This morning I couldn’t walk the dog because of the rain and I can already tell that it’s going to put me out of sorts for the rest of the day.
This morning I heard from my one friend in New Orleans. He’s safe in Missouri, but he and his partner are pretty sure they’ll have nothing to go back to. I want to say something about the ways towns along the Mississippi put themselves back together after devastating floods, about the ways in which you’ll still see the lines on the houses and buildings that survived that let you know how high the muddy water went, but you’ll also begin to see new buildings and new houses, but shit like that, though true, sounds pretty trite when it’s your house that’s gone.
This morning I read for the first time Marge Piercy’s “The Grand Coolie Damn” and I’m sitting here with my brain blown wide open. This says so much about why I hate the Democratic party–the “progressive” party–and I’m floored that it was written thirty five years ago. How can this shit still be so true? But it is.
So I feel like I should clarify my rhetorical stand on abortion, even though I’m pretty sure it’s clear to most of you. When it comes to her own body, a woman should have an assortment of tools available to her to keep things working–access to healthy foods, comprehensive health care, a good job, education, self-knowledge, and contraception. But most of all, a woman must have bodily autonomy. Period.
She–not her husband, not her boyfriends, not her girlfriends, not her parents, not her god, not her church, not her government–must be in control of her body and its functions.
And the most significant factor in being able to have a healthy life and a good job and an education and a family is being able to plan pregnancies and to prevent unwanted pregnancies. It’s as simple as that.
I don’t believe abortion should be the first and only tool a woman uses to prevent unwanted pregnancies. I think women should have thorough knowledge of how their bodies work and easy access to birth control. I don’t think one’s use of birth control, no matter one’s age, should be thought of as a moral issue. When you show us the movie about menstruation in sixth grade, show us how to put a condom on a dildo at the same time. Make it matter of fact.
Women who want to go on the Pill should be given the Pill without any lecturing from their doctors about its immorality (which still happens, as I know, because it happened to me). If women want access to Plan B, they should be able to go to their drugstore and get it, no moral questions asked. And, if a woman wants an abortion, even if we find it morally reprehensible, she ought to be able to get it.
And though I firmly believe that, if women had real knowledge of how their bodies worked and easy access to contraception–minus the moral lecturing–the number of abortions would dwindle, I refuse to talk about reducing the number of abortions. I refuse to couch my beliefs as “pro-choice” rather than “pro-abortion” because “pro-choice” seems like the softer, less political, less offensive term. And I refuse to support the Democratic party when the use abortion and their willingness to concede ground on the issue as fast as possible in order to try to win (but obviously continue to lose) elections.
Because all that talk reinforces the bullshit belief that women’s private behavior is up for public judgment and that control of our behavior is an appropriate political negotiating point. And, fuck me, but at least anti-abortion forces are up front about it–they want to tell all women that they must always do the same thing, regardless of their circumstances (carry any and all pregnancies to term).
But to see the Democratic party also just accept that as true–that society has the right to control what women do with their own bodies–and to pander to voters by promising that they can control women in ways pleasing to the anti-abortion people makes me sick.
So, I’m pro-abortion not because I believe every woman should have bunches of abortions, but because I believe that any political movement that promises to control the behavior of women specifically and promises to curtail their medical options is so offensive that the only appropriate response to it is to meet it with something equally offensive to it.