It has always been remarkable to me that the political right has preached the Gospel of Small Government in almost everything: in helping the unemployed, in Social Services for our most impoverished citizens, in assuring Health Care for those without, in taxes, almost everything conceivable is something “best left to the individual.” Everything, that is, except for their limited, closed, oppressive morality. Conservatives favor BIG Government when it comes to enforcing their God’s commandments; Big Government went it comes to sticking their noses in the bedroom, and incredibly Big Government went it comes to “protecting” a woman from her own body. When it comes to pushing poor women into back-alley abortions or teenage girls into social stigmatization, the Republican Party is a champion of Big government.
The assault on women has been ceaseless since the landmark liberation unleashed by Roe v Wade. The 1977 Hyde Amendment was a huge defeat for poor women across the country by eliminating Medicaid coverage for reproductive rights, and thus forcing millions of women who could not afford health care into back alleys to be killed or severely injured by crude procedures performed by often unqualified surgeons. After the passage of Hyde, hundreds of thousands of poor women have been brutalized because of the federal governments refusal to enforce the fundamental right to Choose. Stupak-Pitts, passed by the House in late 2009, represented a further expansion of Hyde into the seemingly landmark healthcare legislation. Where this law represented an opportunity for poor women once and for all to have the fundamental rights protected by our government, instead they were forced to factor their very lives into an already difficult decision equation. Hyde and Stupak-Pitts respectively have made Women’s’ rights a privilege for the Rich few who can afford Choice. After viewing a group of studies on Roe v Wade, one thing stuck out to me like a sore thumb: the number of abortions being performed after legalization did not increase sharply as many on the anti-woman side of the debate had predicted. I repeat, the number of abortions did NOT increase. What happened was a decrease in fact the number of deaths caused by unsafe back alley procedures.
Which brings me to my next point, the immense humor I find when conservatives feel they can hoot, holler, fire their weapons in one hand, applaud the death penalty with the other, and at the end of the day call themselves “God fearin’ pro-lifers!” You, Mr. Conservative, along with all your nefarious anti-woman blue dog cronies are “pro” a whole lot, but life is not among them. ”Pro” poor women dying from unsafe abortions that even then they could barely afford? I’d say so. ”Pro” patriarchal and male dominated government structures? Most definitely! How sad it is to see a pattern of policies in red states that shun critical contraceptive agents that would PREVENT the need for ANY abortion to occur in favor of fundamentally disproven theories of abstinence and “family planning.” I find it incredibly ironic that the vast majority of abortions performed are performed because the women receiving the abortions rarely used contraception, if at all.
But, I digress. Kermit Gosnell is a criminal and a monster, there is no doubt about that. Yet while conservatives point to jars of biological waste and holler, I need look only to the many women who suffered under this man to see the real crime. Forced abortions, botched procedures, and a dirty clinic are the very antithesis of the pro-choice movement. Women who have second thoughts, who decide to carry their children to term, or make the incredibly difficult choice to have an abortion deserve nothing less than the right to make that CHOICE. Drugging women, tying them to beds when they change their mind, and nearly killing several of them because of medical malpractice serves as a chilly reminder of what the days of abortions’ illegality were like, and what they could be like if the anti-women movement has its way. Killing a live baby is inexcusable, let’s make no mistake about that, but preserving a woman’s right to make the choice at any time during her pregnancy is fundamental. It is not for the state to decide during what select window a woman can exercise her fundamental rights. The decision to terminate is incredibly tough and varies from woman to woman, but short of a live baby being born, the fetus is still under the dominion of a woman and is thus still her choice. We cannot, and must not, accept lines being drawn in the sand on women’s rights, because once late term abortions have been entirely banned, it is all too easy for anti-women movements to take the fight deeper and deeper into our (pro choice) territory.
Pro-choicers! Feminists! Progressives! Stand Strong! The days of the 112th congress will be long and hard for the women’s rights movement, but if we learn to educate people beyond the headlines of “Kermit Gosnell is a babykiller, we should ban late term abortions everywhere”, we can preserve the steadily dwindling majority of Americans who are proud to call themselves “pro-choice”. Our greatest enemy is ignorance; educate yourselves on the WHOLE issue and make the foundations for your belief as strong as bedrock.
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