Today is the 6th annual Blog for Choice Day, which honors the anniversary of the Roe v Wade decision. And even as we take time to appreciate that landmark decision and its legacy for women in America, it’s bittersweet. After all, it’s been 38 years and we’re still talking about attacks on our personal autonomy (because I don’t care how you dress it up, if you tell me that I cannot control my reproductive organs then I do not have personal autonomy), our personal choice (to have or not have babies, to preserve a mother’s life when it’s in danger…), our access (because “choice” shouldn’t be code for “rich, white woman”), our rights. Because the law of land gives me the right to choose. But here we are, again; a hostile Congress coming out with guns blazing to not just chip away at choice but blast a hole right through it if they can.
And this year’s theme speaks directly to the fear so many of us in the pro-choice community have: Given the anti-choice gains in the states and Congress, are you concerned about choice in 2011?
What am I not concerned about?
- I’m afraid that Rep. Mike Pence will succeed in cutting all federal funding to Planned Parenthood, an organization that not only provides crucial reproductive services in many under-served communities but also provides general health-care services to poor and under-insured women and men.
- I’m afraid of “Stupak on Steriods”, which passed the House yesterday, will remove reproductive health care services for women in the new federal health care reform law. And House leaders are just getting started. They are bringing forward the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act and the Protect Life Act. (Because why focus on the bad economy or the effects of the foreclosure crisis when you can appeal to your base and attack abortion rights?)
- I’m really afraid of Justice Antonin Scalia, an openly anti-choice justice who has recently been talking about how to chip away at Roe (Warning! The link goes to an anti-choice website, which are the only places I can find his interview comments.).
- Most of all, I’m afraid that too many Americans will not fight to keep choice available because they don’t know it’s under serious threat, or worse, because they are not paying attention.
There’s no doubt about it, we’re going to have to be vocal and vigilant in 2011!
You know, for all their talk about rights, particularly the Bill of Rights, I always find it interesting how quickly the Religious Right is willing to cut off such a personal right of 50% of the population! Approximately half of all Americans have a uterus! It’s the greatest percentage of Americans who can be affected by a single vote or a single judgement. What does it say about America — the Land of the Free — that we still violently wrestle with allowing women to keep their God-given autonomy!
I have always hated that the feminist movement so often gets distilled down to arguments about choice. But the fact is, what can be more vital than a person being able to have full control, full decision-making power over their own body? Honestly, what other bodily function or organs are more legislated than a uterus, a vagina and ovaries? You never see the No Taxpayer Funding for Amputees bill. Or even the No Taxpayer Funds for Heart Disease bill. But if you are a woman, your body will be the subject of legislation, debate, scrutiny, political attack, lawsuits and more for your ENTIRE LIFE! The very essence of that is proof that women are not considered equal to men.
Indeed, the very essence of equality — which is the heart of feminism — is erasing such a dramatic difference between the sexes! If I can’t talk to my doctor about medical procedures, then I am not equal to a man. If I am not able to avail myself of needed medical treatment because a law prohibits me, then I am not equal to a man. Period. THERE IS NO HALF-WAY HERE! I am either equal to a man or I am not. These kinds of laws are not only dangerous and putting women’s lives at real risk, but they are also the most public example — the most public monument, codified by laws that govern our lands — of how an American woman is not equal to an American man.
You may disagree with the substance of abortion, but you cannot disagree that creating laws that prohibit choice is, in fact, an act of hate against women. The very idea that you need a law to govern a woman’s uterus (which is what anti-abortion laws are) is proof that you do not think women are capable of deciding for themselves how and when she might use her uterus. And if you think you have to decide how a woman uses her body, then you are saying women should not have autonomy over their bodies. And that means you think women are inferior to men. And that, in turn, means that you think women are not equal to men.
Perhaps the greatest irony regarding Roe is that the decision came down to personal privacy under 14th Amendment. Because what could be more private than what you decide to do with your uterus? What could be more personal and private than that? And yet, 38 years later, we are still here. Shouting! Arguing! And very publicly debating the very thing that should be private.
If you want to know what concerns me about the anti-choice rhetoric and agitating… it’s that my daughter may find herself having to make these same arguments and fighting these same fights 38 years from now. When is it going to end? How much time are we going to waste? How many women have to suffer? Stop this insanity! Stop taking away our rights! Stop using the law to spew your hatred of women! Enough’s enough!