This War on Women and a Strategy to Defend Choice

May 19, 2019

In Texas last month, male lawmakers introduced a bill that would give women the death penalty for having abortions, even if they were the victims of rape or incest. The news coming out of Ohio, Georgia, Alabama, Missouri and other “red” states is even more frightening as laws restricting a women’s control of her body have actually passed. What the hell is happening? Is America becoming Gilead? Are these states controlled by the Taliban? Is Donald Trump’s wet dream of turning the country into a misogynistic dictatorship coming true right before our eyes?

The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision didn’t settle the debate about abortion access. Supreme Courts can over-rule previous “established law.” Liberals have been hoping for a president who would appoint judges that would overturn the 2010 Citizens United decision that gave personhood to corporations. The 1896 Plessy v. Ferguson decision that made racial segregation constitutional was reversed by the the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision that ruled racial segregation unconstitutional. So don’t think the high court sets anything in stone. And now that Trump has placed two conservative white men on the court (Please don’t die, Judge Ginsburg!), expect more backwards motion.

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The abortion debate runs deep. I totally understand the pro-life position. The first day we heard my unborn daughter’s heartbeat changed my life. But their position has two major flaws. The first is that outlawing abortion will not end abortion. It will push it back into alleys (and on to the internet) where women will die from not having doctors and trained professionals carry out the procedure. (You can buy RU-486 on line, by the way.) The second is that these “pro-life” advocates could not care less about these “babies” once they are born. Alabama, for example, comes in 46th in health care for children and 50th for education. While the Cotton State was ruling that rape victims must carry their rapist’s child, they were executing a guy who committed his crime when he was a teenager. Pro-life!

So what do we do?

All the screaming in the world is not going to convince the “pro-life” (Really the pro-forced birth, pro-illegal abortion) crowd to let women have control over their bodies. They’re convinced that that clump of cells is a “person” who needs to be protected. They are dug in and we are dug in. How do we appeal to enough people in the middle to make sure this frighting trend doesn’t end up as a real-life Handmaid’s Tale?

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The good news is that the vast percentage of Americans (79%) are pro-choice. According to a May 2018 Gallup poll, 50% of Americans believe abortion should be legal under certain circumstances and another 29% believe it should be legal under any circumstance. Only 18% of Americans surveyed think abortion should be illegal. I’m going to guess that recent news coming out of places like Alabama is going to push the May 2019 numbers even more towards the pro-choice column.

We have a road map here. It’s the incredible shift in attitudes towards homosexuality and gay marriage. Over the last twenty years, American attitudes have flipped on gay marriage. It’s been one of the biggest and fastest attitude shifts in American history. How did that happen? How did we go from Ellen DeGeneres’ sitcom being cancelled because of outrage over a gay character on prime-time TV to marriage equality in all 50 states? Because people came out. There was a time when middle-America thought gay people were only in San Francisco, dancing in ass-less chaps in the streets of the Castro district. Now, LGBT folks are their family members, friends, co-workers, and (gasp) even their kids’ teachers. The movement to come out (even in Alabama) has certainly had casualties, including violent hate crimes, but the end result is that it’s a lot harder to scream about “homos burning in hell” when the family member you love comes out and asks, “Are you going to be with me or against me?”

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What’s been happening this week on social media feels a lot like the start of the #metoo movement in 2017, when women began telling their stories of harassment and rape. The genie of truth was out of the bottle. In the last few days, so many of my female friends have come forward with their stories of terminating pregnancies, including in red states. For some, it was a gut wrenching-decision. For others, it was a medical procedure that was just a step in retaining control over their lives. Some had been victims of rape. Others were not ready to add a child (or another child) to their lives. All were allowed to make the decision for themselves. Their right to dictate what went on in their bodies was not challenged, because, as Leslie Jones said on SNL, “You can’t control women because — I don’t know if y’all heard — but women are the same as humans.”

Men need to step up and join their sisters (figurative and literal) on the front lines. As a man without a uterus, I’ve learned to take a back seat on the abortion decision itself. To be 100% honest, I have had the front seat in this discussion on a personal level. Since it’s not my body, my only job has been to be supportive and respectful. Fragile men pass these laws but they can also be dicks when they should just shut up and make some tea. So, as a man I can’t say, “Women, you need to do this…” But as a sociologist, my hunch is that the more women and girls come forward with their stories about exercising their right to make choices, some hard, about their bodies, the more people in the middle will not see pro-choice women as “baby killers” or any of the other pejoratives that are hurled at females who are often just trying to get through a rough patch. The bottom line is that men have to both defer to women but also ramp up their initiative and effort to defend those women. If women and girls are going to tell their truths, we dudes have to make our brothers listen.

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Thirty years ago I volunteered as an escort for an abortion clinic in Atlanta. This was a time when a so-called “Christian” group called Operation Rescue was harassing women who were entering women’s clinics, some just for simple pap smears and OB-GYN appointments. I would walk the women in as these maniacs would scream the worst things imaginable at them. I would try to provide a distraction by talking about the weather or the latest episode of Cheers. It was clear that these “pro-life” harassers were more traumatizing to the women than the actual task at hand. 

I think that’s what’s going on now. Men are losing their long grip on patriarchy. From Title IX to #metoo, their assumed authority is eroding. They will recruit a few willing women who need a “strong man” to shape their shifting world, and flock to a pussy-grabber president who will take them back to the “again” America, before Brown v. the Board of Education, before the modern feminist movement, and before Roe v. Wade. Their best weapon is to traumatize girls and women again. To weaken them with threats of returning to the back-alley past. To bring back Father Knows Best. To reach into the femaleness of females to terrorize their humanity. To proclaim them less than human.

But it’s different this time. Women and girls are different. And so are many of the men and boys who now stand with them. The old men have lost their control over us. We won’t go back.

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20 thoughts on “This War on Women and a Strategy to Defend Choice

  1. So, essentially what your saying is that banning abortions would push abortions to the streets, where untrained doctors would preform these procedures. Your forgetting one thing though, the pro-life argument (where I stand completely) is based on 60 million babies killed since 1973, in other words “the masses.” The part where you claim banning abortions would push them to be performed illegal pertains to a soon to be small percentage of women that want to take that risk. Over all the choice to kill an unborn infant is not a woman’s right, because the baby has rights to “being a life!” It’s called “life” before “liberty”, and currently unborn infants aren’t getting the right to life, which is pretty much giving the carrying mother the right to murder. Don’t say it’s not true, because it is. Women have been murdering unborn babies for the last 40 years legally, and it needs to stop.

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    1. Rights are afforded to persons. At the heart of this debate (pun intended) is a question about when does a fetus become a human. Is it the heartbeat that you can hear at 9 or 10 weeks? Or, how about when the fetus no longer needs the mother, which is At 22 weeks; it can be extracted from a woman and kept alive until it develops. Then there are questions of what other rights it has once it is a ‘person.’ If a fetus is a person at 22 weeks, and still inside of its mother, and the mother is undocumented does that mean that since she was in the US at 22 weeks, and the fetus became a person via the heartbeat test, is that fetus now an American, b/c they became a person on US soil? What if the mother was deported and had the child in her home country? Does she have the right to bring the American citizen back to the US and re-enter on that basis? This is just one example of how this could go haywire on conservatives. There are other unintended consequences that might happen. I don’t think the pro-lifers have thought this all the way through.

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  2. Religiously, I don’t believe in it. The second there’s a heartbeat, that is not just a fetus, it’s a human life that is growing. But, let’s put religious beliefs to the side for a second. Until 2 years ago, Oregon had the most extreme law about abortion passed. Oregon is a state that is neck deep in debt ranging from PERS to Wildfire relief fund. Yet, they managed to pass a bill originally by the house then the voters allowing abortions to be paid for by the taxpayers (measure 106).

    Earlier this year, New York and Virginia have bills that are under severe scrutiny. Both of them allow women to not only have an abortion during the third trimester, but if the “aborted baby” is still breathing, doctors are not to keep it alive. You mean to tell me that you stand by and actually support that decision? Killing the baby when the mother is in the third trimester? Killing the baby at the last minute and deciding she didn’t want the baby after all?

    This law that was passed in Alabama wasn’t just passed by men. It was something that was presented by the governor who is a WOMAN. Alabama and Georgia is bringing something else to the table. They are bringing a real discussion about pro-life vs. pro-choice.

    Here’s the biggest problem I have about abortion. There’s a woman and a man who meet, sleep together, and go there own way. She finds out she’s pregnant and he wants nothing to do with her. Because of that decision, the woman then has an abortion because she doesn’t want the baby. Using abortion as a form of birth control is a major problem. Realizing the woman doesn’t the baby “just because” is the wrong answer.

    As many people are fighting and pointing fingers about who’s right and who’s wrong, there’s a problem that hasn’t truly been addressed: the psychology afterwards. Women have been known to fall into a deep state of depression. Some might bounce back, others commit suicide. Yes, life over death for that unborn child is big, but we also need bring to discussion about how to help these women.

    You know what’s both sad and heartbreaking to me? The fact that we live in a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah. We as a nation (especially Portland) would rather worship: Asherah, Baal, and Dagon. We are a nation who says murder is wrong, but supports abortion. The definition of abortion is: the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy. By that definition, it’s murder.

    I pray that we as a nation can look to and seek God. We need God back in this country. We need to stop living for the world and live for God.

    “I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)

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    1. Brian- I don’t think you completed thorough research when you reference NY and VA bills when it comes to late term abortions.

      “After 24 weeks, such decisions must be made with a determination that there is an ‘absence of fetal viability’ or that the procedure is ‘necessary to protect the patient’s life or health.’ That determination must be made by a ‘health care practitioner licensed, certified, or authorized’ under state law, ‘acting within his or her lawful scope of practice.'”

      With that being said let’s refer to your example about a man and a woman meeting and then she later find out that she is pregnant and he does not want to be an active parent… First of all she could have definitely been on birth control or used a condom. Birth control is not 100% effective.

      So you want her only choice to continue the pregnancy which means leaving work for appointments (potentially loss of income since we can’t guarantee she has access to sick time), time off from work to give birth and then leading to two other scenarios:

      Scenario 1, she keeps the baby and tries to put the baby’s father on child support… Child support does not pay for 50% of the actual costs of raising a child. The child support enforcement is a joke! A parent can accumulate so much debt and it not prevent them from living their best life without a child. So we want to hold a mother accountable for having sex which took two people and the father ONLY has consequences when his check can get garnished? And this mother ends up on welfare, WIC, free and reduced lunch, maybe section 8, etc. (You know– all the other things that people complain about). Or maybe she has to now work 2 full time jobs and her child doesn’t receive the support they need to succeed and we have another child navigating through their life without the needed support from their parent… Maybe the potential mother had a scholarship to finish college and be the first in their family to finish college… Maybe this potential mother grew up with a single parent and saw firsthand what the struggles were and is trying to break that cycle. Maybe that potential mother is high risk for illnesses…

      Oh right- but let’s not forget adoptions or foster care right?

      Adoptuskids.org says that there are 400,000 children in foster care and 100,000 available to adopt. Brian have you adopted a child or foster these children?

      The US Children’s bureau reports that there has been a 10% increase in child abuse since 2013 – a total of 3,501,000 in 2017!!

      But fuck those kids that already exist right? Let’s just force women who is not ready to have a child to have a child because that fetus deserves to play a game of roulette and hope that they are not 1 of the 400,000 waiting for a home or 1 of 3,501,000 of abused children.

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      1. I do appreciate your input. My sister was a single mother for 14 years. It was her and my nephew. They had their own place living in California. My sister has tried to collect child support from his dad and never did. She did on her own without the help of others. Oh, not to mention, she didn’t have a high school diploma.

        There’s a little boy I’m mentoring. He’s 1 of 3 kids. He’s 7 and his dad walked out when he was 4. His mother is doing it all on her own without the assistance of anybody. She’s working and putting herself through college.

        I share those two because if a woman wants to strive to make it, she can.

        As far as adoption, my wife and I are actually in the process of adopting a child. These states make it easy to abort a baby, but don’t make it easy for a woman or even a couple to have a baby. It costs around 20k – 30k for fertility treatment. What’s wrong with that?

        So it’s ok to make abortion easy and affordable if not free, but don’t want to help have a baby? What does that say about our society or ideology?

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  3. Here’s another idea, when is one of our politicians going to do something about helping people who want to have a baby but are unable to? Costing of an abortion, nothing. Cost for fertility treatment, thousands. They’ll help you kill your baby, but not help a family have one. Where’s the problem with that?

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  4. Honestly Randy, you disgust me. You don’t need to have a uterus to identify evil, and in your case feelings are superior to facts. The facts are, 60,000,000 unborn infants have been killed since Roe V Wade in 1973, and not much action has been taken against that. On the feelings side, yes there still will be that 1.5% incest percentage and some children will grow up less fortunate than other, but the point your missing is that everybody that is for abortions has already been born. PS, another thing nobody is mentioning is “adoptions”, if you can’t handle a child when it is born, put it up for adoption. Simple.

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    1. There’s a ton of help for women with fertility. And as a matter of fact, the majority of our human history “God” was a goddess of fertility. That was before men and their “father” gods started devaluing women and trying to control their bodies.

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      1. If there is help, it’s payment plans that “make it affordable.” I know this because my wife and I looked and did research because we’ve had problems trying to conceive. Everyone one if them said they could help set us up with payment plans, but that was about it.

        Cost of abortion (excluding Oregon because it’s practically free here now) is about $300. IUI on an average of what we’ve seen is about $1500. That’s getting the sperm as close as possible to the egg. IVF costs an average of $20000. So my question is, why so much to end life than to give?

        As far as God….God was NEVER a goddess. Doesn’t matter if it’s in the Bible, Koran, or Torah, its never referred to God as a goddess. That’s the world’s claiming. God wants us to be fruitful and have babies. However, because the world is so sinful, this is the burden we have to live with. Whatever God has planned for us, we accept it because He has something much greater planned for us.

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