We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war. Raise hell. Think of something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous.
These words are from Molly Ivins, quoted today at RH Reality Check from Ivins’s last column before she passed away. They can easily be applied to the current contraception conflicts.
Hmm… something to make the ridiculous look ridiculous. There’s this week’s Doonesbury cartoon strip, thank you, Gary Trudeau. There’s a bill pending in the Ohio state legislature requiring men to have sex counseling before they can have a prescription for Viagra. And more, I’m sure.
The lampooning is great. It’s good to laugh, and it helps people to see more clearly. However, the painful consequences of repressive politics are taking their toll among women and families across the country. The latest is in Texas where 130,000 women are losing their reproductive health services at the hands of the state government. So much for less government intrusion in our lives!
I’m not in Texas. I’m in Oregon. I was in California last week. I’ll be in Washington State in a few days. I’m on a book tour for Life Choices. It’s going well. The talks at the bookstores have been attended well. I’ll be at In Other Words in Portland tomorrow at 5 p.m. The whole tour schedule is here.
This morning I had breakfast with Shelly, the director of Backline. This indispensable pregnancy options hotline provides non-judgmental counseling at 1-888-493-0092. Shelly and I had a meaningful exchange about the root causes of crisis pregnancies and the terrible bind many women are in with regard to having safe support from society for their reproductive choices whether these are pregnancy, parenting, abortion, or adoption. The stress on the vital volunteers at Backline is more difficult in the current political climate.
The same is true for the dedicated volunteers at Exhale, a post-abortion hotline at 1-866-439-4253. While in the Bay Area last week, I met over lunch with Exhale’s founder and director, Aspen Baker, who started the organization ten years ago with the unique mission to build a pro-voice community to change the culture so that it is more supportive and respectful of the experience of abortion.
On March 3 in Oakland, I attended a training sponsored by The Abortion Conversation Project, an inspiring group I urge you to know about and support. ACP is in the midst of an in depth re-envisioning process. See their mission and vision here.
In Ashland, I enjoyed not one, but three gatherings, the first of which was the monthly meeting of the local chapter of the American Association of University Women, and participated in a good exchange about social policy issues including reproductive choice. Lots of good people in that town.
What sort of conversation do we want to have about women’s health issues? Certainly not the one that isolates and stigmatizes the abortion choice or one that demeans and demoralizes women for choosing to be parents when they are poor—double pressures that reflect the judgments and fears that prevail in certain sectors of society. Damned if we do and damned if we don’t. This is the way a patriarchal, class society maintains power over people. Not everyone sees it this way of course, which just shows how important it is to have open discussion if we are to achieve our goals.
In Life Choices I talk about how legal abortion and the rise of women’s reproductive freedom is one of the main vehicles that will help society evolve into one of equality, peace, and freedom where all beings are recognized as valuable and humanity takes responsibility for all life. This is the way I understand the presence of sharp antagonism and resistance (including the ridiculousness) to providing for the needs of the world’s women and supporting women to become empowered personally, economically, and politically. Patriarchy and class society will have to go the way of the dinosaurs if we are to recognize the value of each and every being, learn to care for all beings and for the earth, and live in peace and freedom. Exactly what that will look like is unknown at this time. It’s up to us to bring our creative vision to it and imagine it into being. Perhaps the ridiculousness of some of the current anti-woman politics and especially the dangers they pose will wake more of us up to the importance of heeding the call to action.