Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Contraceptive War, or, What Year is It Again?

A friend sent me a link to this post from the Feronia Project and suggested that I blog about it. I've been wanting to say something about the ridiculous spectacle that's been made of of women's rights and reproductive health over the past week or so, but I haven't really been able to wrap my mind around it. Plus, many other writers have done a great job of summing up much of the insanity. In case you've missed it, here's a (probably incomplete) round-up:

  1. Kelly over at How I Learned to Wear a Dress talks about watching the Issa panel on "religious freedom" over whether or not religiously affiliated companies should be required to offer birth control coverage to their employees. This panel discussing contraception coverage had no women. You can also see some responses to the panel at the Twitter hashtag #Issacircus
  2. Rick Santorum, who actually has a shot at the Republican nomination, has said that women might not belong on the front lines of combat because of their "emotions involved," suggested that women who are fulfilled in work outside of the home have been brainwashed by radical feminists, and denounced all prenatal testing as a horrific effort to cull people with disabilities through abortion.
  3. A proposed law in Virginia would require transvaginal ultrasounds against women's will in order to obtain an abortion. As Feministe explains, that's rape.
  4. Personhood amendments, like the one in Oklahoma, are placing unequal focus on women's responsibility in reproduction and forcing them to deal with obstacles to their reproductive health and freedom without adding obstacle's to men's. Amendments like the "spilled semen" one point out this inequality.
So, back to the Feronia Project post. In it, we're reminded that women's freedoms are not that old. In fact, they're a pretty recent phenomenon:
They say we can look to the past to predict the future. If this is the case, I assert that women’s “stronghold” in exercising their power and autonomy is only a blip in our timeline that can be easily wiped away by legislation riddled with “traditional” values. The FDA only approved the first birth control pill in 1957, around the time my grandmother was getting married. There are women around us who remember what it was like before we had the reproductive freedoms we do now.
I want to say that that's fear mongering and alarmist. I want to say that it's ridiculous to think that we could backslide so drastically on an issue that directly affects half of the population and indirectly affects every single one of us.  But I can't say those things. 

The past week has shown me too many people in power who are batting around basic freedoms like a cat with a mouse. 

As the Feronia Project post posits:
If I’m left without contraception, how can I plan my pregnancies? If I can’t plan my pregnancies, how can I plan my life? If I can’t plan my life, how can I own my life? If I don’t own my life, who does? Riddle me that one, Newt, Rick, Mitt.
My own views on abortion are complicated and certainly don't fit into a neat label of pro-choice or pro-life. My own life actually falls into some pretty traditional roles. I am married. I was married when I got pregnant, by choice. Sure, I work outside the home and pursue educational goals, but does that make me so radical as to be outside of the constructed reality that we're operating within when we have these conversations? 

Control over my reproductive health is an imperative part of my life. It was an imperative part of my life before having a child, and it is an imperative part of my life now that I have one. I am a better mother and wife because of my ability to plan my life. How someone could work so hard to derail that simple and life-changing reality is beyond me. Truly. Beyond me. 

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jane,

    Eleanor from The Feronia Project here. Thanks for sharing our post! We, too, are obviously so dismayed at what's happening in the congressional world today. Hopefully, it will get better, but we as women have to stand up and fight for our rights...or they just might get taken away.