prior To Termination Of A Pregnancy”).

Ultrasounds (some transvaginal) and other humiliating and medically unjustifiable tools are used across the country to dissuade women from exercising their constitutional rights.

These bills attempt to make abortions so difficult and/or costly that women cannot go through with them.

Texas, for example, passed a law in 2017 requiring a woman to pay for a funeral for an aborted fetus. The male members of the Greenwich Delegation (State Reps Bocchino, Camillo and Sen. Scott Frantz) have all gone on record opposing a woman’s right to make her own reproductive decisions.

They are clear in their opposition to, and intent to undermine, a fundamental, Constitutional right that over half the population possesses.

Stated differently, these men are perfectly comfortable using their elected positions to force their personal religious views on women in Connecticut who do not share those views.

If re-elected, they affirmatively intend to deprive women of the right to control their own bodies and decisions. Should women lose their federal right to abortion in the event Roe v. Wade is overturned, Connecticut legislators will be in the drivers’ seats.

For those of us who believe that a woman’s liberty, control over her own body, and right to decide if and when she will undertake the massive responsibility of motherhood are essential human rights, we cannot support those like Messrs. Bocchino, Camillo or Frantz who want to take them away.

Abortion is not a dirty word and the government has no place mandating compulsory pregnancy.

First, we live in a secular country where one’s personal religion does not provide an excuse to force his/her beliefs on others. That is the essence of religious liberty.

Indeed, once we grant the state the right to control pregnancy, is it far-fetched to assume that right could also extend to forcing terminations? Do we really think it is the government’s role to decide whether a woman must remain pregnant or to abort her pregnancy? They are mirror images of one another.

As one bumper sticker says, “Keep your laws off my body.” Second, those who invoke religious beliefs to deny a woman her fundamental autonomy and right of control are misinformed.

My father, a noted theologian and civil libertarian examined scripture and theological arguments and persuasively debunked religious machinations used to exercise control over a woman’s body.

In one book, “Compulsory Pregnancy: The War Against American Women,” he notes that opposition to abortion developed relatively recently in US history, with the greatly distorted Pro-Life Pastoral of the Catholic bishops in 1975. He refutes from a Christian, scriptural standpoint the underpinnings of that position – specifically that life begins at conception rather than at birth.

In short, compulsory pregnancy is contrary to religious liberty and finds no refuge in Christian scripture. Interestingly, in Numbers 5:11-31, God commands Moses to have a priest mix a potion to be given to a man’s wife if she were unfaithful. As described, that potion, along with other side effects, would most certainly produce an abortion. And, in Exodus 21: 22-25, when one of two fighting men accidentally strikes a woman causing her to miscarry, there was no criminal penalty. Rather, the appropriate remedy for the one who inflicted the blow was to pay money in compensation (damages). Only if the woman herself is injured or killed, was the more extreme penalty of “an eye for an eye” or a “life for a life” warranted.

Religion, along with sexism, societal and other beliefs, has been used for millennia to impose rules and restrictions on women that keep them from enjoying societal equality.

It is time for all of us to stop looking for excuses to control the bodies of others. If you do not like or believe in abortion, you do not have to have one. But please don’t try to stop others from making their own informed decisions.

This November, we must vote Sen. Frantz, and Reps. Bocchino and Camillo, who do not respect a woman’s right to control her own body, out of office – or risk the very serious consequences of that choice.

Joanna Swomley, Founder of Indivisible Greenwich, Attorney, Supporter of Civil and Human Rights, and devout Methodist

Note: The deadline for letters in support of candidates in the November 6, 2018 election is Monday, October 29, 2018.

Not all letters will be published. Instead we will select a sampling of letters.