I’ve spent the past week or so trying to figure out what to write in honor of Roe vs. Wade‘s 39th anniversary today. As anyone who knows me is already aware, it’s incredibly important to me. And it wouldn’t take long for those who didn’t know that to figure it out. The “Fund Abortion Now” widget on the right-hand side of this page is a pretty obvious indicator of how I feel. And a significant percentage of my earlier writing addresses the importance of easy access to safe, legal abortion.
So I’m not about to pass up the opportunity to commemorate something so significant. But I’m still unsure of what to say. There are two reasons for this:
- I feel like we’re still trying to solve the same problems we were dealing with a year ago. For whatever reason, anti-choicers have been more active than ever in limiting women’s access to abortion (and birth control too, for that matter– get off your high horse, haters). Roe still stands, but is in a lot of danger. We’ve known that for a long time. What is there to say that hasn’t already been said?
- This issue has hit particularly close to home for me this year, and I have a lot to say about it (someone really important to me had an abortion just last week). But I can’t talk about it publicly, because she has asked me not to. This same person had surgery on her kidneys in 2001, and to this day likes to be a creep and show off her scar; it’s no big deal. But with this, it is. And that’s not because of how she feels (she couldn’t be more thrilled about the fact that she’s no longer pregnant actually– she left the clinic last Friday saying that she felt like Jesus). She’s keeping quiet about it because society makes it really hard on women who speak up.
2012 is an election year. And this issue is hands-down the deal breaker between me and any political candidate. Making something illegal won’t eliminate it. I simply won’t vote for anyone who fails to understand that.
But people will never be able to understand unless women are given the chance to share their stories. A huge part of the reason why they keep quiet about their experiences (see case above) has to do with the stigma attached to it. Nothing pisses me off more than putting abstraction above human experience.
So, don’t fall for the rhetoric. As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, I did not always consider myself to be pro-choice. And that’s because on the surface, the anti-choice verbiage sounds great. You know, “don’t kill babies.”
The thing is, those in the anti-choice camp know that, and use their rhetoric to trick vulnerable women into falling for their agenda. “Choose ‘life’” license plates may soon become available in my home state of Michigan. And trust me, they’re more than just your typical bumper sticker. Money raised from the purchase of these plates has been used to fund crisis pregnancy centers, which pose as abortion clinics, but do not provide abortion or contraceptives (nor do they refer women to organizations that do). What really upsets me is that CPCs are notorious for providing false medical information about birth control and abortion in order to scare women out of considering it as an option that may very well be what’s best for them.
Reproductive justice activist Katie Stack wrote a great op-ed–which was published in the New York Times this past October–about her experience at a crisis pregnancy center. I’m so glad that she spoke up, and I hope that her piece has reached women who needed to be warned against falling into the same trap. But my real hope is that eventually, no one will need to be warned, because CPCs will have been eliminated. No one deserves to be lied to or made to feel scared when they ask for help.
This issue is so heavily politicized that I think we often forget that it’s an actual health issue, which affects real people. And Roe is what keeps women’s experiences from falling into the hands of politicians. (Have you seen who’s running for president on the Republican ticket?)
I’m going to close with something that Katie posted to Twitter several months ago. Not only does it sum up my overall philosophy, but I think it’s also the key to keeping abortion safe, legal, and accessible to women who need it:
“I won’t debate, but I will discuss.”