Last week, as Texas representatives were voting to pass bills in the state legislature, Sen. Wendy Davis famously gave a speech for 11 hours. Her filibuster ensured that a bill enacting strong anti-abortion laws was not passed. The media and my personal news feeds were filled with applause for Davis and democracy and the justice Texas women saw that day.
Just yesterday, in Ohio, the same type of abortion restrictions were passed into law by our governor, John Kasich. I expected to find out sooner due to griping on facebook, but I didn’t hear anything until this afternoon. People have been much more silent, but little by little, things are popping up. All negative feedback, of course, with appallingly biased media sources.
What I want to point out to you are some of the phrases people have been using the past few days.
1. They are calling abortion “preventative health care.”
2. They are calling people who oppose abortion “women’s health advocates.”
3. They are calling this bill an “attack on reproductive rights.”
4. They are calling abortion restrictions “anti-women’s health provisions.”
That’s just to name a few. As a woman, I am… offended? Enraged?
Also, every article I have read about the bill that was passed over the weekend is careful to point out the quantity of men that were present as the governor signed. ???? Isn’t the ratio of men to women in state government relatively the same across the board? I agree that there should be more women in government, but why does that have a direct influence in this case? It doesn’t. And how many women were in the room? I don’t know. Nobody’s mentioned that.
That’s just an aside. Anyway, what I want to say is, WHERE ARE THE OTHER WOMEN? I know that you’re out there. A recent (2013) study reported that 57% of women in the US are pro-life, and that only 40% are pro-choice, which “is supposed to be the official stance of [our] entire gender.”
Based on what I’ve seen this week, I’m not surprised at the misunderstanding. People – “women’s rights” and “women’s health” activists – protesting in my hometown as the bill was signed into law chanted, “Shame on you!” They showed up to make their plea. But I have seen more people this week defend Paula Deen than defend the new anti-abortion legistlation. THAT, I feel, is something to be ashamed of.
I am a women’s rights activist. I consider myself a feminist, in that I believe in women’s equality and equal representation (and it’s annoying that I even have to qualify my stance as a feminist with that obvious definition). But I can’t stand being misrepresented. I’m not going to be labeled as someone who slings abortions in with “women’s health care.” I’m not going to group my “reproductive right” to have an abortion with my human right to equality. I’m not going to use my position as a weaker person in this society to insist that my voice be heard, and then use that attention to exert what power I have over people even weaker than me, the unborn. I will not silently let all assume that I am part of the group that thinks abortion is okay.
Women have power now. We’ve proved that. But I think a lot of that power comes out of this assumption that all women – or all true women – feel the same about issues like this. Maybe that’s why the women in my camp have been silent. We don’t want to look like we aren’t as powerful, like we aren’t part of the larger group of women which, combined all together, has a voice in this world. We want to be part of that voice. We want to have power.
I understand the fear of looking like you’re propagating your view and shoving it down people’s throats. We want to be loving and understanding toward other women. But this is important. This is the genocide of a generation, half of which are the girls who will advance women’s equality by leaps and bounds in the future. If they are allowed to live. I’m not sure if it’s okay to stay silent when we support those who can’t do anything in their own defense. I’m not sure if it’s okay to stay silent when we are being misrepresented by our own gender. I’m not sure it’s okay to be silent when it’s assumed that only men oppose abortion, and are making our decisions for us. I’m not sure if it’s okay to stay silent with what we are up against.
I’m not advocating protest as much as I’m advocating support of people and organizations who are doing things to stop abortions and care for women in pregnancy crisis situations. And I am encouraging you to use your voice so that we – more than half of the women in the United States – are not misrepresented anymore by the activists that claim our gender as their platform.
I know that many of you reading this are not convinced, like I clearly am, that abortion is the killing of a child. You may think that life begins at a different point of human development, or something or another.This article isn’t for you, and is not meant to convince you (but I will point you to this article if you’re on the fence or just interested). Please be respectful if you decide to comment.
*I want to include a friend’s response to my post on facebook, because she talks about the legislation in a broader sense than I reviewed, and because my response to her comment further explains what I’m talking about.
Jenny: Unfortunately these bills ostracize Planned Parenthood, which helps to prevent and educate so that abortions do not need to be performed. It is also unfortunate, because a lot of the politicians (men specifically) who support and pass these bills not only oppose abortion, but they oppose supporting children born to poor/under educated households…often times the same people who are having children from unprotected sex and are not educated about protection and prevention (which in turn is where Planned Parenthood comes in). Hope that makes sense. That being said…it’s not about killing babies. I mean, lets be real here, who isn’t ‘pro-life’?! And that doesn’t even open up the can of worms in regard to instances of rape. I don’t mean to incite argument, and I respect your opinion. I think that people are labeling this legislation as directly correlating to abortion, when really that is only a small facet of the larger picture. Especially when the portion of the bill that relates to abortion is snuck in at the last minute before the bill is to be voted upon.
Me: Thanks for pointing that out! I admit that I’m not the most educated person when it comes to bills and legislation (despite AP Government… that was awful), and even all the particular things that this bill encompassed. A couple people have pointed out that it isn’t all about abortion, and I appreciate you doing that! I do, however, know that there are a lot of clinics like Planned Parenthood out there that don’t offer abortions – even secular ones. It’s hard for me to decide where I stand on something like a bill, when the abortion parts are lumped in with other things.
I think that’s my biggest problem with the whole thing – when abortion is lumped in with women’s rights and women’s health. Because I am pro women’s rights and women’s health! But I don’t think abortion should be an option. And I guess I feel alone?