Thursday, July 27, 2006

Feminist Majority Foundation brings back the 1972 truth campaign

Rachel passed on an e-mail from the Feminist Majority Foundation that we'll post in full:

We have had abortions.
That was the headline of a petition in the 1972 debut issue of Ms. magazine in which 53 well-known U.S. women, including myself, declared that they had undergone abortions -- despite state laws rendering the procedure illegal.
It's time for a new petition for honesty and freedom.
Even then, to many it seemed absurd that the government could deny a woman sovereignty over her own body. It is even more absurd in 2006 that an abortion ban has passed into law in South Dakota, though it has been stayed because an initiative to remove the ban has been placed on the state's November ballot.
At the time of the original Ms. petition, illegal abortions were causing untold suffering and countless deaths of young women in the United States. Today, in the developing nations each year, approximately 70,000 women and girls die from botched and unsafe abortions and another 500,000 maternal deaths occur -- most of this suffering and loss could be prevented. U.S. international family planning policies contribute to this death toll.
Today Ms. has started a new petition and I invite you to join me in a campaign for honesty and freedom.
You can read the full petition here.
We recognize that, still, not every woman will be able to sign today - 33 years after Roe - even though abortion is a very common, necessary and important procedure for millions of women in the U.S. But if a multitude of women step forward publicly - and more and more continue to join them - we would transform the public debate.
Just as in 1972, Ms. will send the signed petitions to the White House, members of Congress and state legislators. We will also post the petition online.
And we ask you to
make a contribution so Ms. can promote the petition and provide needed funds to fight abortion bans and support targeted abortion providers, such as the sole remaining women's clinic in Mississippi.
It is time to speak out again - in even larger numbers - and to make politicians face their neighbors, influential movers and shakers, and yes, their own family members. We cannot, we must not - for U.S. women and the women of the world - lose the right to safe and accessible abortion or access to birth control.
Your name and your voice will make a difference.
In Sisterhood,
Gloria Steinem

Anais Nin and many other women took part in that campaign. It put a face on the issue, took it out of the area of 'hang your head in shame' and 'wanton woman' (or 'libertine') and it's sad that we're back at that point today. (Helped along by so-called friends of choice who reposition themselves to appeal to the mythical crowd that 'decided' an election -- though they didn't but did it stop AP from trotting out the disproven myth as fact last week? No.) So that's where we are now -- reproductive rights under attack in every way (read "Senate Passes Teen Endangerment Act") and a lot of 'brave' leaders repositioning (or triangulating?) themselves to once again sell out our rights.

Kat's back today (as Betty noted in "Travel and other talk") and with the above topic and her return, it's probably a good time to highlight her July 2, 2005 post, "I had an abortion:"

If you read the gina & krista round-robin this morning, you have a pretty good idea of what you can do. I know that they already stressed this but I want to say it here as well, it's not about money. If you're someone with all the dough in the world, donate to every organization they listed. If you're someone that has enough to spare to donate a little, please pick an organization to donate to. But if you don't have any money, that doesn't mean you sit on your ass.
There are petitions to sign, there are talking points to get out, there is the simple fact that you can share with people around you.
I talked about my abortion in the round-robin. Here I'll just say that I've had one and I support the right of any woman to have one. Why I had one is no one's damn business. I appreciate that other members were willing to share if they'd had one. The Common Ills is a great community and Krista and Gina do a great job with their round-robin.
Some of the women they quoted said they'd never really talked about their abortion before. I have. With friends, I will go into details. Though friends and friendly people come here, a lot of assholes do too.
I don't want to work up a sob story or justify what I did. No woman should have to. So I will say loudly that I have had an abortion but it's no one else damn's business.
I support women who share their experiences and C.I. will post anyone's comments if she wants to share her story. More power to any woman who wants to. For me, it's my business. I'm not ashamed of it. But I'm not going to go begging for the pro-life crowd's understanding. Or to prove to moderates that there are "reasons" to support choice.
If, after all this time, someone needs a "reason" then chances are they either live in a very limited world or they already made up their mind against choice.
My story is nothing compared to X (readers of the gina & krista round-robin know who I mean) and that was so brave of her to put it out there like that. If that were my story, I would share it in the privacy of the round-robin and still not note it here. Because where I'm coming from is it's none of your damn business.
I'm not ashamed of it, I'm not embarrassed by it. But I'm not going to put myself in a position of saying, "Like me, understand me, love me."
I made the decision I made and I stand by it. And thank you to the women and men who've read the round-table and have e-mailed to thank me for sharing. No one wrote, "Kat, you need to put this up at your site."
But I will put up at my site that not only do I support the right of pro-choice but I've used that right, I've excercised it.
X is thinking of sharing her story and it's a powerful story. I support her right to consider sharing and, if she does, I applaud her for sharing.
But no woman needs to share anything she doesn't want to.
I do not support parental consent laws because I do not believe that any woman makes the decision to have an abortion without giving it thought. Now maybe if she's strong armed into it by some guy, but if that happens, she hasn't made the choice, she's gone along with someone else's choices.
I have friends who've had an abortion and I'll certainly open up to them in great detail.
But for me it is a private experience and it's not one I'm going to put out there.
I will put out that I had an abortion, I do not regret it and abortion must remain legal.
If you're on the fence about where you stand on this issue, you need to figure out pretty quick because a battle is looming and it's going to be nasty.
We're going to need all the support we can get to keep abortion legal and safe.
Making it illegal will not end abortion.
Abortions are part of our nation's history. In earlier times they were legal and called "quickening." Then they became illegal. But they didn't go away.
They will not go away and the smart thing to do is to make them safe and legal.
A lot of the sharing of the experience has given ground to some middle of the roaders to start the talk of "They're painful and should be used sparingly" or some other bullshit that lets them position themselves as a moderate.
They are a medical right. It is not my business what medical rights you choose to excercise and it's honestly not your business which ones I choose to excercise.
I've never heard anyone dispute a man's right to get his penis augmentated. (For those who are unaware of it and thinking "I can get my dick bigger" -- wider not longer is the result of the procedure.) But when it comes to women's bodies and their medical decisions, everyone thinks they can weigh in.
You can't. A woman has to make the decision herself and she should be able to make the decision and have a safe and legal abortion.
Besides the round-robin, I'd recommend you read the entry C.I. did with
people sharing their reactions to Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement. And if you're think, "Kat, short for Kaitlin, she's Irish! How can she support abortion?" I'd suggest you read Mike's post. He comes from a pro-choice, Irish-Catholic family. I do as well. Mike's mother is right, the media stereotype isn't reality.
And while I reserve the right not to discuss my medical procedure with anyone but friends that I'd share other medical matters with, I am more than fine with going on the record and saying I had an abortion and I don't regret it.
If you've never known a woman who's had an abortion, you do now. It is not something that happens to "other people." Whether you know it or not, there's probably a woman in your circle who's had an abortion.
Any woman who is comfortable declaring "I've had an abortion" to her friends, should do so. If you want to go in details, that's your right. But I think we need to get beyond the idea that the only women who've had abortions are people you've never met. This effects many of us.
Maggie called me up when she read the round-robin this morning and said if I wrote about it here she wanted her feelings known. She's never had an abortion, but she's damn glad that if she ever finds herself in the position where she needs to consider all her options, it's a choice she has, a legal choice.
Because making it illegal won't make it go away. It will only lead to the return of back alley abortions, people making money on the side and women's lives being put at risk.
Safe and legal, the line is drawn and you need to figure out where you stand.

Also check out The Third Estate Sunday Review's "Abortion: Why it matters still" which is especially pertinent considering what passed in the Senate. The e-mail address for this site is