As a young woman, one of the few major triumphs socially and politically for women was when in 1965 the Supreme Court ruled birth control legal — for married couples and later for everyone — and then, in 1973, came Roe v. Wade. Until those two decisions, women weren’t full and free citizens. A man could make a baby and walk away. A woman could not.
I and most other women believed we won that battle. We had won the right to decide what was right for our bodies. To be equals to the men in our world. Never did any of us imagine that as senior citizens, we’d find ourselves fighting the battle again.
I believe we will win this again, as we did before. I do not believe the courts will undo a couple of generations of law to make some old white men feel more powerful … but it’s a strange world into which we have roamed. I suppose anything is possible.
And now, from Jan Wilberg: WHAT’S AT STAKE.
noun: the action of bringing someone or something under domination or control
The guys in Washington can puff themselves up and talk all they want about their belief that life begins at conception, that the ‘unborn’ have rights that take priority over a living, breathing, born woman, that overturning Roe v. Wade would right a 45-year old wrong and set this country on a path of morality and righteousness. They lie.
All of this fervor to pack the Supreme Court with a solid anti-choice majority is about one single thing: subjugation.
The linchpin of gender equality is control over one’s own person. My husband controls his body. I control mine. Taken more broadly, men control their bodies. Women control theirs. That’s what we have now, more or less, although creeping restrictions on birth control benefits and access to abortion services erode this notion.
However, if one gender controls their person but the other cannot, then the two genders are not equal. In the event of an overturned Roe v. Wade, the genders would again become quite unequal with men having full agency over themselves while women’s agency is limited, proscribed, and subject to government intervention.
Taken a step further, if a pregnancy results from the actions of a man and a woman, it will be only the woman’s body subject to external review. The guy can pretend it never happened.
I know how this works. I lived through it.
I became pregnant before Roe v. Wade. I’ll die before I get the image of being completely trapped out of my head, a young, witless woman with no money, no options, boxed in by secrecy and shame, fraught with fear, fear of being found out, fear of doing something illegal, fear of getting hurt or worse. Just utterly trapped.
Meanwhile, my boyfriend was unmarked, he had not a single stain, he was unscathed. A not unkind person, he was, just by virtue of his gender, filled with options, not the least of which was driving away. How is this fair? I thought at the time, that I should be so stricken by this situation and he can be so free?
Because, dear one, you and your boyfriend are not equal. He controls his body. You do not.
How do I say this to women in the plainest possible way? If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the government will control what is happening inside your body.
Years ago, I did abortion clinic defense with a friend of mine who was a devout Catholic. I would pick her up early in the morning and we’d drive to whatever clinic was being targeted that day by the anti-abortion protesters being bused in from other states. Once there, we would link arms with hundreds of other people, women in suits on their way to their office jobs, college students with Rasta hair, men wearing feminist t-shirts, and the protesters would yell at us, really yell at us, inches from our faces.
“Would you ever have an abortion?” I asked my friend one morning, the sun just barely up and the grass wet beneath our feet.
“Never in a million years,” she answered.
We pulled our linked arms closer so there was no space between us, each of us clenching our hands together into tight, strong fists. What we stood for was clear – our right to be in control of our own bodies, our own lives, our own beliefs, no one telling another what she should do. Freedom.
LEGALIZING THE RIGHT TO A GOOD LIFE is my own take on the matter and you are welcome to peruse it at your leisure.
via What’s At Stake