Why We Vote with Our Uteruses
By Suzanne Reisman on January 24, 2008
BlogHer Original Post
Tuesday marked the 35th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the landmark Supreme Court decision that ruled that women are people who have the right, under the rubric of privacy, to decide whether or not we will give birth if we find ourselves pregnant. Ever since the ruling, opponents of women’s self-determination (i.e. – those who champion the rights of a fetus over those of the actual born and living) have worked tirelessly to revoke this right. They’ve been doing an excellent job with campaigns full of misinformation (for the record, fingernails do not develop until the 12th week of gestation, according to the Mayo clinic, and about 90% of abortions take place before that stage…), intimidation (not very life-affirming to stalk the children of doctors who perform abortions), and outright murder, so for the last few years, NARAL has asked bloggers to use the anniversary of Roe to set the record straight on why they are pro-choice.
Given that it is an election year and the importance of the Supreme Court’s composition in keeping abortion semi-accessible to American women, this year’s theme was why we vote for pro-choice candidates. A long list of bloggers responded with exceptionally thoughtful posts. Some included personal stories, others talked politics, and some combined both. (Click on the icon above for the full list of participants.)
Maya’s Granny wrote:
I have already told you about when my grandmother in California had given birth to five children in six years and wrote to her brother in Ohio, the doctor, asking how to prevent any more pregnancies. He wrote and gave her the information, but the first sentence in his letter was, "Memorize this information and then burn this letter because I could go to prison for telling you this."
Until my grandmother had that information, she had no choice, no control over her body and life at all. My grandfather was fated to work harder and harder and provide less for more children. Not being able to decide these very personal issues is less than freedom.
Murphy’s Law explained:
A lot has happened in the 35 years since the decision, namely, the judicial de-radicalization of the import of the ruling. Hurdles of every sort have been erected to prevent women from controlling all aspects of their reproductive health - but especially in the arena of abortion rights. In 2005 alone, there were over 50 abortion-specific regulations enacted in the states - and many of these are as inane as widening the hallways in abortion clinics (which many clinics cannot afford . . . you see where this is headed). These last 35 years have illustrated the importance of casting a pro-choice vote when you get the chance.
Wabi-Sabi Life bravely brought a rarely spoken truth to the forefront of her discussion:
…if abortions are restricted further… the rights are getting chipped away in the second trimester before the first. And contrary to popular belief, the woman who ends a pregnancy in the second trimester isn't a callous bubblehead who forgot to schedule the appointment at the clinic for five whole months. Women who get second-trimester abortions are often married, middle class, suburban, thirty-something mothers who loved the unborn baby they aborted. I am the face of second-trimester abortion. And that means you potentially are, too. This is happening to women with wanted, planned pregnancies all the time.
Do you know the details of any of these potential problems? I'm guessing not. I didn't until my unborn baby was diagnosed with one of them. And that's when I learned that what can sound so correct on a bumper sticker might feel wrong when it comes to your actual baby. I'm actually not saying all will want to have an abortion under my circumstances ... just that you will not truly know until faced with a real scenario. When faced with the heartbreak of a poor prenatal diagnosis, all the easy rhetoric falls away. Wouldn't it be terrible to discover then, too late, that abortion was an issue that impacted you directly after all, but it's completely off the table for you?
My uterus, although not functional due to polycystic ovarian syndrome, is very clever. I echo many of the bloggers who participated in Blog for Choice Day when I note the following: Over the years, I discovered something very interesting. So-called "pro-life" politicians - who love telling me that their religious morals are superior to mine - don't actually have much understanding of or respect for life. First, they seem to believe that pregnancy is something that a woman just does for a little while with absolutely no consequences. They don't seem to understand that pregnancy is devastating to a woman's body. At the very least, the changes in hormone levels affect everything from how a woman feels to how she thinks. Pregnancy can cause everything from nausea to swollen ankles to diabetes. It can force a woman who needs to work to not be able to perform her job, putting her (and her family) at economic risk. And while less common today than in the past, pregnancy can kill a woman. And let’s not forget the extreme danger of post partum depression, which affects up to 15% of women after they give birth. For someone who wants to have a child, these risks are willingly accepted. But to force a woman to endanger her health and possibly life is unreasonable and shows that a politician could care less about the lives of actual women (and their families who rely on them).
On a second level, "pro-life" politicians have suspicious disregard for what it takes to keep a person alive after they are born. Life is not being born and then you are done. Life is sustained at the most basic level through food, shelter, and clothing. Yet "pro-life" politicians are the ones leading the charge to cut support for affordable housing, for heating assistance, and for food stamps. Forget health insurance. It seems that kids with health issues like asthma don't actually need inhalers to help them breathe. It's ironic that someone who claims to care so much for life couldn't care less if a baby starved to death, had chronic untreated health issues, or had no where safe to live.
"Pro-life" politicians are not pro-life at all, but merely anti-self-determination. The fact is that politicians who understand the need to legal and accessible abortion are also the same ones who support programs that truly are pro-life. They respect individual decision-making, sex ed programs that help people make informed decisions that prevent unintended pregnancies, and go an extra mile to provide life-saving public programs that in the long run, might actually discourage abortion by providing a safety net for families and children. Pro-choice politicians also recognize that as a woman, I have a right to life, too. This is why I always cast my vote for someone who is pro-choice.
(As Murphy’s Law points out, many low-income women cannot obtain abortions because federal Medicaid funds will not cover the procedure. Go one step beyond voting for pro-choice candidates and tell them to repeal the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal Medicaid funds from paying for abortion services. Sign the "Hyde-30 Years is Enough! petition. Legal abortion is critical for all women, but useless to those who can't afford the procedure. My uterus raises its fist in solidarity.)
Suzanne also blogs at Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants and votes pro-choice in every election
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