Sunday, November 8, 2009

Women's Rights in the US Today: Morning After Pill.

So the only way health care could be passed in this country now was for Democrats to capitulate to Republicans' and Conservatives' desire to keep women's sex lives under control?

Yeah, yeah, they call it a campaign to save the unborn: It's all about the baby, right?

Democrats are just as complicit in this sell-out of women's privacy and reproductive rights as the rest. Since 1973, the campaign to keep women's rights legal has been one apology for being female after another. We have allowed abortion to be seen as shameful, a secular affront to God and "natural" law, we have allowed women's rights to be framed as moral standards. Our states have eeked in one access-denying law after another like parental notification and late term restrictions.

Now we see personhood legislation come up around the country to declare a zygote a person, with rights and protections that make a woman a baby-producer, only important as a carrier of a potential child, no longer entitled to her own autonomy and sanctity. Because that is the role we have let ourselves be painted into.

We have sanctioned ourselves. We have said we love babies instead of we love ourselves. We have let the church and anti-choice activists frame our bodies into vessels with limited purposes. We have shied away from determining our own governance. We have let ourselves be shamed for being independent.

How do we undo thirty years of apologizing for being women, of shyly asking for our independence, of apologizing for our desires for education, careers, and the ability to decide when we have children? How can medical advances give the ailing new hearts and mend bones and yet, we are left to bashfully ask for permission to manage our period?

If reducing abortion is the objective, we have lost our point. If the baby is the focus, women are still secondary considerations. If women are still afraid to say, "I am a feminist," "I have had an abortion," "I don't want children," or "I think it's none of your business," we are still on a path that will allow the USCCB, male conservatives and their apologizing, dutiful wives, corporations, pharmaceuticals, and any last example of a patriarchal, male-knows-best, structure to tell us our role in society. Self-determination did not go out the window last night. We never fully let it in.

The religious right is not dead. We are losing the right to abortion and bodily autonomy. The prominent women's organizations have bought into compromise of women's rights, along with the president and our Democratic constituents. It might as well be the '70s again.

This realization, driven home to me last night after over a year of hope that we finally had a strong political backing in our government with the new president, is a bitter pill.

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