April 23, 2012


A few years ago, many of us thought the abortion issue was resolved.  A red herring in the electoral process, designed to distract us from larger issues.  Who votes based on abortion rights anymore?

Well, while we were lounging by the door, the religious right was sneaking in the window.  A lot of scary-ass laws have been passed lately on the state level, including (but not limited to) forced ultrasounds and required counseling.  And let’s not even get into the Arizona thing.

Abortion’s not the only thing being discussed.  For reasons quite unclear to me, there was that whole brouhaha over religious employers not having to pay for contraception.

I can sort of get it, although I disagree rather strongly.  There are people who, for whatever reason, can’t wrap their heads around abortion and contraception.

But they aren’t the majority, nor should they have the right to make decisions for other people.  It’s that simple.  And don’t start on, “You’re making decisions for the fetus,” because pregnant women make decisions for fetuses all the time.  Unless you’re planning on arresting women who drink coffee, consume alcohol, smoke, and eat sushi while pregnant, you can’t really make that argument.

Unfortunately, I get the feeling some people would like broader powers to control what women do, so maybe the sushi law is next.

The War on Women, however, is not just about abortion and contraception.  It’s also about the definition of rape, which seems to be under fire lately.  And then there’s equal pay, which we’ve never accomplished, and thank you so much Scott Walker.  Then there’s the Violence Against Women Act, which must be a threat to someone or another, because there’s a fight against reauthorizing it.

On the one hand, it’s confusing.  How can these kinds of things pass?  Why would women, who are 50% of the population, give or take, accept this kind of backslide?  Even women who are virulently anti-choice on abortion should be anti-violence against women.  If you add in the one or two men who might also think hurting women is a bad idea, that one should be a no-brainer, right?

On the other hand, though, it makes perfect sense.  Because it’s not really about all women, is it?  It’s about undocumented women getting protection from abuse.  You know, women who are poor, don’t speak a lot of English, and might not be white.

Equal pay?  That’s just for the loser women who didn’t have the sense to find a good breadwinner to support them.

And the whole contraception thing?  Well, no one was trying to BAN contraception, of course.  They just didn’t want to make anyone pay for it.  Women can have contraception, as long as they foot the bill themselves.  Don’t have enough money to pay for your pills?  That’s cool.  Just don’t have sex.  Unless of course you’re married to a good breadwinner because you can’t have an abortion without having an ultrasound wand stuck up your vagina and if you try to raise a child on your own, you’re at best a slut and at worst a child abuser.

In other words, only have sex if you’re a) rich enough to buy birth control, b) married, or c) a man.

I really could go on, but that’s not the point of this post.  The point of this post is that we’re being too quiet.  Sure, we’re letting the politicians talk about the War on Women, but we’re not doing jack shit to make our voices heard.

There’s a nationwide rally this weekend.  I’m going to the one in Boston and I’m bringing two of my kids.  They don’t understand so much why they’re going, but I think it’s important for them to see that we fight for what’s right.

I also think it’s important to show that, even though I had my kids by choice, I’m not apathetic.  I’m not the target of this onslaught.  I’m white, upper middle class, and married.  Which means that from my place of privilege, I’d best make a little noise on behalf of the women who really are the target of the War on Women.

Please share information about the rally in your area, and please consider attending.  It’s time to make some noise.

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  • Reply fiwa April 23, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    Thanks for the links Emily. I’ll check them out later this afternoon.

  • Reply Ken Wallo April 23, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    Emily – I am pro-choice and agree with you on many of the outrages that have recently occurred. However, and I’m sure I’m going to get slammed for this by others (not you as you are always elevated and respectful) but I take issue with this statement:

    “But they aren’t the majority, nor should they have the right to make decisions for other people. It’s that simple. And don’t start on, “You’re making decisions for the fetus,” because pregnant women make decisions for fetuses all the time. Unless you’re planning on arresting women who drink coffee, consume alcohol, smoke, and eat sushi while pregnant, you can’t really make that argument.’

    This is utter relativism. For we don’t arrest mothers for most bad decisions once their children are born. Crappy diet, poor supervision, second hand smoke etc, although irresponsible aren’t within the realm of child abuse. But yet physical abuse is. Now hear me out:

    I don’t know what the term limit line should be drawn, but there has to be one. Given some fetuses are viable at 25 weeks should it be there? Or should their be none and an 8 months abortion is OK too? As I said I am definitely pro-choice, but I think to say their should be no limits is intellectually dishonest – because if you start taking polls almost everyone would put a limit somewhere. Once one has agreed on that or at least most everyone has agreed on that, the question is where to draw the line. I can’t answer that but personally (and yes personally I don’t have a vagina) abortion on demand past 30 weeks makes me queasy. This is 100% not even an opinion but a gut feeling – me speaking my mind. I want to add that the life of the mother should always take priority if genuinely life threatening, but you know sometimes doctors really fudge the definition of this. Not being emotionally equipped to have a child should not, in my mind be enough past a certain date.

    So I am putting this out there as a “sample opinion” of a thoughtful person to get feedback. I’ve never had forum to ask before – so I’m going for it. Anyone?

    • Reply emily April 23, 2012 at 6:18 pm

      Ken, I was responding to the argument I hear all the time, which is about making decisions for a fetus, as though it is a person. Which it is not.
      As to putting limits, here’s the issue. There was a limit in Arizona. I believe it was 22 weeks. Now it’s been pushed back to 20. Neither makes any sense in terms of viability, but even so, the fact that there was a limit set a precedent. When you set a limit at 30 weeks, who’s to stop someone from saying, “No, it should be 4 weeks”? That precedent is exactly how the inroads on the right to choice have been made.
      The fact is, most people ARE squeamish about late abortions, so very few happen unless there’s a damned good reason. Are you really comfortable with someone else deciding what’s a damned good reason for a woman to choose what to do with her body? I’m not. I trust women to make this decision.
      It’s not about what’s a good reason in your mind, as it’s not your uterus.
      Does this all make sense? Feel free to ask away. My readers have always been pretty respectful of each other on abortion.

      • Reply Ken April 23, 2012 at 9:03 pm

        Thanks Emily – that is a super good point. But I do disagree about the person-hood issue. Actually, that is the heart of the matter – when does a fetus become an unborn child? But then, this fetus/unborn child (past a point which is SO hard to define) is part of a woman’s body! I swear a wrestle with this a lot, because I do trust women.

        Now to completely complicate the issue – if one says the decisions a woman makes with her body are sacrosanct – then if one has to support the legalization of prostitution. And decisions about our bodies for both men and women aren’t absolute – we can’t grow our own pot for personal consumption, nor could we walk into a plastic sugeon’s office and have our left arm cut off because we felt like it. Regardless, you and all women, have my support in 90% of the issues you find contentious – it’s just I think the slippery slope goes both ways, and some of the arguments I hear, although I support generally, have some issues with their syllogisms.

        Much love – Ken

        • Reply emily April 24, 2012 at 2:26 am

          Prostitution is not the issue; the issue is the way that women in that industry are preyed upon. Legalized prostitution would allow regulation, which would provide women protection. I’m all for it. I think you know where I stand on legalization of marijuana.
          As to having an arm cut off by a doctor, I believe the issue isn’t your right to do what you wish to your body but rather your doctor’s oath to do no harm.
          I think the thing we need to remember here is that late-term abortions are not very common. When they are done, it is usually for fairly extreme reasons, often having to do with medical information about the fetus. And we have to trust women to be able to decide which reasons are extreme enough.

  • Reply Ken Wallo April 23, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    Let me add that the worse hypocrisy in this undermining of women’s rights is that on one hand people want to prevent abortion yet the same people also want to restrict access to contraception! This is such utter bullshit – and on the contraception end I am incredibly in favor of supporting Planned Parenthood.

  • Reply magpie April 23, 2012 at 4:58 pm

    Hell to the yeah.

  • Reply Catherine April 24, 2012 at 2:28 am

    Ken, I appreciated your points. Those were the things that sprung to my mind too.

  • Reply Ken April 25, 2012 at 3:06 am

    Thanks for listening Emily. You make super good points. I also appreciate that, even if I don’t 100% agree with you, that keeping choice as policy requires people such as yourself to boldly stand up to the ones trying to take it away entirely. As always, you leave me impressed with your passion.

  • Reply alejna April 27, 2012 at 2:11 am

    Oh, I wish it weren’t *this* Saturday. We are already committed up the wazoo with things that we can’t reschedule. Of course, this schedule conflict makes me feel conflicted, since I really care about keeping these laws out of one’s…wazoo. Much as I would love to join one of the rallies in person, I think I will have to only be there in spirit. Please make extra noise for me.

  • Reply Painted Maypole April 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm

    Thank you.

    Unfortunately, I was well aware that women’s reproductive rights were a big factor in the last presidential election, when someone found out I was voting for Obama her horrified response was “what about abortion?” To which I replied “What about war? What about the poor? What about our environment?” The religious right focuses so much on the abortion issue, and turns voting for anyone who is pro-choice to be an anti-faith movement, and people are just sucked right into that bull. We need to make noise. We also need to remind those who don’t care for abortion that there are a lot of other issues that their faith has a lot to say about… and most Republicans are saying the opposite.

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