The Sky is Falling vs Is There A Problem?

When the congressional hearings on contraception were held in February, there was a lot of outrage posted on Facebook and Twitter. There were no women, no healthcare experts, and no supporters of Obama on the witness list for the hearings called by Rep. Darrell Issa, Chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. There were Catholic priests included. If you are reading this blog, you probably know all about this deplorable action by House Republicans.
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Contraception hearings aren’t the subject of my article today. What struck me in all of the furor was a comment by a 33-year old friend. In response to my post on Facebook about the contraception hearings. He said, “Since when is contraception even an issue?”
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Once again, it was brought home to me that there are wide gaps in the news we all watch and read. The news that directly effects you personally is what catches your attention. Next it is the news directly effecting your friends grabbing your attention.
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Since I watch multiple TV newscasts and read so many reproductive justice blogs, I was stunned by his comment. How could he not know about the war on women’s health issues for the past two years, especially legislation being written against abortion and against contraception? He has had the same female partner for over three years. This effects them as a couple. Didn’t she say something?
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There are also wide gaps in reaction to news, especially political and/or reproductive justice news. It seems to me to be divided along age lines, except for those people working directly in reproductive justice areas and those people who have been paying attention.
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I describe it this way:

Older (Me): OMG! The Sky is Falling! We are doomed! The conservatives are going to take away our right to access abortion, and then contraception, and then we are going to have forced pregnancies. Roe v Wade will be overturned by this Supreme Court. It is going to be only the very wealthy who will be able to afford abortion and contraception. They will be able to travel to other countries for these services. The rest of us will have to fight for years to regain this lost ground.

Younger (20-40 years): Is there a problem? That’s interesting. I think I heard something about it on the news. I should speak up or do something, but right now I am playing a game. Later I have to go to Yoga class and then I have cooking class. Tomorrow I am going on vacation. Maybe next week I will have time to sign this petition.

I attended a speech for the commemoration of the anniversary of Roe vs Wade. One speaker talked about the fire in the belly of activists for reproductive rights in the ‘60s and ‘70s. They were asking, ‘Where is the fire today? Who is speaking for these rights now?’ In talking about this comment with a friend in her early 20s who attended the event, I asked her to look around. She did and then said to me, “The activists retired.” More than 90% of the audience was approaching retirement age or older. I told her, “We got tired.”
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There are times when I get so tired of shrilly crying, “It’s not fair,” when some other legislation restricting access to healthcare for women is proposed.  After all, I am past my child-bearing years. It isn’t my fight any more. It doesn’t directly effect me. I can ride this fight out. Then I think of my child, his child, his friends, the friends’ children, my friends who are younger, their children, and the world I want to live in. I cannot help but cry, “It’s not fair,” at least one more time.
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Almost all of my friends who fall into the 20-40 year age group are activists, either for reproductive rights or focused on other human rights’ issues. They tell me they feel disappointed in the apathy they see in their friends. I really don’t think the problem is apathy. The Occupy movements have drawn thousands of people to demonstrate. People can be motivated to speak out.
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Truly, I think the problem of getting younger activists motivated in reproductive justice is two-fold.
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The first problem is access to abortion and contraceptives has been available all of the lives of anyone under 39. It is a right taken for granted. It is inconceivable to rational people that their government would take away needed healthcare. Even the threat to Planned Parenthood’s existence after 95 years is not viewed with alarm. They have always been there when you need them and they will somehow find funding. Complacency is the problem. There will need to be a dramatic wake-up call to combat the feeling of invulnerability. I dread that wake-up call.

The second problem I see is the complete mistrust of politicians and news organizations. Why listen to politicians when they always lie? Why listen to the news when they report events with a political slant? I have to agree, but that’s why you read and listen to variety to sort it all out. It seems this translates for many into getting their news from Twitter and Facebook. The problem with that is they are getting their information from friends who have interests and beliefs in common with them. If someone disagrees with you politically or brings up different viewpoints, you can just defriend them and listen to the news you want to hear about. Often that is not news about reproductive rights unless you are among my friends on Facebook.
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What we need is an Occupy for Reproductive Rights movement. We need to motivate people to stand up not just for women, but for everyone who wants a choice in deciding when or whether they want to start a family. We are talking about discrimination against 51% of the American population on issues of preventative healthcare.. Surely, this is worthwhile to let your voice be heard.
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We need to find the key to motivate younger people to be activists for their rights. We all need to pay attention to new legislation. This is so important because it is just the tip of the iceberg and it is a slippery slope to losing more rights we take for granted.

We have already lost so many rights while we were silent. Privacy? Think The Patriot Act. The Internet? Think PIPA and SOPA. Travel when and where you want? Think TSA. Right to trial? Think Security Law for Indefinite Detention without Trail for Terrorists. Military service? Think National Guard and the War in Iraq and possible War in Iran. Marriage? Think DOMA. Safety for everyone from abuse? Think Violence Against Women Act. Fair treatment for immigrants and their families? Think DREAM Act. Reproductive rights? Think ultrasound legislation.

Human rights is not an age-targeted issue. Reproductive rights is not a female-targeted issue. They effect everyone from the youngest to the eldest in our country. They are everyone’s issues.
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We need to all raise our voices. We need to be heard. We need to vote in the election.

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There is hope people are moving away from complacency and towards activism. A new group was established this month. Unite Against The War on Women is planning a march in Washington, DC and all 50 states on April 28th. They have added almost 16,000 members in two weeks and the numbers are growing. People are paying attention to the erosion of our rights. Check out their event and organization pages. (You must be a member of Facebook to view the event.)

Raise our voices!

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2 thoughts on “The Sky is Falling vs Is There A Problem?

    • That’s why diversity is good. Everyone is not going to agree on all points. This was written from my personal observations. If yours are different, I would love to have this discussion with you.

      Servalbear

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