Democrats have been playing defense on abortion rights for years. They embraced what felt to them like a reasonable compromise with “safe, legal and rare,” but that formulation ignores the reality of women’s need to access abortion care. Contributing to a framework that implies the only “correct” response to an abortion is regret and emotional turmoil reinforces abortion stigma and feeds the cycle that prevents us from having an open and honest discussion. As Katha Pollitt adeptly argues in Pro: Reclaiming Abortion Rights, we should embrace abortion as a critical medical procedure that empowers women and contributes to our social and economic equality.
After another year of reproductive rights’ getting hammered in the state, our pro-choice president had only this to say in his State of the Union last week:
We still may not agree on a woman’s right to choose, but surely we can agree it’s a good thing that teen pregnancies and abortions are nearing all-time lows, and that every woman should have access to the health care she needs.
While President Obama has staked out clear opposition to the House of Representatives’ anti-choice shenanigans, it’s still disappointing to hear such tepid rhetoric at a time when many women see their access to constitutionally protected rights slipping away.
Natasha Vargas-Cooper at Jezebel imagines a scenario in which politicians brought their vigor for other topics to defending our rights to abortion access:
Last night, President Obama assured us that our government has the right to act “unilaterally” and “relentlessly” to shut down terrorist networks who pose a direct threat to us.
And so we began to dream.
What would it be like for a President to say those same words about protecting our civil right to an abortion?
Full disclosure: my political interests are narrow. They are tied directly to what I can do with my body, labor, and my economic standing in this country. Other issues are important to me; those three trump all others.
So I wait for a political leader to say, frankly and boldly, that he or she will fight like hell for these things.
Remember when Joe Biden said he would follow ISIS into the gates of hell? I would like that sort of passion and dick wagging about my own rights. I think I deserve that.
What will it take to get to a place where the right supported by the majority of the American people is enthusiastically embraced? One thing I know is that most politicians aren’t going to start doing that unless we make them.