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An Open Letter

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This is kind of weird, right? Blogging you a letter?

But. Right now I have things to say about the very subject which caused our argument. Feminism and reproductive freedom– why does it matter so much to me?

Why are feminists so “obsessed” with reproductive choice? Why can’t we just calm the fuck down about it?

Well. Here we are.

There’s this.

Oh, and there’s HR3. That one you should know about, but if you haven’t been paying attention, it basically makes it (more) impossible for women on medicaid to get an abortion for any reason whatsoever, and also severely curtails the ability of private insurers to include abortion coverage, oh…and it restricts women from using their pre-tax money from medical savings accounts for abortions. So.

There’s also HR385, which extends conscience clauses such that a doctor won’t be held accountable for refusing to save the life of a pregnant woman at the expense of her fetus.

Theres the bill that would strip all Title X funding from family planning clinics, which would severely curtail poor people’s access to contraception, cancer and STI screenings, and  sexual health information.

In our home state, they are trying to implement, in addition to a mandated speech about what a horrible, horrible thing women are doing by having a safe legal medical procedure, a 72 hour waiting period between mandated pre-abortion counseling and actually having an abortion. We don’t have an in state provider, one flies in from Minnesota, so if you have to wait 72 hours (assuming you can get the time off work, and make it to the one lonely city here), you probably can’t get an abortion in this state.

It’s not getting better anywhere else.

So, this is why I care so much about reproductive rights. This is why I get so annoyed when someone insists to me that I WILL want babies of my own someday. Because they aren’t doing that insisting in a vacuum, they are speaking with the weight of a culture determined to make damn good and sure that I WILL have babies behind them.

Because our reproductive rights, even the ones that seem like a no brainer, even our birth control pills, our free condoms, our sliding scale STI tests and treatment, our annual pap smears, they aren’t settled. The question of whether or not women are just walking aquaria– it does not appear to have been settled to the satisfaction of the public.

Certainly,  most people don’t have an issue with reproductive freedom. Most people wisely recognize that sex is a near universal practice and making it safer is probably kind of a good plan. But most people are not willing to fight for those rights.

And the people most affected, well, they don’t have the resources or the time to carry the torch. Poor women, mothers trying to support the children they already have, women in coercive, abusive relationships with men who would happily get them pregnant just to make sure they have an inseverable bond, well, it isn’t fair to demand that they rise up and ensure our continued freedom.

So it’s on me. And other privileged people. It’s on us to give a damn, to talk about it like it matters, to issue annoying reminders that there are constant attacks on these things that seem so simple, so logical. It’s on me to continue to take it seriously.

Reproductive freedom is the foundation of my feminism because it is inexorably tied to economic, educational, and environmental outcomes. Every other issue that I think about as a feminist bumping around in the world– class, race, health, food, the environment– every single one, cannot be talked about without connecting it to reproductive freedom.

So yes. I will continue to get good and pissed off when people insist to me that I, and other women like me, exist to bear children. Yes. Because it reduces me to one single thing that I am able to do, but don’t want to.  I will get good and mad because when people push at me about having babies, they are also talking about race, and about class.  Because  the idea that women exist for having babies at the whims of the patriarchy is an old, old tenet of misogyny, and women are in a double bind– producing children is used to dehumanize us, and not producing children is used to dehumanize us.

I don’t know, or care really, whether you agree with me on the underlying principles and ideas pushing the movement to limit reproductive rights.

But I hope that all of the evidence, of which I could gather mountains and mountains from most of the states, will convince you that reproductive rights are a big deal to feminists for a reason.


About Pepper

Pepper Lee Hales is a twenty something, married, vicious feminist liberal. She likes dogs, cats, spiders, epistemics and cake.

8 responses »

  1. I have no words. And the House just voted to defund PP. WTF. WTF!

    I don’t understand. We shouldn’t have sex? Is that it? Or just no women’s health? Should we roll over and be your baby-carrying, unprotected Bitch? Yes? Really?

  2. The same law that would require a 72 hour waiting period also requires the woman to visit a “pregnancy help center.” These places sound deceivingly innocent, as if they will give you accurate answers to all of the questions you need help with regarding an unplanned pregnancy. Many young pregnant women visit these places on their own volition, expecting compassionate service. Instead, these crisis pregnancy centers are run by religious groups who insist that sex is only for marriage and that abortion for any reason is an unforgivable sin. These places front as legitimate health clinics, but have no trained medical staff (save for perhaps an ultrasound technician). They make claims that having an abortion raises the risk for breast cancer later in life, as well as the risk of future suicidal thoughts/tendencies. Neither of these claims has EVER stood up to unbiased, scientific research. These places also use guilt and emotional manipulation to try to convince women that they should not have abortions.

    Requiring women who are seeking abortions to visit one of these centers is an insult to women as well as to medical providers. It is an implication that women do not know how to make decisions on their own, and that abortion providers are biased in the care that they provide–that they counsel women to simply end their pregnancies with no regard to anything other than the medical act of performing the procedure. It is also potentially emotionally damaging to women. Forcing guilt and shame on a woman by making her feel as if her sexual decisions and/or her considering ending a pregnancy is unforgivable. Absolutely unforgivable.

    • Let me rewrite my last statement:
      Forcing guilt and shame on a woman by making her feel as if her sexual decisions and/or her considering ending a pregnancy is wrong is unforgivable. Absolutely unforgivable.

  3. A-fucking-men. I Loathe CPC’s from the very core of my being. They are nests of misogyny and liars, and no-one should be compelled to be shamed, guilted and berated just to end her pregnancy. I would also contend that it violates freedom of religion, because CPC’s are always christian funded and christian run. I have never heard of a secular, non-religious CPC, and I very very much doubt that you could find one anywhere. Which means that this law would subject women to proselytizing as well as completely fucking banana’s made up bullshit about abortion. It makes me so.angry.

  4. Hello again…
    I just read HB1217, which imposes the 72-hour waiting period. I would invite you to print it from the SD Legislature website and look over it. It is even more restrictive than I had originally thought. It will virtually make abortion impossible in SD. How? Here is a small part of the bill:

    In Section 3, 3b, (page 4 of the printed bill) it states: “prior to signing a consent to an abortion, the physician shall first obtain from the pregnant mother, a written statement that she obtained a consultation with a pregnancy help center, which sets forth the name and address of the pregnancy help center, the date and time of the consultation, and the name of the counselor at the pregnancy help center with whom she consulted.”

    Section 4 (page 5): “On the day on which the abortion is scheduled, no physician may take a consent for an abortion nor may the physician perform an abortion, unless the physician has fully complied with the provisions of this Act and first obtains form the pregnant mother, a written, signed statement setting forth all information required by subsection (3)(b) of section 3 of the Act.” (this is the section I typed above)

    Section 6 (page 7): “The pregnancy help center is under NO obligation to communicate with the abortion provider in any way, and is UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO SUBMIT ANY WRITTEN OR OTHER FORM OF CONFIRMATION THAT THE PREGNANT MOTHER CONSULTED WITH THE PREGNANCY HELP CENTER.” (emphasis mine)

    So the doctor must have a written form from the pregnancy “help” center in order to perform the procedure, but the pregnancy “help” center is under no obligation legally or otherwise to provide that written form. There will be no more abortions in South Dakota if this law passes, which of course is its intended purpose.

    Who’s ready for a subversive revolution of pissed-off South Dakota women? I am.

  5. FUCK. That is my reaction to that. NO. Just. NO. A ban was voted down– this is fucking racketeering. Can I sue someone? Can I demand that this be struck down under racketeering laws?


  6. Pingback: Standing with Planned Parenthood. « Women Are From Mars

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