Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Blog For Choice Post 2013

Today marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court decision that ruled that state laws outlawing a woman's right to an abortion were unconstitutional. While the past four decades have seen the ruling under attack on cultural, religious, and political grounds, the ruling remains the law of the land even as access to the procedure becomes even more of a target than ever. In honor of this day participants have been asked to tell why they are pro choice.

The basic reason is that I believe that any decision regarding a pregnancy is up to the woman and her doctor. There are a number of reasons which can impact whether a woman feels ready to have a child or not. Whether it's for a medical reason (a sudden illness, the possibility the pregnancy can kill the woman carrying the fetus) or someone surviving an abusive situation or rape or whether one isn't ready financially or emotionally to have a family, the reasons can be as varied as the individual.

Because of this, expecting a one size fits all approach towards whether a woman should carry a child to term is myopic at best and dangerous at worst. Whether its telling a rape victim that her pregnancy is a gift from God or attacking a woman's reasoning in making her decision, there are many variables that factor into whether a woman wants to and can afford to bring a child into this world. To automatically assume that all will be good if she doesn't get an abortion is shortsighted at best and often reeks of an arrogance that doesn't take the other person's situation into account.

I also support a woman's right to reproductive freedom and reproductive justice because of the issue of when life begins. Many people who consider themselves "pro life" have recently moved from claiming that life begins at conception to claiming that a frozen embryo is an actual person. While it is true that a fetus is DNA, the anti choice movement claims that both a fetus and a frozen embryo is a complete human being. People forget that Roe was actually a compromise ruling of sorts that applied before the point of viability rather than actually legalizing abortion on demand. Add to this the current attempts to claim contraception is the same as abortion that the pro forced childbirth contingent is currently pushing to confuse the issue and its apparent that its less about concern for either when life begins or quality of life but as a matter to control women's lives.

Finally I want to bring up an issue that people in the anti choice movement have been trying to frame as common lately. About a year or so ago I was on my way to try and catch the end of a rally to support Planned Parenthood. As I was trying to find a good time to cross the street and get a sign, I saw that one of the anti choice protesters picketing in front of the clinic was holding a sign that said "Women Regret Abortion" on it. Almost immediately (and ever since) when the pro forced childbirth crowd tries to spin the abortion leads to regret angle the following song quote pops in my head...

      "You're taking one thing that one girl does/And you're making it represent all of us." - "Do You Like Me Like That" by Bratmobile off their 2000 album Ladies, Women and Girls.

Those two lines that I couldn't get out of my head that hot Saturday afternoon perfectly nails this use of this angle for people claiming to be "pro life" to the wall. While some women may have some regret over their decision, trying to spin it as every woman who has an abortion will be racked with regret paints women as one mass group who all think and act alike rather than individuals. By ignoring this simple fact, the anti choice movement talks down to women and overlooks the mix of education, experience, and circumstances that informs each person's life overall. The refusal to realize that is one of the main facets of the anti choice/pro forced childbirth movement that I find distasteful.

I realize that the decision on whether to carry a pregnancy to term isn't a simple decision. However, it is because of what's involved in making the decision that I feel it's best to respect a woman's decision whether it's to give birth or get an abortion. Each person has their own reasons and understanding about what they're going through and it is important that a personal decision such as be between a woman and her doctor. If she chooses to let other people know about her choice, that's her right but if she doesn't there's probably a damn good reason for it. In a situation like this respecting said decision is the most prudent thing to do if one wishes to see women as people with agency over their own bodies and their own decisions.

While I feel this barely touches the surface, these are amongst the main reasons why I consider myself pro choice on this issue.

P.S.:  I realize not everyone will agree with me on this issue.  However, if any comments gets especially hateful, abusive, or ignorant I reserve the right to moderate and even delete if necessary.  Consider this a warning in advance.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Pussy Riot Update - January 2013

On January 16, Masha Alekhina of the Russian performance art collective Pussy Riot will get a hearing in the prison where she's being held over whether to postpone her prison sentence on the grounds of her being a single mother of a small child. If ruled in her favor her sentence will be postponed until her son turns 14.  While this is only a temporary especially solution (especially since Pussy Riot should've never faced charges of hooliganism to begin with over their infamous church performance),  it would allow Masha to be reunited with her child.

It's hard to say what will happen in the hours ahead.  While I want to be hopeful, the current situation in Russia seems more about punishing Putin's perceived allies regardless of the costs in the international picture.  In a trail where the three members of Pussy Riot weren't allowed to truly defend themselves and focused more on hurt feelings of religious believers rather than on actual issues (or the fact that similar acts i the past were punished with a fine), Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church took a situation that would've been a footnote and made the three women political pirosners and martyrs in the process.  In a state that was allegedly secular, this shift in power towards a potential theocracy is troubling indeed.

Between tomorrow's hearing and the hearing over allowing Yekaterina Samutsevich (who was released conditionally) to be included as an interested party over the ruling that Pussy Riot's videos are extremist (a decision made after the verdict was already in) on the 24th of this month, one wonders what turn the saga of Pussy Riot will take next. Whatever happens we have to keep the pressure on to make sure the imprisoned members of Pussy Riot are released unconditionally and that Katerina gets an unconditional release as well. 

Only time will tell but it will not go away quietly.