Letter: As long as “religious” men dominate, the push to control women’s bodies will continue

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah representatives from left, Blake Moore, Chris Stewart, Senators Mike Lee and Mitt Romney and Rep. Burgess Owens take the stage before delegates attending the Utah Republican Party’s 2021 Organizing Convention at the Maverik Center in West Valley City on Saturday, May 1, 2021.

One summer many years ago I taught a class for mentally and physically handicapped teens. None could speak nor eat nor go to the toilet by themselves.

One girl had a condition causing her body to close in on itself. The assistants who worked with me placed weights on her arms and legs as she laid on the floor to try to alleviate the problem. I was told that surgery would help, but that it would be extremely painful. One child would continually bang his head. He had to wear a protective helmet. He had to be handcuffed to the chain link fence while awaiting for his bus to keep him from injuring himself.

At another school a mother told me that she could never leave her daughter alone for a minute as the daughter would find a way to self-harm because of her mental disability.

Also, during my long career, I’ve worked with children who were abused sexually and otherwise by their parents and later while in foster homes.

Yet, now members of the Supreme Court and Republicans in state houses are eager to force all of these children into the world. Poor women will be particularly targeted. Often, if employed, it will be in low-wage jobs.

If their own states have banned abortion services, they will be unable to take days off, and they will not be able to afford transportation and motel expense to go to a state where they can obtain a safe abortion.

In many cases, the man responsible for the unwanted pregnancy will have long split the scene.

Women are treated the worst in the Bible Belt states and in the Mormon states of Utah and Idaho. With skyrocketing rents and also skyrocketing food prices, what will Utah GOP legislators be proposing to provide for these women who are forced to give birth?

What will the state be doing to provide child care and schooling? Will funds be increased for juvenile incarceration facilities and for prisons as these unwanted babies mature into unwanted teens and then into unwanted adults.

It is all so easy for men to be holier than thou when it comes to women’s bodies. Men, who have never suffered through menstruation, morning sickness, carrying a baby for nine months and suffering from childbirth are in no position to lecture women, let alone to pass laws about their bodies.

Sadly this behavior will continue in Utah and in the south as long as “religious” men dominate. The Bible Belt religions became powerful in the slave owning states, as the slaveholders used the Old Testament to justify slavery. I don’t think it is too much a stretch to think that too many men also use the Bible and other religious texts to continually subjugate women today. Note how many women are in top positions at Temple Square.

The LDS relief society was closed down for 10 years by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to shut up the talk against polygamy.

Ted Ottinger, Taylorsville

Submit a letter to the editor