It’s been a crazy ride for the Pro-Choice movement over the last few months. There have really been two different battles going parallel to each other when it all really comes down to the same question: Can we trust women to make the right choice for their own bodies? While we’re at it, can we get more women involved in the discussion?
That Pesky Little Pill
The end of 2011 saw an incredible battle to see birth control as a preventive service – which makes it completely free under the Affordable Care Act. While the religious right makes grand statements about “they” don’t want it, use it, and certainly don’t want to include it in insurance offerings to employees at religious organizations and universities, the bottom line is more than 99% of women between the ages of 14-44 who are sexually active use some form of contraception! While religious leaders may not like it, their followers are more than likely using it.
Why is this important?
The Obama administration announced Friday that most church affiliated organizations will be required to offer employees coverage of birth control in insurance plans. They will be granted additional time to comply with the requirements. I cannot imagine the relief of some employees who have gone years without this kind of option, to know it will happen. That is as long as their employers are not part of those trying to continue lawsuits and fight the regulations, which will only draw out the deadline for compliance.
For those fighting this here is why: According to the Washington Post, “From the beginning, the rule exempted employers such as churches whose primary purpose is to inculcate religious beliefs and that mainly employ and serve individuals who share those beliefs.” I can only assume their beliefs take one of two forms: they believe everyone they employ and worship with truly holds those same values and abstains from use of contraception; or they believe they have every right to insist on such behavior in the most personal of spaces from their employees and congregants. The average woman in America wants two children, which means an average of THIRTY years using contraceptives.
Those people I felt such relief for – it won’t come just yet. The battle will continue through this year. And while the pill have been a brief part of the Republican primaries, it is very likely it will become a larger piece of the choice battle in the general election.
Something to be Ashamed Of?
At a recent event with Merle Hoffman I heard her say, “if the personal is the political, then abortion is the ultimate political issue.” How true that is, especially for the past year!
If I tell you one out of three women have an abortion there are two ways you can take it: 1. That is a lot of dead babies (actual response to a Fem2.0 tweet) or 2. That is a lot of women in need. Political battles at the state and federal level and talk in the Presidential race has been centered around the repeal of Roe V. Wade (except amendments to the constitution can just be wiped away by a president), or limiting access to abortions. What the statistic above really tells us, is that women have the need for abortions, and it’s more people – male and female, who have been through this process, either themselves or with a loved one that anyone ever thinks.
Whether a woman’s reason is health or economic related, because she was raped, or a million other reasons does not discount her need to do it. Pregnancy is incredibly personal and intimate, and an unwanted pregnancy can feel like a violation of a woman’s body, as K. Salis so eloquently put it last week on Fem2.0.
While the legality, how, when, where will all continue to be debated by men this year in great detail and at great length, it is important to remember this society has made abortion something to be ashamed of and something to hide. Abortion is legal, and we need to stop treating it as though it were not. Whether legal or not, women will seek it out, and we all need to ensure it remains a safe and legal procedure!
The anti-choice groups are amazing at putting us always on the defensive. It’s time to turn this around. 2012 should be our chance to be proactive and speak out. Let’s stop hiding sex, contraception and abortion and put it out on the table to discussion and education.
This post is part of the Blog for Choice Blog Carnival hosted by NARAL Pro-Choice America in commemoration of the 39th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.