This year’s question for Blog for Choice Day is, “What does ‘Trust Women’ mean to you?” – in honor of the late Dr. Tiller who often wore a button with those two simple words.
Kay Steiger: The thing that we always forget about the abortion debate is that this is an issue that is fundamentally about class. Women with a certain amount of money and privilege will always have access to abortion — even if it were to be made outright illegal in this country. But disadvantaged women have it much, much harder. Women’s abortion rights have been drastically rolled back over the years. As a writer at RH Reality Check, I wrote regularly about the various ways states were trying to rollback the right to abortion: introducing waiting periods, TRAP laws, ultrasound requirements, personhood amendments, and more. Even on television and in TV shows, it has become taboo to discuss abortion.
Radical Doula: Each year, I find myself unable to write about choice without talking about why I want it to be justice instead. As I’ve talked about before, choice isn’t enough. Choice doesn’t recognize that we don’t all have a choice. That often times our choices are impacted by what others want, by what we can afford, by what we will allow ourselves to do. Our choices are mediated by politicians, religious figures, our paycheck this month. Our choices are limited by our family members, our lovers, what we see on TV and who is close to us when we have to make a decision. Our choices are determined by the color of our skin, the language that rolls off our tongues, the restrictions of our bodies, the gender we identify with and the people we love. Our choices aren’t just about abortion, they’re also about how we live, how we create family, how we interact with our bodies, with society, and with the world. So I’m going to spend today, instead of thinking about choice, thinking about justice.
Future Feminist Librarian-Activist: I would argue that it is precisely because women — particularly pregnant women — as a class are not really seen as fully human that the idea of trusting them with moral and medical decision-making continues to be such a radical notion. Setting aside for a minute the question of abortion per se, within the past week I have seen multiple stories come across my blog feeds about pregnant women’s right to bodily integrity and ability to consent to medical procedures challenged or violated with the support of the state. There was the story of Samantha Burton whose doctor got a court order to confine her in a hospital bed against her will when she disagreed with him about how best to proceed with her pregnancy care. A woman in Australia was visited by police when she resisted having her labor induced with the controversial drug pitocin. There have been a number of stories concerning the physical restraint of birthing women in prisons, who are often not able to labor in optimal positions because they’re shackled to their beds. As I’ve written previously, women shouldn’t have to give up their basic rights to bodily integrity and medical decision-making when they become pregnant, but the legal and cultural climate in the United States is such these days that many of us fear that’s precisely what will happen.
Women’s Health News: I am pro-choice because I believe in women. I believe there are situations in a woman’s life that I/the government cannot possibly manage for her, and I believe individual women are the ones responsible for making the best choices for themselves and their families. Not me, not a politician solely interested in rallying the faithful, not a pharmacist who refuses to fill a legal prescription, not an insurance plan that won’t cover birth control, not a doctor pushing too many inductions and too many c-sections, not schools and parents who believe that ignorance=bliss and safety, not states who refuse to protect women from the tyranny of the majority, not the football game schedule, and not those who would refuse to present medically accurate information to women on a whole host of issues. Women. The individual woman in the individual situation. I trust her, and leave her to her choice.
Maya from the Feministing Community: First, trusting women means trusting them with information and education. Trust that teaching young women about their sexuality will make them healthier and more empowered. Trust that giving young women accurate information about contraception will make them more responsible, not less. Trust that women–and men–are capable of making their own decisions regarding their sexual and reproductive lives. Trusting women means trusting them to take seriously the responsibility of bringing a new human being into the world. Trust women to decide what’s best for themselves and their families. Trust women to know when they simply can’t be parents yet or again (no matter how “empowered” they are, Sarah Palin ). And trust women to make that decision like adults. Without paternalistic requirements like mandatory waiting periods and coercive “informed consent” laws. Without being forced to see ultrasounds and listen to moralistic lectures. (Yes, even before painting that nursery .) Trust that no one–not a doctor, not the government, not other women–has more invested in the decision than the individual woman making it. Trust that no one understands what abortion means more than the woman getting one.
Feel free to share what you think “Trust Women” means to you in comments. (Or link to other posts that deserve props!)