Posts tagged ‘abortion’

October 1, 2012

the anti-reproductive rights movement is rape culture

trigger warning for content related to rape and someone else’s use of an ableist slur so please proceed accordingly.

so the local Planned Parenthood is under siege from the “40 Days of Life” knaves, a coordinated strike against the reproductive rights of people with uteri*.  they’re pretty good at shouting at any female-presenting person who won’t listen to them, and one of them called me a “baby-killing slut” the other morning when i was trying to walk from the bus stop to the post office, a walk that takes me past the Planned Parenthood and thus the 40 Days bunch in front of it. the 40 Days people tend to bus in outsiders for their protests locally, which means that they’re bringing in some of the most rabidly hateful types from places afar since they can’t get enough protesters around here. please note that the 40 Days group claims these are “vigils” but i’m not sure what kind of “vigil” involves screaming at people. also, we won’t bother with the irony of screaming at me, since i don’t have a uterus, i haven’t killed any babies and i’m not sure how any man knew that i was a slut since that’d be a man telling a tale about a land he’s never been to.

there’s just no logical response to that sort of thing, though.  replying with an obscene gesture only gives them more fuel and sometimes causes them to pursue you. i was attempting to go mail a package of pancake mix and coffee to my aunt, so i wasn’t even going into Planned Parenthood. regrettably, the local PP chapter is deeply transmisogynist and has been problematic in dealing with trans  men, but at the same time i support the ends of Planned Parenthood even if they don’t have my back because some things are critical, and access to safe, legal, shame-free, and affordable abortion is absolutely critical. in many places in the United States, Planned Parenthood is all there is when it comes to abortion access, though much of the critical work of funding abortion comes from the National Network of Abortion Funds because surprisingly little insurance, public or private, includes coverage for abortion.

it’s time to stop treating people who police the bodies of others as a “complex moral issue” and start calling the anti-reproductive rights movement what it is: rape culture. when we permit the debate to be framed in smarmy falsehoods like “pro-life”, we’re permitting rape culture to frame the debate. it’s time to start fighting back, and it’s time to quit equivocating when dealing with the “abortion is murder” types…they’re not doing anything “for the children”, they’re acting as shameless and knowing agents of rape culture. there is nothing “pro-life” about forced birth. there’s nothing “pro-life” about how much American society fails children who aren’t born into privilege. there’s nothing “pro-life” about how American society treats single mothers, and there’s nothing “pro-life” whatsoever about what happens when abortion becomes restricted or illegal, as that quite literally kills. banning, or significantly restricting, abortion is violence against people with uteri. 

think about it: people who engage in ridicule of everyone who they assume to be a woman who won’t pay attention to them. they tell people with uteri what they can do with their bodies. they attempt to impose legal regulations on those bodies. they use deception in order to psychologically abuse the minds in those bodies. they complain that they’re being unfairly characterized for their actions despite the dire consequences of their actions. their actions and statements clearly indicate that they believe that a person “deserves” the situation they’re in. they say things like “legitimate rape” and “common-sense abortion restrictions” and don’t fool yourself, those phrases have the same intent: judgment, dominion, and control over bodies…what the 40 Days for Life people are doing is the same thing rapists do.

it’s a pretty simple concept: what someone else does with their body, to their body, is none of your business. when you have consent to do something, you may. when you do not have consent, you do not. trying to soften the corners of this logic with the varied “excuses” rapists use or with the idea that there is properly some social interest in the uterus of someone who isn’t you is merely making an excuse. the “don’t you know better” line, by the way, is the worst thing ever. given how shamefully bad sex ed is in the United States, it’s significantly possible that many people don’t know how to prevent pregnancy. i know what i was taught in middle school in a fairly liberal state’s public school system and what shamefully poor answers were given to the other girls who asked questions, who came from homes where they couldn’t ask about contraception…but this is a moot point anyways, because the myth that women use abortion as contraception has been roundly shattered and “don’t you know better” is just shaming and blaming, two more critical elements of, you guessed it, rape culture.

grounding the rationale for expressing the interest in control of someone else’s body is indeed a central part of rape culture. making excuses for doing so is what is frequently offered as a “defense” against rape…making up irrational reasons to designate some abortions “permissible” and not others is just as bad. it’s like saying that grey rabbits are alright, but white rabbits must be eliminated, and as a rape survivor i know damn well that sometimes society buys the irrational “reasons” of your attacker and i know that sometimes they don’t. why was i “asking for it” because i wore a short skirt? why should you have to prove that a pregnancy stems from “rape or incest” to have an abortion? why was i told by a cop that ‘retarded girls don’t say no’? why is involuntary abortion defended under law when in Utah, you have to wait 72 hours longer to get an abortion than to purchase a handgun? why are we still treating this as a “debate” when it’s about basic human dignity and the ability to make a choice about what you do with your body? the fact that you have a uterus doesn’t make you less worthy of dignity than anyone else or less able to decide what you do with it.

something i said early on about being trans applies here: my body, my life, my rules. i don’t have a uterus, and thus never have to make the choice whether or not to have an abortion. if you do, nobody other than you gets to tell you what to do with it.

two more things and an explanation of the pesky asterisk above:

one: i get a lot of inbound search traffic, so: if you’re pregnant, or you think you’re pregnant and you want an abortion or need unbiased information about abortion and you’re in the US or Canada, call the National Abortion Federation on 1-800-772-9100 or find them online at in the UK, contact bpas on 08457 30 40 30 or at please note that bpas provides abortion to people seeking it from any country, including Ireland. if you have information for safe access in other countries, send it along to inchoaterica at gmail (dot) com and i’ll post it.

two: if you’re concerned for what you can do about dealing with the 40 Days for Life posse ignoramus, which generally only targets Planned Parenthood and not other abortion providers (and often targets PP locations that don’t perform abortions) contact your local Planned Parenthood chapter to find out about volunteering as a clinic escort. i’m a clinic escort here and as a woman who gets medical care from Planned Parenthood (admittedly 900 miles away) i know how terrifying it can be to deal with 3 protesters when you’re going to the doctor. i don’t personally know what it’s like to have 20 of them in your face when you need an abortion, but i’ve witnessed it from the clinic escort perspective and you know what? it’s the only time i’ve ever been spat on by someone who wasn’t raping me. i’m sure this is a coincidence. seriously, regardless of the politics of your local PP, please consider being a volunteer escort, as the need is never larger than it is during 40 Days, which just started.

* – not everyone with a uterus is a woman, though generally people who have uteruses are women…but this isn’t always the case. this matters because trans men often end up shamed even worse than cis women often are in situations where reproductive health access is necessary, not just around abortion. thus, “people with uteruses” when that’s who it affects, because that is who it affects…this doesn’t take away from the fact that this is generally a war on women’s bodies and a condition of political, social, and societal misogyny, but it is possible to recognize this and not degender trans guys at the same time.  don’t doubt for a second that a war on reproductive rights is a war on everyone with a uterus, and the fact that it’s a “war on women” is because those of us who are women are presumed to have uteri. and yes, the plural of “uterus” is “uteri”.