Showing posts with label right to choose. Show all posts
Showing posts with label right to choose. Show all posts

March 1, 2013

WHY “CHOICE” IS NOT ENOUGH! An Overview of Abortion in the US, Historically and Today

[Fire on the Mountain is pleased to post this new article by Mirk. Like the last one of hers we ran, on the 2012 elections, this was originally written for Rødt!, the magazine of the Norwegian political party called Red. 

The forces of sweetness and light have had cause for celebration lately as the homophobic right wing has taken a terrible beating on the legal front and in the opinion polls alike. But with International Women's Day only a week away, we had best not forget the damage they continue to do to women's reproductive freedom. This article lays out just how grim things really are.]

by Judith "Mirk" Mirkinson

When I was 21, I had my first abortion.  It was 1972 and New York was one of the few states that had made it legal.  I went to a lovely clinic and was surrounded by women from all over the East and Midwest of the country.  

By the next year, the Supreme Court had passed the landmark decision Roe v Wade which made abortion legal everywhere. The decision was made on the basis of the right to privacy and due process--covered by the Fourteenth and Ninth Amendments to the Constitution. “Roe” (as it came to be known) was the culmination of centuries of struggle over who would control women’s reproduction in the US.

I was one of the lucky ones. I had grown up with a mother who had talked about abortion and I had marched and fought for abortion myself.  It wasn’t a tragedy, it wasn’t great, it wasn’t the best form of birth control, but there it was. Abortion was essential to my ability to control my own body and decisions--and thus essential to women achieving their full equality.

Control has and will always be the issue when it comes to women’s reproduction. From the beginning of time, women have been constrained through their biology. It is only now that international law (most explicitly through the CEDAW--the Convention to End Discrimination Against Women) is addressing the necessity for guaranteeing reproductive health. But even in countries where women can have access to contraception and health care, regulation of abortion is one way to contain women.

The Case Of The US

The US is a case in point. Control of women in the US has always been intertwined with the issues of race and class. Thus, one can’t talk about the history of abortion and reproductive “rights” without also discussing the intersection of those rights with the history of slavery and racism.

As early as 1632, there were laws governing the reproductive rights of Black women. (UH – THERE WAS SLAVERY!) Enslaved women were considered breeders--a resource to increase the slave population and they had no maternal rights. African women were property and thus their children were also considered property. As a result a child could be taken away at any time. A slave owner could even determine where a woman’s future children would go. For instance one could "leave" a particular woman to one descendant in one’s will, but leave her future children to another! The threat and reality

Read more!