In case you’ve ever heard the lie that representation in politics isn’t important, here’s a not-so-casual reminder that yes, it actually is: According to a new report by Rewire, almost every anti-choice bill introduced in 2016 was introduced by — you guessed it — a white male Republican.
Here’s the exact breakdown, from Rewire: “Of the 167 anti-choice bills introduced in January 2017, 71 percent (119 bills) were sponsored by white Republican men, while 25 percent (41 bills) were sponsored by white Republican women.
“90 percent of the 147 anti-choice bills introduced in the first month of 2016 were sponsored by white Republicans.”
In essence, men who will never be able to empathize with a low-income woman of color, living in a radically conservative state and with an unwanted pregnancy, are calling the shots on what people in situations they’ll never be able to understand are able to do. Empathy and representation are key to the sort of laws that get passed — it’s hard for those with privilege to fully recognize the humanity of those they’ll never be able to relate to, and in the same vein, it’s even harder to fight for the human rights of people whose humanity they’re incapable of fully recognizing.
It’s a vicious cycle that frankly only diversity and representation in politics could ever really fix.
Cherisse Scott, CEO and founder of SisterReach, a reproductive justice advocacy organization, perhaps put it best when she told Rewire, “They do not care about [people of color’s] babies or our lives because our voices and lived experiences are not centered in their decision making or policy crafting. This is not about our babies, because any other time they have an opportunity to center us, they do not—not economically or not environmentally.”
They just can’t relate, so they don’t care. They don’t care about women, so they trample women’s autonomy and assign them less value and rights than fertilized eggs. Last month alone, 167 bills infringing on access to abortion were introduced across the nation, up from 147 in January 2016. It appears that in 2017, unfortunately, we’re only going to be seeing more of this.