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.
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.