Friday, February 3, 2012

Still Angry

While I'm glad that the Susan G. Komen foundation seems to have reversed its decision, I'm still angry.

It's time to stop demonizing abortion (and Planned Parenthood). Whatever your discomforts, convictions or beliefs about how other people should behave, it is necessary to acknowledge that life is messy, and that sometimes things have to happen that we don't like very much. You don't have to agree with abortion to be opposed to its criminalization. I would love it if no woman ever had an unwanted pregnancy, or a pregnancy complication for that matter, but that's not the world we live in.

It's time to acknowledge how easy it is to get pregnant unintentionally, whether through a momentary lapse, series of bad decisions, or unlucky contraceptive failure. It's also time to acknowledge that bearing a child and rearing a child are both significant challenges, sometimes burdens, that should not be taken lightly.

It's time to concede the grey areas. A first-trimester pregnancy is not the same as a newborn infant, and accordingly our society doesn't treat an early miscarriage the same as it does an infant death. An abortion is sad, but it is the woman's sadness, not ours, and she needs to be respected and trusted to make a decision.

The Komen foundation thought that they could quietly defund Planned Parenthood in part because we, the pro-choice community, have not been vocal enough in showing how strongly we believe in reproductive freedom. Subtly, we allow the implication that abortion is a personal failure, and is shameful. We think that it would never happen to us, until it does.

We allow politicians to yell and scream about "Medicaid funding for abortion" and we don't question them. Well, why shouldn't federal Medicaid fund abortion? It is a legal, safe procedure that affects the health of women. Taxes are not fee-for-service. I don't have a car, and I wish our country had more trains and less highways, but I don't yell and scream that my taxes shouldn't go to repairing and building roads (but maybe I should). Maybe Medicaid shouldn't fund abortions. Maybe there are good arguments to be made against funding it, even if I haven't heard any. But we should stop letting them take it for granted, and actually argue about it.

We quietly simmer while abortion access is severely curtailed through legislation and murderous intimidation. When restrictive laws are passed, we think, "How terrible. I'm glad I don't live there." Or if we do live there, then we think, "How terrible. I'm glad I don't need an abortion." What would be our response if laws restricted access to Pap smears? (After all, cervical cancer is caused by HPV, which is acquired through sex. Should Pap smears be shameful?) As this excellent Guttmacher article argues, we need to stop accepting "the apologetic approach."

Abortion is legal and most of the country is opposed to criminalization, but it is an easy target for conservatives who want to seem moral and religious. What if we yelled back, and told them that they were immoral for trying to shame women? What if we called them out for what their anti-abortion rhetoric really is, which is disrespect and hatred? The pro-choice community was angrier yesterday than I have ever seen it in my lifetime, and I think there is more anger out there. Let's start showing our anger.


Anonymous said...

Veronica, I agree with your post. The only thing I would add to your list of things that "it's time to acknowledge" is that men and women engage in sexual intercourse for intimacy, pleasure, and a host or reasons that have nothing to do with reproducing our species, but women face consequences for having sex that men never will. Restricting access to abortion hightens this inequality.

Veronica said...

Well said! I would have loved to add that, but I can get long-winded about this stuff. I will definitely be blogging about that in the future.

Anonymous said...

Hear, hear. I miss those days when we were fighting operation rescue and very very angry, in the streets. Am currently arranging a TAB for an 11 year old raped by her 19 year old brother, now in second trimester. I feel only heartbreak for her and her family and gratitude than I can assist in this way. The antis do not see/hear the same things I do.