Friday, January 26, 2007

The World We Want

The ACLU gives me hope with this piece. When I wrote the letter to Aradia Women's Health Center's donors & supporters announcing our closure, I ended with this thought:

Our success is due in large part to you, Aradia’s supporters, who have consistently believed in the power of feminist health care and championed Aradia’s mission. I hope our vision statement continues to inspire you and that you carry it forward: Aradia Women's Health Center envisions a world where each woman's individual choices regarding her reproductive and sexual health are respected so that she may live freely and truly reach her highest potential.

Because that is truly what's important - we must all continue our work towards the creation of the world we want to see, the world we want to live in, and the world we want our children to inherit. The dissolution of Aradia is depressing on many levels - but ultimately we need to ensure that we are ever vigilantly carrying forward a vision of a future where all women live in justice and equality.

The World We Want: 34 Years after Roe v. Wade

By Louise Melling, Director, ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project

Thirty-four years ago this month the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Roe v. Wade, significantly expanding the ability of women across the country to decide when and whether to become a parent. The decision, while immensely important, was only one step in this country’s journey to true reproductive freedom. The world we want includes access to safe and legal abortion care, secures our right to have children when we are ready, and supports programs that foster healthy families and healthy lives for all.

The decision when and whether to become a parent is one of the most private a person can make and one that has a profound affect on all aspects of our lives. To participate fully in society, we must be free to answer for ourselves whether we are ready and capable of being parents. To achieve this world, we must continue to strive for reproductive freedom for everyone.

Supporting the right to have children: In the world we want, women, men, and families have the support they need to maintain healthy lives, healthy pregnancies, and healthy families. Reproductive health care is basic health care. All parents are equipped with the means to care for and educate their children and provide for their families.

Ensuring the right not to have children: In the world we want, all women have meaningful access to contraception and abortion, and both are considered part of basic health care. Unfortunately, in the world we live, we see a growing disparity between the ability of rich and poor women to prevent unintended pregnancies and obtain abortion care.

Educating for healthy lives: In the world we want, the government puts resources into programs that offer real information for real lives. Instead of federally funded abstinence-only-until-marriage programs that fail to give teens information on how to prevent unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, government supported sexuality education would give people the information they need to make healthy decisions when it comes to sex, relationships, and family planning.

The world we want meets the needs of real people working to build a life for themselves and their families. On this 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it is time to take a critical look at the world we have and start working together to build the world we want.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Anti-Choice Strategy: We Care About Women...except when it comes to their bodies

The forced birth strategists have decided to try a new strategy. Will we see an end to those disgusting images of bloody and dismembered fetuses on signs at every counter-demonstration of pro-choice rallies; what about the oh-so-crafty activities of the religious zealots hurling insults at women entering abortion clinics; or, finally, the endless legislation dictating what kinds of politically-named, fake procedures can and cannot be performed by doctors?

The New York Times Magazine on Sunday reports on an "evolving antiabortion strategy that aims to "dismantle the framework" of pitting fetuses against women (a perfectly heinous image), instead taking the perspective that abortion is, according to the NY Times article, at the "root of women's psychological ills."

Despite mountains of extremely current evidence to the contrary, anti-choice advocates have apparently decided that abortion hurts women by increasing the risk of: depression, drug abuse and other issues. Or, really, they have decided that maybe that tack will get them ever closer to their goals of ensuring control of women's bodies.

I think the anti-choice activists have a parallel strategy: to break down pro-choice advocates by introducing endless, meaningless, absurd reasons for why abortion should be illegal. Ultimately, I think they are hoping to exhaust us with their clueless approach and stunning lack of concern or compassion for women.

Marcy Bloom is going to write about this for RH Reality Check this week. I look forward to reading what she has to say!

Monday, January 22, 2007

Blog for Choice: The Choices of Mothers

Blog for Choice Day - January 22, 2007

It's the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade Day and I'm ruminating on what choice means to me - as a mother. For all of the statistics & facts that we hear: 61% of women seeking abortions are already mothers; women who have abortions and women who have children are the SAME women at different points in their lives, I still don't see mothers, as a force, organizing strongly enough, to make a deep dent in the reproductive rights landscape on behalf of all mothers.

When I talk about my perspective on reproductive rights, there is no way I can even begin to frame the issue outside of my role as a mother.

When we throw phrases out like "My body, my choice" and "Motherhood by choice", I think not only of my vehement stance that abortion should be safe, legal and accessible to all women in order for women to be free but that the ways in which women birth, the resource available to women before motherhood, during birth and post-birth are plentiful and accessible.

Right now women in this country are given very few, abominably few options when it comes to making a decision about when and how to have children. Most women in this country are not even given the proper pre-natal resources to ensure a healthy pregnancy and delivery. Postpartum care is available to the most privileged among us which leaves a great majority of women in this country suffering in silence, thinking that the myth of blissful motherhood must be their faults. Midwifery is barely an option for most women in this country, cesarean sections are becoming standard regardless of what a woman may ultimately want. Paid - or even unpaid maternity leave (or paternity leave) is far too rare to ensure economic security for families with babies, affordable childcare is even scarcer.

The truth is, the idea of "choice" for women when it comes to much of our sexual and reproductive health and lives, is a dream we have chased for far too long. I am not talking solely of ensuring that abortion remains an option available to pregnant women (which, we all know, is not truly an option for most poor, teenage or non-English speaking women in this country) but that our ability to make the best choices for our sexual and reproductive health and lives is being severely hampered in our country - still.

So, on this anniversary of the historic Roe v. Wade decision, when we acknowledge the tenuous platform on which legal abortion balances, we must also be aware that we have not even begun to remedy the threats to motherhood on multiple levels in this country.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Is Hilary Pro-Choice?

Well, she's done it. Hilary Clinton has declared her intention to run for President of the United States. And Emily's List has their panties in a wad. They are very excited.

I guess if I let myself, I'm excited as well. It's an incredible time to be living through - we may be witness to the first female president of the United States.

But since my topic du jour these days is reproductive health and rights, I'm on a quest to figure out where Ms. Clinton stands in regards to reproductive health & rights. Where do her (and did her) votes lie on the sexual and repro health issues in the Senate?

Hilary on Parental Notification:

I believe in parental notification. I think there are exceptions. There are situations in which the family is so dysfunctional that notification is not appropriate. In general, I think families should be part of helping their children through this.

Hilary on Partial Birth Abortion (you know, the non-existent procedure named by anti-choice political strategists):

I have said many times that I can support a ban on late-term abortions, including partial-birth abortions, so long as the health and life of the mother is protected. I�ve met women who faced this heart-wrenching decision toward the end of a pregnancy. Of course it�s a horrible procedure. No one would argue with that. But if your life is at stake, if your health is at stake, if the potential for having any more children is at stake, this must be a woman�s choice.

Hilary on Abortion:

But I think it's essential that as Americans we look for that common ground that we can all stand upon. [Our] core beliefs and values. can guide us in reaching our goal of keeping abortion safe, legal and rare into the next century.

NARAL gives her a 100% we love you Hilary and would die by you Hilary. But, I, on the other hand do not think that she would be the voice of complete reason on this issue.

More later.

Feminist Peace Network