Women's Studies,  Writings

Gendered Law: 2 Essays

There’s a prejudice against disabled people in society, but when looking at the reproductive rights of women, is there discrimination in how our government treats women with disabilities? The author Mia Mingus would say absolutely.

According to the author, it all starts with the stigma of women with disabilities as unfit to be mothers. They’re often discouraged from having children. This sets a standard for women with disabilities to live alone, never marry, not have children. This is a serious contributing factor to the way women with disabilities are treated when it comes to reproductive rights. This includes a lack of access to health education, pelvic exams, birth control, or just fail to acknowledge the woman’s sexual history at all. If these aren’t services that’re given to women with disabilities, there’s little opportunity for the women to seek it on their own. These women have limited access to transpiration and are generally dependent on a caregiver. This all has an impact on how women with disabilities are seen in our society.

Mingus says, “the framework of reproductive justice provides an analysis grounded in human rights and collective justice.” The reason we view women with disabilities through the lends of justice is because it can provide a wider scope on the issues facing these women in society. The author outright says she thinks many of these women can’t expect the right to privacy so there’s just no point in discussing it. Arguing, “disabled women’s and girls’s bodies have long been invaded and seen as the property of the medical industry, doctors, the state, family members, and caregivers.” Women with disabilities are not treated equally by the law because they’re not seen in society as real women.


Parental consent laws in the United States are seen by many, including pro-choice supporters, as a compromise for legal, safe abortions. The law of consent states places women under the age of 18 that are seeking an abortion at the will of an outside party like a parent or judge. The major case of Roe v. Wade from 1973 supports women having access to an abortion. So in a way, parental consent laws are kind of contradictory with Roe v. Wade, causing a scary grey area for young women.

While the law doesn’t require parental involvement, it allows it. It’s justified as a safe way to help young women ‘make the right decision’ about their future. However, it’s really just stripping a pregnant woman of her choice and right to an abortion. It’s supported by both pro-life and pro-choice politicians because it’s seen as a nice middle ground, a footnote on reproductive rights to ease the fear of young women becoming unfit mothers. It’s a safety net but in reality it’s so much more than that. Like many policies, parental consent laws aren’t always created to do what the public may think. These laws do target a specific group of women.

According to the article, two million girls don’t live with parents. That means that if they were to become pregnant, a judge could be deciding what to do with that woman and her child. Many young women are living in poverty and they are the ones most likely to get pregnant. Not to mention these pregnancies can be the result of sexual abuse, which is also more likely to happen to young women living in poverty.

Lastly the article discusses how an overwhelming majority of teen woman pregnancies involve men over 18. Therefore, parental consent laws are a way of blaming and placing the problems on the young women and have no consequence for the men involved. These men are not policed, but these laws do target young, and often poor women and deny them the choice that is a right in this country. The author says it best: “The young, like the poor, are targeted for oppressive restrictions because they can’t fight back.”