Don’t remember? Never heard of it? Okay, well, here’s a quick summary.
A sixteen year old girl named Esperanza from the Dominican Republican desperately needed chemotherapy. She’d die if she didn’t receive medical care, but was denied the treatment because she was 9 weeks pregnant. She was also denied the right to an abortion because in her country, this medical procedure is banned even in the cases of critical health conditions. The Constitution of the Dominican Republic states, "the right to life is inviolable from the moment of conception and until death." Notice how this constitution fails to mention who exactly has the right to life.
It took the people in power about a month to decide that just maybe the teenage girl’s life was worth saving. But by then it was too late. And now we’re left with, "If only her life was made a priority without the month long debate…"
Yes, this story is tragic. Yes, she was only sixteen. And yes, this happens everywhere. It can happen in the United States. While adults in the United States do not need to receive the consent of someone else to receive medical treatment (although certain representatives are trying to change that), young people still require parental consent.
As people who strive for equality and fight for sexual and reproductive health and rights, we don’t presume to know what the lives of others are like. So we don’t assume that a parent is always the best person to talk to, or at least we try not to.
When we talk about reproductive health and rights, who are we really talking about though? Are we even on the same page? There seems to be a large scale of erasure going on in the majority of these discussions. Do we all realize that not only women can get pregnant? And that not all women can get pregnant? Do we all understand that the color of our skin definitely affects our choices in this issue? Do we all get that young people are also entitled to have reproductive health and rights?
What will it take? And how many other stories like Esperanza’s are being neglected?