In many states in America, it's easier to own a gun than a uterus. True story.
Research has already shown that in many states, buying a gun is as easy as buying a vegan gluten-free breakfast in Williamsburg. Easy-Peasy. No questions asked. You're in and you're out. A legal medical procedure like an abortion, however, is more like looking for a subway seat in Manhattan that doesn't smell like pee. It's gonna take a while. This map of the United States courtesy of Jan Diehm and Katy Hall at the Huffington Post says it all. It shows a country where states are twice as likely to require waiting periods for abortions, than for gun ownership. The map also shows the inherant hypocrisy of these laws. In states where women's reproductive choices are the most restricted, gun owners experience the most freedom. So if it's all about personal liberty, why are gun owners unimpeded and uterus owners enslaved to mandatory waiting periods?
Case in point: Mississippi. The state doesn't require any license or permit for the purchase of a firearm. Think Progress also notes that Mississippi "doesn't require any kind of firearm safety training prerequisite to buying or carrying a gun, and does not require handguns to meet safety standards." Although there is no waiting period for those wanting to acquire a gun, for women seeking an abortion, it's a very different story. Patients have to wait a full 24 hours before they can have the procedure, during which they are offered literature and mandatory counselling. There's also only one clinic in the entire state so most women need to spend time (and money) in order to even get to it. The clinic has also been the target of incessant threats of closure from state administratives. Lawmakers have tried to shut that whole thing down (pun intended) repeatedly by tweaking abortion clinic regulations to make it illegal. To add insult to injury, the Supreme Court in Mississippi is currently considering prosecuting women who have stillbirths or miscarriages. Then we wonder why the state has the highest teen birth pregnancy rates in the country ...
If you go to Utah, you'll find a similar contradiction. Citizens can buy guns without any waiting period but women have to wait 72 hours before getting an abortion. Sucks to have a uterus in Utah! A gun? Not so much.
Contrary to (un)popular opinion, imposing mandatory waiting periods on patients to "think about what they've done" does not work as well on five-year-olds as it does on grown-women. Shocking! Studies show that waiting periods actually have no significant impact on a woman's decision. Maybe it's because choosing to get an abortion isn't like super-sizing your meal at Wendy's (why do I always end up doing it!?). A little convincing most likely won't change our minds. When it comes to women's wombs, we are the experts. Putting us in a patronizing "time-out" for 24-72 hours won't modulate our decisions.
Some may argue that buying a gun is also a personal decision that should be left to the individual citizens. That's fair. However, if we consider that research supports the importance of waiting periods because it correlates with a decrease in gun-related suicide rates, why not just implement them to prevent emotionally unstable people from acquiring firearms to commit impulsive acts of self-harm? The negative externalities for responsible gun owners would be negligible while the positive effects for vulnerable citizens will be significant and life-saving.
Senator Harry Reid, whose own father committed suicide, has voiced his support for more gun control before. Back in April, the senator went on the floor to back legislation that would implement these waiting periods for ponential gun-owners.
"In Nevada, if you purchase a handgun you have to wait three days to pick it up ... And it's believed that alone has saved the lives of many people. Sometimes people in a fit of passion will purchase a handgun to do bad things with it, Mr. President, even as my dad did, killed himself. Waiting a few days helps," Reid has pleaded.
So how about it America? Maybe it's time to rethink our policies and priorities. Making women wait for an abortion doesn't save lives. It just extends a process that is, frankly, hard enough. It also imposes financial consequences on patients for no good reason other than infantilizing them. Imposing mandatory waiting periods for gun owners has little or no financial impact and can save lives. So who should have legally enforceable waiting periods? It sounds like a no-brainer to me.
For more on reproductive justice and gun control, follow me on Twitter: @feministabulous