By Allie Fry
July 15 marks the National Day of Action for Abortion Rights. Events have sprung up nationwide to stand with Texas women, who have bravely mobilized to defend their autonomy.
Concerning the violence against women Texas Governor Rick Perry is attempting to enact, he said, “The louder they scream, the more we know we are getting something done.” So a job well done should leave thousands screaming for their rights?
We cannot underestimate how devastating this legislation could be. Concerning pregnancies that endanger women’s lives, Ana Mardoll, a feminist blogger, emphasizes how women with disabilities would be impacted by the proposed abortion restrictions. Mardoll writes that she and her husband have been trying to conceive, but the dangers to her health she could face from that pregnancy may not be apparent before the 20th week cutoff proposed by Texas legislators. She writes, “Which state can I flee to, if my life is in danger from a wanted pregnancy?”
Banning and restricting abortions solves nothing; rather it perpetuates violence against women. Legislation limiting women’s access to health care serves one purpose: to control women’s bodies. The hard fact is that abortions will happen no matter what laws are in place, but instead of at clinics, they’ll happen in back alleys, endangering the lives of women, especially women of color, women with disabilities, and women of lower socioeconomic status.
I had the opportunity to hear poet and activist, Sonya Renee Taylor speak at a Take Back the Night event. Her poem “What Women Deserve” responds to an anti-choice campaign that used the slogan “Women Deserve Better” [than abortion]. Sonya’s powerful words show how this anti-choice rhetoric misses the point entirely:
“Women deserve better/ than backward governmental policies/ that don’t want to pay for welfare for kids,/ or healthcare for kids,/ or childcare for kids/… They don’t want to pay for shit/ but want to control the woman who’s having it.”
A pro-choice campaign, 1 in 3, publishes women’s stories about abortion in an attempt humanize the debate and strip away the stigma associated with abortion. I told a friend about the campaign and she responded in total disbelief. One in three women in the United States will have an abortion before the age of 45? Really? The answer is yes, and the most devastating thing about this statistic is that abortion is preventable.
Anti-choice campaigns want people to think of pro-choice activists as pro-abortion. To be pro-choice is to be pro-women’s empowerment. If Congress could shift its focus away from stripping women of their bodily autonomy to mandating comprehensive sex education, ensuring access to contraceptives as well as quality health care, child care, and education, and enacting laws that would criminalize, rather than protect, rapists, we would have a much less dramatic statistic.
Instead, we’re stuck teaching BIO 101 to white cis-male legislators and expending our precious activist energies on defending the basic right have ownership of our bodies.
If you are as justifiably terrified and angry as I am, please join CODEPINK DC, DC ISO, and other activists this Monday, July 15 at Lafayette Square at 8PM. We will be standing in solidarity with Texas in a symbolic action. If you’re not in DC, join or start a rally in your community.
RSVP and learn more here.
Allie Fry is a junior at Knox College studying Women and Gender Studies. She is interning in the CODEPINK DC office for the summer of 2013.
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