Friday, January 22, 2010

Free Abortion On Demand

It's Blog for Choice Day. And this year, a year many of us thought might actually be a good one for sexual and reproductive rights, has turned out to be a very lousy one indeed. We saw Democrats force the Stupak amendment into an otherwise fairly decent House health care reform bill, and do nearly the same thing in the Senate onto an already-pretty-crappy health care reform bill.

We saw the murder of Dr. George Tiller, abortion provider, in cold blood.

We like to talk about choice. We fight over terminology. But what have we really done, in the years since Roe v. Wade, other than hold the line and nervously try not to lose what we've won?

We criticize Democrats for not supporting us, we who put them in office. But what are we pushing for? When my Democrat Congresswoman from my quite Democratic district (BROOKLYN, people) sends me a form letter in response to my calls and emails about Stupak, reassuring ME that there won't be any federal money spent on abortion, what does that mean for us? Even the Democrats are more worried about antichoice arguments than they are about people like me bailing on them. Where are we going to go, after all, right?

Well, I'm tired of it. It's 2010. We need to be fighting for more gains, not hiding in a defensive crouch and praying we get to hold on to what we've got. Rights are not granted, they are taken.

Right after Stupak, I wrote:

Not enough. I want positives. I want to use this moment to affirm our right to a healthy, joyful sexuality and to talk about how we can achieve that. A messy, unruly sexuality—hell, part of the beauty of it is that it’s not clean and neat. It is like eating a peach, in the last lines of Prufrock, juices running down your chin, sweet and tangy. Those decisions that happen in a minute are sometimes wrong, and sometimes unplanned things come out of them, but we don’t need to be saved from it, we need to have resources and support to deal with it, from a relationship gone sour to unfortunate STIs or Plan B for a birth control failure—or, whether Congress likes it or not, safe, legal, insurance-covered abortion.

I want to come out of the closet and say yes, we like sex, and we have the right to have it. To say that if the government spends millions of dollars every year on technologies that are only good for killing people, it can include abortion in a health care plan.

We didn't get to the point of Roe v. Wade by having nice polite arguments. We got there by being angry, and demanding, and pushing. We got there by staking out a firm position: that our bodies are our own and we have the right to do what we want with them. We got there by calling for free abortion on demand.

So this year I don't want to hear any sugarcoating. I don't want any dancing around the words. Abortion. Sex. Pregnancy. There it is. "Choice" means a lot of things, it's true. But this year we should all remember at bottom what it is we fought for.