Tuesday, January 22, 2013

What I'm Reading and a Note on Roe v. Wade

It is certainly a historic week, isn't it! So much happening, so much great writing to dig into. Brittney Cooper has an amazing piece up at The Crunk Feminist Collective entitled We Have Dreams: Thoughts on Intentional Dreaming on this MLK-Inauguration Day. She writes,
But today, I dream for a world with less war, less guns, less violence. I dream for a world where parents don’t lose children and where children don’t lose parents too soon. I dream for a world where our national and collective contempt for inequality supersedes our national contempt for the unequal. I dream for a world where justice is not a pledge but a practice. I dream for a world that “loves mercy” even as it seeks to “do justice.” Even as President Obama lays his hand on MLK’s Bible today, I dream for a world where the Bible, esteemed alongside every other holy book, is a personally chosen guide for living not a culturally imposed guide for governance. I dream for a world in which every person has loving and sustaining community and every person has all sufficiency in food, resources, and work.
In honor of today's 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a lot of great writing about choice and abortion is out there. Shakesville has a piece up about the case of Bei Bei Shau, whose story highlights just how important the reproductive rights movement continues to be. (The fight ain't over!) Over at Feministe guest writer Taja Lindley, a full spectrum doula, shares a look her experience with her patients and the politics of abortion:

Some patients talk in circles:
I’m not one of those women who get an abortion.
I’m different than the other patients—I never planned to be here.
I’m not a statistic.
These examples show how women talk their way out of (or into) their internalization of public shaming and blaming, as if a certain kind of woman gets an abortion and other women do not. This circular thinking is another byproduct of the oversimplified binary of mainstream abortion politics, represented in policy and the media. But what gets lost in the respectability politics of abortion is how common an abortion procedure is: nearly 1 in 3 women have one in their lifetime.*
Because today is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, I can't help but take a moment to really think about how important that legislation is. First of all, 40 years is nothing...it's a flash in the pan. I mean, one of my friend's mom had to seek an illegal abortion when she was a teen. So really, abortion rights have been available for just over a generation. And yet, it has been just enough time for it to become a right which is all too often taken for granted.

Many young people I know are happy that abortion is an option, should they ever need it. But they don't necessary speak in support of it. They buy into the stigma. They talk about how they're pro-choice, but they would "never get an abortion myself!" They don't rally in support of choice and they would never speak openly about having accessed abortion services. They see things like marches on the capital as a thing of the past or something reserved for feminist extremists.

The truth is that abortion rights are constantly under attack. (Check out my "anti-choice" tag...and that's just what I have time to cover.) Especially as a resident of Texas, I find it very possible that I will see serious steps to repeal abortion rights completely in my lifetime. As someone who follows this situation closely, I see that the far right is chipping away at things and their views are gaining momentum. Fetal pain laws, sonogram requirements, and 20 week limits are all attempts to limit choice which are proposed by many states each year, and often gain a lot of support and traction. If you're not really thinking about it, you might continue to assume that abortion rights are a given. And this complacency, as well as buying into the stigma, are dangerous.

I remember when I used to think that one could be both "pro life" and a feminist. But I have come to realize that it is critical that feminist philosophy invest in the idea that bodily autonomy is sacred. As such, abortion rights have become more and more important for me to defend. So today I celebrate that landmark supreme court decision and thank the people who worked tirelessly to secure this right. Please know that there are people who will carry the torch from here.

If you are interested in helping to defend choice, please consider donating to the Planned Parenthood Federation or giving to/volunteering at your Planned Parenthood affiliate. I also recommend organizations like NARAL, Lilith Fund, and Emily's List.

*It is not just people who identify as women who access abortions.

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