The news media and blogosphere are always buzzing with incensed coverage of the War on Choice, but, as usual, the dialogue is intensely slanted on the side of privilege. I should know, that’s the side I live in.
While I have nightmares about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, and grapple with the even realer fear that statewide legislation will whittle down my chance to abort to a two-day window following insemination, I don’t really believe that I will ever be denied my right to choose. Even if I never find another job and run deep into debt, I have incredible family and friends who would front me whatever money I needed to travel and pay for an abortion. And this is true for most of the women who write about abortion rights on the internet.
The aggressive outcry over Planned Parenthood’s defunding took a decidedly problematic turn when advocates decided, early on, to shift the focus from abortion. “Planned Parenthood does other stuff too!” they cried. “Just look at all the medical care they provide for women with familes, women who love their children and just want to be healthy enough to raise them!” What they ignored was the fact that taxpayer dollars SHOULD be paying for women to get abortions, just like they pay for other medical procedures and healthcare services. The right to choose is not just for people who can afford it. And the sooner we bring that fact front and center instead of brushing it under the carpet, the closer we’ll be to embracing a feminism that isn’t racist or classist or otherwise elite.
That’s why it made me so angry to see this post on the usually-progressive reddit the other day (emphasis added):
Why do people continue to be hypnotized by the red herring of abortion? Abortion has been legal for nearly 40 years and that’s very, very unlikely to change regardless of who’s president. Stop encouraging debate on abstract bullshit… let’s focus on real issues.
Let’s stop allowing candidates to debate soft topics like abortion and spend more time on real topics that require actual action like the wars, economy, foreign policy, etc.
And despite the significant feminist outcry, the majority of the top-rated comments agreed with the OP. I left some angry responses, linked to this article (if you don’t click any other links, click this), and went to bed a little more disillusioned than when I woke up.
Then today, a MotherJones article by my indomitable hero Mac McClelland directed me at this cheery piece of news. The Ohio Senate has decided that not only can public hospitals no longer perform abortions, but public dollars can’t even fund healthcare plans that cover the procedure. And the kicker? It only applies to rural, unincorporated counties. This means Appalachia and the Rust Belt. It means Lorain County, my place of residence for the past four years, and Athens County, where my mom grew up. It means all the tiny towns I spent the last week canvassing, wondering how on earth it feels to live hours away from the nearest Target - let alone an abortion provider.
The reality of the War on Choice is that abortion has become a class issue. It’s not a black-and-white issue of morality, and you can’t make the problems go away by upholding Roe. It’s time for our politicians and advocates to stop legitimizing the anti-choice zealots by obscuring the issue and avoiding the sadly incendiary truth: MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT ONE’S BODY IS A FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT THAT NECESSITATES FULL GOVERNMENT FUNDING AND SUPPORT, no matter what state you live in. Let’s have some actual action, please.