I support a woman’s right to an abortion.

Image

This post is a part of NARAL Pro-Choice America’s Blog for Choice Day 2013

I’ve been thinking this morning, on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, about the phrase “pro-choice.” There are conflicting views within the feminist community on the value of the “pro-choice” label and that’s a good thing. We need to have those discussions about what it means to support abortion rights for all women and not only for those who can access it the most, because then the choice to have an abortion is easy for some and extremely difficult for many.

Does the label fit me anymore, knowing that my views and understanding of abortion have shifted and expanded from a purely reproductive rights standpoint to one that embraces reproductive justice? Not exactly. But I still believe it’s a simple, useful phrase in theory because it implies that women decide if or when to become a mother. That women are in control of their bodies and fates. Forty years after Roe, this idea is still powerful and radical when so much of our culture and conservative politics dictate the opposite.

As a teenager, I came into reproductive rights activism through pro-choice organizations like NARAL, Planned Parenthood and Feminist Majority. In the spirit of sharing our stories in this blog carnival, and in honor of my pro-choice beginnings in reproductive rights, here is why I will always support abortion rights:

 

  • Without the right to a legal abortion, I lack personhood, autonomy and citizenship. The right to privacy as enshrined in the Constitution (the legal bedrock of abortion rights) means that I have the ability to decide my reproductive future and control my own body.

 

  •  Listening to the women and girls who call the DC Abortion Fund hotline. Their personal stories turn from fear to anxiety, relief and gratitude as they tell me about their struggle to find a clinic near their home, schedule a convenient time for the procedure, find transportation to the clinic and childcare while they’re gone, and pay for an abortion. In other words, the hurdles they need to overcome to exercise their right to a safe and legal abortion. I support abortion rights because I know that I could be one of them.

 

  • My exposure as a teenager to conservative, right-to-life Catholicism that is anti-woman. There is no justification for male clergy of any religion (or religion) to dictate women’s reproductive choices. Religious extremism is inextricably bound to misogyny.

 

  •  I trust women. There is no better reason to support abortion access and rights than this.

 

Advertisements

Summer Celebration of Choice coming to Maryland

I can’t keep up with the overwhelming effort and pace of right-wing, anti-choice attacks on women’s access to abortion and reproductive health care this year. The scope of it is simply too much to absorb – the failed “Heartbeat” law in Ohio, parental notification laws, national and state efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and Nebraska copycat laws (which ban abortion after 20 weeks and were enacted in five states in 2011). And let’s not forget about Kansas’ unnecessary stringent regulations that would have shut down the state’s three abortion providers if a judge hadn’t issued a temporary restraining order keeping the regulations from going into effect last week.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, 56% of bills introduced in state legislatures in the first three months of 2011 seek to restrict abortion access, compared to 38% in the previous year. Insurance coverage of abortion, restriction of abortion after a certain point of gestation and ultrasound requirements are at the top of many states’ agendas.

On the national level, our Representatives and Senators compromised and restricted abortion access for women in the District of Columbia and trampled on the city’s autonomy in order to pass a continuing resolution to fund the government for the rest of 2011 and avoid a debilitating shut-down. D.C. is now restricted from using its own locally raised funds to help more than 60,000 non-elderly Medicaid-enrolled women receive abortion services when necessary to preserve their health.

In response to these new anti-choice mandates, people from across the country donated tens of thousands of dollars to D.C. Abortion Fund (DCAF), an all-volunteer non-profit that makes grants and gives no-interest loans to D.C.-area women and girls who can’t afford the full cost of an abortion. So, I joined DCAF volunteers on June 28 to sign and fold thank-you letters that we stuffed into stamped envelopes addressed to donors from California, Ohio, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York.

There’s a familiar feeling of excitement and exhilaration when I’m engaged in feminist activism whether it’s folding thank-you letters, handing out flyers at a rally or marching in the street. It’s a feeling that I’m doing something productive with others who are as passionate as I am about the issues and that can be electrifying. It’s a feeling that I first experienced as a 19 year-old college student sitting in a circle of feminists and discussing issues of sexual assault and safety on our SUNY New Paltz campus. Small, simple acts go a long way to helping you feel connected to the feminist movement and empowered and energized to change the status quo.

I digress slightly, but here’s my point – the Summer Celebration of Choice is another opportunity for local feminists and reproductive rights activists to become actively involved in supporting choice in a peaceful manner. This new, week-long event will be held from July 31 to Aug. 6 in Germantown, Maryland, where Dr. LeRoy Carhart works part-time at Reproductive Health Services. (Operation Rescue has made Carhart the target of its “Summer of Mercy 2.0,” a repeat of its 1991 “Summer of Mercy” that shut down Dr. George Tiller’s clinic in Witchita, Kansas, for six weeks and resulted in 3,400 arrests. Operation Rescue will hold Summer of Mercy 2.0 from July 30 to Aug. 7 in Germantown, Md.)

The Summer Celebration of Choice will start with a kick-off walk/fundraiser for Abortion Access Fund on July 31. According to its Web site, organizers intend for Summer Celebration of Choice to be a show of support for Carhart and his staff and a peaceful pro-choice presence.

Count me in!

What It Really Takes…

enough said.