Tuesday, March 28, 2006

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.


Lever said...

There's an increible amount of spiteful hostility from "pro-lifers" in "defence" of "saving lives" and yet I bet a huge proportion of them do their bit to poison & pollute the planet, thus indirectly damaging & destroying far more life through their own ignorance than they'd ever care to understand!

Groucho Castaneda said...

I'm pro-life. It's just that I opt for quality over quantity.

By its own admission, Christianity thrives on human misery. Growing up in a right-wing fundamentalist household, I heard countless sermons lambasting our "decadent" (read: wealthy, free, and relatively peaceful) culture, and yearning for the good old days of the Great Depression or the Plague or whatever when life was hard, but at least people believed in God. Talk about twisted.

Most "pro-lifers" are not genuinely, selflessly interested in the well-being of the fetuses they're supposedly "saving". No, in their eyes, every child born into an unpleasant situation is a prime candidate for conversion - another chance to save a soul and rack up some cosmic brownie points to cash in on a bigger mansion in Heaven.

Meanwhile, the abortion issue and the sex ed issue are inextricably linked. Sweden and the Netherlands - almost pornographically explicit sex-ed, but virtually zero unwanted pregnancy and abortion. The American South? Heavily censored, religiously correct sex-ed, and the highest out-of-wedlock birth and abortion rates in the world!

If you're really opposed to abortion, then for God's sake teach kids how not to get knocked up! Of course, their response will be that a sin is a sin is a sin, and there's no sense encouraging one (safer extramarital sex) to prevent another (abortion). And they won't listen if you tell them that they can't have it all - that, based on statistics, it's either one or the other.

All or nothing. No compromise. No give and take. If you ask me, such attitudes have no place in a democratic society.

Of course, the bottom line is that, whether they realize it or not, THEY DON'T WANT TO PREVENT OUT-OF-WEDLOCK BIRTHS! The more poor, suffering, mixed-up kids there are in this world, the more their ranks swell. Meanwhile, the higher the percentage of happy, materially comfortable, well-adjusted people we have in this world, the more the Church fades into irrelevance (like it has in Europe).

Part of what I don't think the Left realizes is WE HAVE THESE FUCKERS ON THE ROPES! This recent upsurge of fundamentalism is merely its death rattle. The advance of technology and march of human progress is on our side. We have the means to provide for everyone, and thus eliminate any need for organized religion. We simply have to get serious about it, get realistic about it, and get motivated.

End rant.

Ellen said...

I totally agree: I don't want to experience what life was like before Roe v. Wade. It seems like barbaric ancient history...

Kat E said...

What a great opportunity to get involved. Good for you. J and I are always talking about going down to DC to protest this or that, but something always gets in the way. I can tell you, I'd be on a bus in a heartbeat if Roe was being challenged. The abortion issue is not whether abortion itself is right or wrong (nobody thinks it's a GOOD thing!), but rather about whether the decision is up to you or the government. Why can't people GET THAT????