Blogging for Reproductive Rights ~ Call to Action

Abortion carries a lot of stigma.

I think we like to think it couldn’t happen to us ~ we couldn’t be in a situation where we needed one.  That makes it easier to be judgmental about it.

In general, we can ignore the wide range of circumstances that create a need for an abortion, we can ignore the data which says one in three women will have an abortion, we can rest easy in the belief it won’t happen to us.

Of course, my impression of people’s opinions on abortion are warped by my weekly experiences with radical anti-choice people who want to talk about fallopian pregnancies still being a life.  When I talk to women in the mainstream of life, one on one, I often discover they are in favor of choice.

They’re not talking about it, not proclaiming it from the rooftops like I am these days, but they favor choice.  They like to say, “I wouldn’t have one myself, but I support other women’s right to choose.”  That makes sense.

And I understand there are layers of reasons for their reluctance to take a public stand.

But that’s why legislators are able to chip away at abortion rights.  The support for choice is not loud enough to shore up the politicians who are on the fence ~ we don’t help them choose to vote against laws that limit access.

I understand people’s reluctance to step out in support of access.   It worries me to watch us losing ground, but I get it.

BUT ~ birth control?

I didn’t even think birth control was actually controversial.

Yes, I know the Catholic hierarchy is against it, and always has been.  And I know, having been Catholic up until recently, that many, many, Catholic couples use birth control, and feel ok about it.

I know some Protestants ~ some Southern Baptists ~ have decided that being open to having children is a mandate from God, although they’re not insisting that you be receptive to pregnancy every time you have sex.  Yet.

But if you look around, there are not that many ten and twelve kid Catholic families anymore ~ or huge Protestant families for that matter~ like there were back before birth control was legal and accepted.  I’m pretty sure that’s not because we’re just that successful at Natural Family Planning.

So really, I thought for most of us, birth control was fully accepted.

But suddenly, anti-birth control Republicans are all over the place.

I’m not going to rehash the story here  – surely you’ve heard ~ Obama tried to mandate birth control coverage by all employers.  That outraged the Catholic hierarchy, and some Protestant leaders jumped on the outrage express.  You would have thought Obama was advocating for mandatory Satanic sexual rituals.

I thought there would be push-back.  I thought all of us women and our partners who have benefitted from birth control, who only have one or two kids, or just three or four kids instead of ten, would step out in support of his stance.

It didn’t happen.  Apparently, we’re not so worried about access to contraceptives for women who work for Catholic organizations, even if they’re not Catholic.

Maybe we thought it was safe to sit back and watch and wait.  See what happened.  Maybe we thought Obama had it covered, we didn’t have to do anything.

But with all the anti-choice leaders up in arms, Obama compromised.

The compromise wasn’t good enough for the anti-choice crowd, of course.  They’re still having fits.

And it made the liberals mad – how dare he compromise?  Suddenly there was all kinds of righteous indignation flying around from the left too ~ not so much against the anti-crowd, but against Obama for compromising.

And that kind of annoys me.  What do we expect?

Here’s the thing.  If we don’t speak out in support of leaders when they’re doing what we want, if we don’t encourage them loudly when they’re on the right track, they can’t hold that stance in the face of strong resistance.  It is up to us to speak up.

We are losing access to abortion.  If we aren’t careful, we will lose access to birth control too.

So when my friend, GF, who’s blogged on these pages a couple of times, invited me and Servalbear  to join this movement ~ Bloggers United for Human Rights, I was delighted.  Today ~ February 15 ~ we’re blogging for Reproductive Rights, and asking other bloggers to do the same.

Of course, Servalbear and I blog about choice all the time.  But today, I want to ask you to speak out.

Rise up in favor of all reproductive choices ~ having children, in vitro fertilization, birth control, choosing to be childless, and abortion.

If you don’t, our options will disappear.  Not just access to abortion, but access to birth control.  With personhood bills in the wings, we are headed toward creating a reality of the satiric Monty Python song “Every Sperm is Sacred.”

Is that really what we want???

What will you do to help elect pro-choice candidates in 2012?~ by KpF

Contemplating and discussing how to best support our local pro-access candidates, we quickly, with almost unheard of consensus, concluded we’d not do anything.
We can’t. There are no pro-access candidates in Louisville, Ky.
Now, we have many conscientious, progressive access-friendly state representatives and local council members. These folks worked for decades, boosted by stalwart supporters, to secure the basic protections to access. Their work continues against the constant barrage to women’s rights of self-determination. From the legislative onslaughts and innocuous religious propaganda, to the hospital merger eliminating indigent and low income care, to the worn down apathy of an electorate trying to survive the economy,  these folks shore up these erosions to keep abortion safe and legal.
For Kentucky, Louisville looks progressive. Trendy farm-to-table restaurants, blown-glass art galleries, local yet fresh museums, revitalized downtown and locally roasted coffee houses. But at any moment even the skinny-jeaned barista in his ironic beard could ask us, “Please do not use the A-word or maybe go sit outside. You might offend other patrons.”
To wave a banner proclaiming any candidate, council member or legislative rep pro-access would be the kiss of death. Not being adamantly anti-abortion will not get you elected in the rest of the state. We fly below the radar because we have to keep flying.
Individually, we teach our kids tolerance and understanding. We wear our “Trust Women” and “Abortion is Not a Dirty Word” shirts and field the inevitable questions calmly, with focused intent to educate. We instigate the awkward conversations at Thanksgiving when Uncle Ignorant oppresses Aunt Submissive. We endure the uncomfortable silences at the Super Bowl party as we blanch in disgust at Tebow commercials, or this year’s bloody fetus ads. We collaborate to create real client-centric support.* We escort.
When proclaiming a candidate pro-access and supporting that stance won’t do more harm than good, we’ll pin on the frisbee-sized button, canvas door-to-door registering voters and planting yard signs. But we do not live there. Not yet.
Abortion Support in Kentucky is celebrating Roe vs Wade with their donation drive towards efforts to make abortion and reproductive healthcare more accessible in Kentucky. Please visit their website and contribute whatever you can.

Trust Women. Thank goodness for Roe v. Wade

What does it mean to Trust Women?

Trust Women.

Do I really have to answer such a simple question?

Justify such a powerful statement?

Is the idea that personal integrity and freedom extends to women such a stretch?

Why does the content of my uterus change my right to legal medical care?

My right to decide if I want to be a parent.

Why must I shoulder the burden of my pharmacist’s conscience

What is it about women refusing to acquiesce our reproductive and sexual autonomy that evokes the kind of anger that manifests bombings and murder.

Every year the anniversary of Roe v. Wade gives me pause. I am ready to celebrate, yell from the rooftops my joy at being a woman, a queer person and the Supreme Court’s decision to respect my privacy and bodily autonomy. In that same moment however, I mourn the tragedy that is the anti-choice movement’s march across the political landscape, throwing up roadblocks large and small. The cumulative result being a tiered system of the haves and the have nots, baring access to reproductive health care with parental consent laws, 24 hour waits, compulsory ultrasound viewing, personhood amendment, prohibitions on sex education, emergency contraception and constant stigmatization and harassment.

I started escorting at EMW Women’s Surgical Center in 1999 and am there every Saturday morning. I have walked with countless families past protesters yelling, begging, lying, crying, pushing, obstructing, harassing and bullying.

I have used my body to create space between the most confident 15 year old in the world and grown men who think they know her story without ever asking.

I have run with terrified women past protesters trying to grab her arm into the clinic doors.

I have stopped anti-choice protesters from slipping religious materials into client’s purses.

I have watched protesters call out their neighbors by name as they enter the clinic and then call the client’s mothers, pastors and sisters to bully them into leaving.

I have held a crying woman in my arms as she told me about her diagnosis with MS after her health began to rapidly deteriorate with her fourth pregnancy, and the agony in her voice as she wondered about sacrificing her body for the one or preserving her health for the other 3.

I have heard hundreds of stories of families in need, poverty beyond my wildest nightmares and heartache that I do not have the language skill to adequately express. And everyone of these people have been forced to walk through a gauntlet of anti-choice protesters who believe they know better than each of these women how to handle the struggles in their lives.

So what does it look like to Trust Women?

Trust is earned by every working mother.

Trust is knowing that women are life bearers. There is great power and knowledge in being the one to bring forth humanity. Trust is believing that women know better than anyone else when and if they have the resources to bring a child into this world.

Trust is agreeing to disagree; every woman experiences pregnancy on a continuum, Trust is supporting women no matter what.

Trust is acknowledging and dismantling privilege.

Trust is recognizing that poverty, racial and gender oppression burden us all.

There is no healthy world without healthy women.

Dr. Tiller understood.

Women are to be trusted.