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Decades ago, feminist leader Gloria Steinem quipped that, “if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” As President Trump reinstates restrictions on women’s reproductive rights that the Obama Administration lifted (such as the “global gag rule”), the visual imagery of Trump signing executive orders while surrounded by an audience of white men raises – once again – the question of how gender shapes the abortion issue. In the recent unsuccessful Republican effort to repeal “Obamacare,” when Kansas Senator Pat Roberts was asked whether he supported removing the mandate that insurance companies cover “essential health benefits” such as maternity care, he joked, “I certainly don’t want my mammogram benefits taken away.” Senator Roberts subsequently tweeted an apology, after swift criticism by some Democratic Congresswomen, one of whom quipped that she wouldn’t want to lose her screenings for prostate cancer and another mentioned not only the number of women who die from breast cancer each year. That he could make such a “joke” seemed to suggest that women’s distinctive health needs related to their reproductive capacity were something men simply did not “get.” The male body is still the normal and normative one (as in anatomy classes and medical texts of old), with the female body having those messy, mysterious, and problematic “extras.”

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