Why is unrestricted and unapologetic access to abortion rights a critical front for the war on women?
Reactionary movements led by Christian fundamentalists, or the Catholic Church — like the March for Life — are working on the very concrete and attainable agenda of redefining life in the Constitution so that abortion is illegal on the federal level. So that women’s lives are legally defined as less important than the potential life of a fetus.
The March for Life began in 1974 on the first anniversary of Roe v. Wade to protest the legalization of abortion. Since then it has grown by the thousands, and in 2005 it spawned the Walk for Life West Coast. This movement concentrates a whole society that LIES to women, actively keeps them from understanding their own biology, and stigmatizes and shames them for having abortions. Simultaneously they are lobbying and passing anti-sex education, anti-birth control and anti-abortion legislation that both objectifies and threatens women. This Friday and Saturday, these hordes will take to the streets of DC and San Francisco with their dehumanizing polarization of women as either incubators or murderers, and all the messages of objectification, shame, and condemnation that typifies this front of the War on Women.
In building for Stop Patriarchy’s counterprotest this Saturday in San Francisco, I heard a story from a woman who went to get an abortion BEFORE it was legal. She couldn’t raise a child. So she was referred to some shady “clinic” where she was sexually assaulted under pretense of being given an exam. That is what happens when abortion is criminalized. And that is only the tip of the iceberg. When abortion is illegal, women die. And the truth is, we are already on that path, going backwards. Several states have already passed “personhood” laws that define fetuses as “legally separate” humans from the real women who carry them, and this was covered as follows in a recent story by Democracy Now!
“A new study [called Criminalizing Pregnancy] shows hundreds of women in the US have been arrested, forced to undergo unwanted medical procedures, and locked up in jails or psychiatric institutions because they were pregnant.” “In one case, a judge in Ohio kept a woman imprisoned to prevent her from having an abortion.”
In another case exposed in the same study, a woman was legally forced into a C section against her will, which resulted in her death, AND the termination the fetus. They LEGALLY cut this woman open and killed her. And these are the people who claim a monopoly on morality??!!
A different kind of story, told on International Women’s Day last year in New York, was about a woman who got an abortion right AFTER it became legal. She said, “And if abortion wasn’t legal, I would have gone to get one illegally. This is my body. This is my life. And if I didn’t want to have a baby at 17, I wasn’t going to have one! And I can’t believe in 2012, they are trying to undo everything I did, everything we did.” That is what is at stake. The March for Life and all the Christian Fascists, the James Dobsons, Todd Akins, Richard Mourdocks, Salvatore Cordileones, and Timothy Dolans would have us go back to the days of shotgun marriages, no divorces, no birth control, no abortion, and these things add up to desperate and disastrous situations for women. Open and flagrant, systematic female enslavement.
Women and men standing up, speaking out, & fighting for it, with a moral and philosophical clarity is the ONLY WAY the right to abortion was ever won in the first place. The Supreme Court decision was made in the midst of a culture of resistance, and the women’s liberation movement, that was calling into question the legitimacy of traditional values and even capitalism. And ever since this right was established it has been under attack. That’s how it was won, and that’s the only way we can win again.
It is not acceptable for one more abortion doctor to be killed, for one more woman to need an abortion and not be able to access it, for one more clinic to be shut down, or for one more human being to find her life owned by a section of society, backed by the force of the state, that rejects science, promotes the dehumanization of half of humanity, and seeks to treat women like objects, like incubators. The future depends on what we do now. The future depends on whether or not people are willing to say: NOT ONE MORE. This is intolerable. This is what I know, and I will ACT on it.
For all these reasons, I am going to join others in taking to the streets this Saturday to counter the Walk for “Life”, and encourage and support and unite with anyone who will join us in saying, “We WON’T Go Back!”