January 22, 2014
Happy Birthday, Roe v. Wade! (My present is a wake up call)
It has been 41 years since the landmark Supreme Court decision to make abortion legal in all 50 states. So while this is a great day, right now I’m thinking about some issues with Roe and the way we approach the issue of abortion.
One of the best workshops I attended at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit was called “Complicating and Extending the Reproductive Justice Framework.” One of the speakers was Tracy A. Weitz, and she brought up different critiques with Roe and the RJ movement itself.
For instance, while we treat Roe v. Wade as the be all and end to abortion rights, it is inherently flawed! The most important and often the largest obstacle to abortion is MONEY, and barring federal money from abortions was written right into Roe. In conjunction with nonsense like the Hyde Amendment, the most vulnerable population of folks who seek abortions are met with unfair obstacles. I can think of two reasons why actions to prevent federal funds for abortion exist; the perception that it will reduce the amount of abortions that take place, and the idea that anti-choice folks shouldn’t have to worry about their tax dollars funding something they find morally repugnant.
Welp, preventing safe, legal abortions only encourages unsafe ones, and endangerment of the life of the pregnant woman, and as far as tax money goes, unless I get my money back from the wars we’re funding and the government starts taxing the ish out of religious organizations, I give no fucks about anti-choicers helping to fund a medical procedure they disagree with. Psh.
Next, no more talking about how we need to defend the right of abortion, ESPECIALLY in the case of women who are victims of rape or incest. Should women who were raped have the right to an abortion? Absofuckinglutely. But this caveat unintentionally creates this unfair distinction between “good girls” and “bad girls.” This somewhat echos back to Roe. The judges deemed that the 1st, 4th, 9th, and 14th amendment give women a “zone of privacy” before the viability of a fetus, meaning it is a woman’s private business whether or not she wants to continue her pregnancy. The whole rape/incest thing implies that if a woman’s pregnancy happened after consensual sex, then somehow it is our business to say she doesn’t deserve the same privacy and right to an abortion. *We’ll get back to this virgin-whore thing soon.
Moving on. We need to expose inequalities without re-victimizing folks. We’ve seen the anti-choice folks do some crazy stuff. Remember these terrible billboards? It really doesn’t get more racist than that. And while women in poverty, and women of color are especially vulnerable to so many of these awful abortion restrictions, we need to check the privilege we personally have when approaching these issues. When trying to serve a specific population, we need to actually talk to people within that group, not just assume you know what they want, where they’re coming from, etc.
This next bit is on a much smaller scale. A beautiful part about being pro-choice, is that it doesn’t mean you have to be “pro-abortion,” just against the government regulating such a deeply personal decision. I genuinely in my heart of hearts believe that a woman may not truly *know* what choice she might make if she were pregnant. I can say this because at this point in my life I’ve had various friends make decisions either way that they weren’t expecting to make. One thing I’d love for my pro-choice, anti-abortion sisters to do is never, ever say things like “I’m pro-choice and I believe in a woman’s right to choose, but I would NEVER get an abortion myself.” That’s judgmental, rude, and hurtful. Seriously, it is. I know this because I used to say that, until a friend who had an abortion called me out and explained how hurtful it was. A woman’s morals about her body are individual to her and they should be respected. One in three women has an abortion in her lifetime; when comments like these are made you don’t know who you might be hurting.
Alright, those are my critiques. Post workshop I approached Weitz and talked to her about different ideas about what she thoguht might be effective in changing people’s minds who are on the other side. She gave me a harsh dose of reality. Posting interviews with my friends who have had abortions? No. Pointing out that abortion is actually SAFER than giving birth during the first trimester? No. Educating people about how a lot of the media that comes from anti-choice groups is fake? Nope. When I asked why not, she explained that for so many of the people in this movement (many of them men, who will never be pregnant obviously) eradicating abortion is really about keeping women in what they see as their only acceptable role; mothers. To them, women are built to carry children, that is what we’re supposed to do. Getting an abortion, for whatever reason, is an affront to their ideology and a complete rejection of what a woman is supposed to be. Because of this, none of facts really matter to them.
This nicely leads of to what my next post will be about 🙂 Talking to the folks we can actually persuade, or, moving the middle.