Sunday, January 29, 2012

Roe v Wade - 39th Anniversary

Put me in charge of Medicaid. The first thing I'd do is to get women Norplant birth control implants or tubal legations.

-right wing email forward, allegedly from an editorial in a Waco, TX newspaper

A friend of mine forwarded a right-wing screed today containing a bunch of punishments for people receiving state poverty assistance. There are several other ideas on how we can further punish the poor, but this one stuck out today. I'm glad I have friends with differing opinions. It's good for us all, I think.

It's the 39th anniversary of Roe v Wade today. My wife works at Planned Parenthood, so we're pretty well versed in the subject of reproductive health, and the surrounding controversy. There is an assumption on the part of many that all Roe v Wade did was legalize abortion.

I am reminded today that the case actually opened doors for women all over the spectrum. In some instances, women were forced into abortions without their consent. In many states, birth control was not available. Back-alley abortions were common, and often deadly.

The main issue in the case was the entitlement of privacy. These decisions are to be made by the woman involved, in consultation with her doctor. Her reproductive health is hers and hers alone to manage. This extends to abortion, contraception, tubal ligation, and every other reproductive right under the sun.

This author from Waco, and my friend, in tacit agreement, are arguing for either forced sterilization, or the administration of a drug (norplant) that was discontinued in 2002 due to terrible side effects.

So, to sum it up: if you lose your job, and need government assistance, please step into this line to receive your sterilization, or step into this line to receive your irregular menstrual bleeding, headaches, nausea and depression.

On this 39th anniversary of Roe v Wade, I'm happy to live in a country where this pipe-dream of forced sterilization and/or intrusion into the bodies of half of our working poor is in fact just a dream.

The irony is, my friend votes for politicians who would deny cheap contraception to women. This is where Planned Parenthood comes in. Planned Parenthood's main business is not in fact abortion, but pregnancy prevention. My wife works every day to provide safe, low-cost options to women looking to pro-actively manage their reproductive health. Her office in Eau Claire doesn't even perform abortions. And yet Planned Parenthood is under attack from Republicans across the country, at local, state, and federal levels.

On the one hand, they demand that women control their bodies. On the other, they deny them the ability to do so responsibly.

I can't use a word to define this type of thinking - the words themselves are degraded. Hypocrisy doesn't cover it - too easy. Irony doesn't hit it - it's not a Woody Allen film. Sad doesn't really begin to describe how I feel - I mean, Jesus, does my friend believe this stuff? I'm not exactly sure words really get to the immediate reaction I had.

But as I think about this, it's not all bad. In fact, this reaction is in part due to the successes women have seen in their fight. After millenia of struggle, women continue to break out into the world and take on roles that were all too often unreasonably limited to men. I'm happy to think that my eventual daughters will grow up in a world better than the one their grandmothers braved. It's a reminder that the fight continues.

Yes, there will be reactionaries, like my friend. But we'll be there too, hand in hand to stand up for the rights of all citizens. I look forward to all of these struggles with you, my new friends in Wisconsin. There is no sweeter victory than a victory on behalf of the people. And I mean all the people, not just the privileged, the affluent, or the powerful. Wisconsin will be safe if we stick together. Wisconsin will be OURS!