and for today
I am pro-choice. It is not for me to make that decision for a woman. It is not for the government or the church or her neighbor to do so either.
After the legislation banning abortion passed in the South Dakota legislature, the Daily Granola community referred me to a blog post detailing what would be required to open an underground abortion clinic. This post has generated over 800 comments expressing all kinds of viewpoints on the question of abortion. The Author's a tough cookie. Posting this information and being staunchly pro-choice has put her on the receiving end of hatefulness and death threats from people who claim to value life.
That post and the ones that follow are a very interesting dialogue. The folks that thought women who were raped should not have the option of abortion were a shock. The commentor who thought that women who had consensual sex and then chose to have an abortion were guilty of murder and should be sentenced to life in prison or the death penalty was also a shock. And some folks just really hate the idea of women haveing sex for pleasure or intimacy. They insist that women don't matter, breeding matters. I wonder if the same people are against the sale and use of Viagra or eager to criminalize condom use.
Her March blogging has been pretty lively.
For other arguments on the topics of choice and sex ed I can refer you to the Angry Black Bitch.
Makes me think we are being pushed back from the long way we came, Baby. *sigh*
Seems like time for people to start pushing back. So I signed up to participate in the "Lobby for Women's Health 2006: Responsibility = Prevention." I got up at 6am, put on a black suit and my grown girl shoes, threw a bag lunch together, and got on a bus for Jeff City.
Two buses were filled up with people from the Lou, "ooh aaah, St. Charles," and Chesterfield. There were more people than seats. Some folks ended up carpooling instead. There were buses from Rolla, Columbia, Springfield, Kirksville, and Kansas City. There were more folks than fit in the rotunda for the opening ceremony. We were recognized during the Senate Session. We all stood up and were acknowledged.
And then we lobbied about two bills. I will leave it to you to guess on which side:
HB1520/SB943The Prevention First Act
- Ensures school district accountability to current sex ed law to provide age appropriate medically accurate sex ed that includes information about contracepttion.
- Ensure that victims of sexual assault who present at an emergency room are provided with info about Plan B, emergency contraception.
- Prohibits government interference in a woman's access to contraception.
- Directs funding for a program that serves low-income women with well-woman services.
- Requires pharmacies to ensure all legal prescriptions for birth control and emergency birth control are filled in a timely manner without hardship to the patient.
(There are stories in MO of pharmacists who refuse to fill prescriptions for Plan B and then refuse to give the prescription back to the customer. Women have had to request the assistance of police officers to retrieve their prescriptions. And all this because pharmacists are ill-informed and refuse to read the FDA studies. Plan B is a high dose of birth control not RU-486. It does not work on fertilized eggs. It does not abort. It invites the unfertilized egg to take an exit stage below.)
HB1075/SB776 Sex MIS-Education
- Eliminates the requirement that sex education in Missouri's public and charter schools include medically and factually accurate information about contraception. Instead, it would refer teens to their "previously designated family practitioner."
- Bans trained sex educators and unbiased information from public schools if the individual or publication is affiliated with a "provider of abortion services."
Sex ed with no information about contraception. Seriously?
Them was the issues. We weren't asking for state funding for abortions or over the counter access to RU-486 or laws stating that Missouri recognizes that a woman has a right to control her own body or that the citizens of Missouri have a right to privacy. Just medically accurate sex ed and unfettered access to prescription birth control.
We walked the state capitol from top to ground. I shook hands with a state representative in a targeting lobby team. I shook hands with my state senator and my state representative. My state representative has an anti-choice voting record. Which had me wondering what I should say. Surprisingly, my visit coincided with four women who are Republicans for Choice. They had copies of the bills in question and highlighted language that was of concern to them. They had been in ongoing email contact with the representative for quite a while. They were organized, dedicated, and determined. They were also impeccably turned out in their designer clothes. It was a spirited but civil back and forth.
I don't know if anyone was swayed in one direction or another. The gentleman representative from my district said something to the effect that essentially everyone wants the same things we just can't agree on how these things are accomplished. I would love to think that this is true. But I'm not so sure.
Unlike South Dakota, Missouri prefers indirect attacks on reproductive rights. Bills that bar funding for anyone who dares mention abortion or is in any way affiliated with a group that mentions abortion. Bills that bar funding for family planning that bar funding for contraception. Bills allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense birth control. Bills allowing pharmacists to refuse to dispense Plan B (which is contraception!) protecting them from civil or criminal prosecution and from censure or loss of license. Bills that affect women. Bills that affect low income women.
A woman on the bus told me that she remembers a time when Planned Parenthood was putting women on airplanes flying to New York to get abortions. A man told me that his two daughters grew up after Roe and they can't understand what it was like before Roe. I can't understand it either. I don't want to experience what life was like before Roe. I really don't.