Gun violence has always been a problem in the US, and will continue to be if no action is taken. Shootings happen so frequently that the BBC referred to the most recent San Bernardino shooting as “just another day in the United States of America”.
However, the recent attack on a Planned Parenthood clinic highlights another important issue: not gun control, but reproductive rights.
The shooter, right-wing activist Robert Lewis Dear, Jnr, killed three people in the abortion clinic, which is highly ironic as he considers himself to be “pro-life”, or anti-abortion. The conservative American society is generally quite hostile towards abortion – even though it was declared as a right in a 1973 Supreme Court decision.
Given that Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the US and receives millions of dollars in government grants, it is easy to see why it has long been the target of conservative extremists.
Even before the shooting, Planned Parenthood clinics have been harassed on a daily basis. It has become such a problem that the NGO has had to employ volunteer escorts to usher patients into the clinics and protect them from the verbal – and physical – abuse that may be thrown at them. The chaos you see outside a Planned Parenthood clinic is normally reserved for red-carpet arrivals, not for women who merely want to exercise their right to terminate a pregnancy.
Sure, there are people who genuinely believe that abortion is murder (a viewpoint which I would very much refute). They have the absolute right to voice their opinions out loud, but there is a difference between attacking the practice and attacking the women themselves.
The violence displayed by the supposed “pro-lifers” is similar to that of the Fascist Italian Squadrismo from the 1920s. It’s vile, it’s disgusting, and it’s putrid. One wonders why it’s still tolerated in a relatively-advanced society such as the United States. Is it because they’re speaking, well, screeching the loudest? The answer is beyond me.
Compared to Hong Kong, US laws regarding abortion are, in fact, a bit more liberal. However, we see that the liberalisation of the law often fails to produce an equivalent effect on public opinion. Though we may have stricter abortion laws in Hong Kong, we are often more tolerant of mothers who choose to go through such a procedure.
I am only a supporter of abortion as a last resort. Contraception should be the go-to method for preventing unwanted pregnancies. However, depriving women of the choice to terminate a pregnancy is just cruel. It’s high time we respect every woman’s right over their own bodies and give them the freedom to decide.