Women and Respectability Politics

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Many of us have seen the videos of Planned Parenthood managers talking about selling fetuses for stem cell research (they don’t actually sell them.) The folks who engineered these videos have apparently spliced and diced and concocted an art form out of taking recorded words out of context.

Still, there is unease when we actually realize what is happening, that fetuses are being used to study how humans are made and how they can be repaired, that is, how they can be healed. And I get that but we have to be willing to think this through.

Since we decided a number of years ago that stem cell research was useful and therefore acceptable-even Republican Ben Carson admits to being involved in that kind of research-then why is it shocking to learn how those cells are procured?

Well, that’s one question, one that the Right Wing knows that most of us are ignorant about, and that might lead us to reconsider the original question-women’s right to choose or not choose childbirth at certain times and circumstances of their lives.

I recently saw Wendy Davis, she of women’s-right-to-choose fame, defend Planned Parenthood on the basis that 97% of its work is in women’s reproductive health and, indeed, women’s health in general, like screenings for various diseases. So it’s true that no federal money goes to abortion and that in some states without the ACA, women must use these clinics as their primary providers. Most people would agree they need to have some kind of health care.

As an older woman who had an abortion shortly after they became legal in California and most of whose friends have had legal and/or illegal abortions, as a woman who is the mother of two, one of whom is female, I wanna say, stop with the nuances and justifications.

Just stop. Every time you appease these misogynists (and some are women,) you move us a step backward in our demands for rights as persons. But then, we no longer make demands, we’re back to pleading for consideration of a woman’s right to life. All of the Republican candidates now feel obliged to say that they would rather see a woman die than risk the loss of a fetus! When they’re not making rape a victimless crime, they’re criminalizing us when we become mothers and can’t afford childcare or demeaning us when we don’t want to home school our kids.

Of course, it does make sense to state that when all types of birth control are made completely available to women of any age and income level, the demand for abortions goes down-that is proven. Unfortunately, many states have made it more difficult to even obtain any kind of birth control much less the medical, non-surgical forms of abortion. To these zealots an egg, is more human and needs more rights and protections than the woman who may have to nurture it. Of course, if it turns out to be female, the value of that life decreases after it arrives on earth much like a new car after it is driven off the lot.

So all I’m saying is, I don’t really want to hear all the logical arguments, because they are based on us trying to prove to the men who rule us that we’re good people that we have the “right” intentions, that we’re good moms and sisters, aunts and grandmothers. Everyone knows women who have had abortions, everyone. Most of us would prefer not to though, in fact 60% of women seeking abortions are already parents, but geez, now I’m doing it too.

As Ben Carson put it, “There is no war on women — there may be a war on what’s inside of women.” Apparently I need to remind the good doctor and everybody else that what’s inside me is mine and I don’t need your approval  to decide what is best for me, my outsides and my insides.

And here’s another one, I hate that mantra, “it’s between her and her doctor,” no , sorry, my doctor doesn’t get to decide, even with the laughable notion of the old family doctor who knows us so well-the implication being that it is a wise old man-no again, not his decision-it’s mine and maybe my partner’s if I so choose.

You guys or ladies, women, at Planned Parenthood may have consulted some PR people, the wrong ones, I suspect, who told you that it is unseemly to talk about aborted fetuses and how they serve born people. If some of you find my choices disreputable or not respectable enough, I’m okay with that, because I’m in charge of my decisions.

I submit that if we occasionally don’t give birth because we have made that decision, it should be okay to use those cells to benefit humankind without apologies. Similarly, I don’t ask you to beg that I retain some small say over how I protect my body’s integrity, my integrity as a human being. I earned that right when I was born.

2 thoughts on “Women and Respectability Politics

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