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My Stake in Abortion Access

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Submitted by KMPatwardhan on Wed, 2009-12-16 09:36

I've wondered, with a lot of women's sexual issues, why I'm so passionate it? I am not on the pill, and somehow, I don't think we'll ever be at a point that condoms will be banned, and in the event that any store pulled a CVS, I like to think I'd have the ovaries to look the cashier dead in the face and say, "I would like a size x box of brand y condoms, please. Thanks." This is passing over the fact that most health clinics are well stocked with condoms. Banning condoms is just not happening. It's marginally more likely that women will be barred from buying them, and that too, is highly unlikely. And then even if that did happen, I'd probably don baggy clothes and wear a hat and forego the make-up and beautiful perfume and tell them my name is Virilus Andro Maximus and buy those things. Then I'd offer to do just that for other women for a price, and make some money on the side.

Every three years, I buy a dose of emergency contraception, which, knock on wood, won't actually be useful to me, until it expires, then I replace it (when I'm not actually in need of it). Back in the day, when the FDA knew damn well that it was perfectly safe and effective but was still not approving it for over the counter status, I was a high schooler. I was angry at lawmakers, of course, but I was also wondering, "Why don't sexually active girls just get a prescription from their doc beforehand, fill it, and stash it to have at the ready if and when they DO need it?"

And in the event that I had sex with a man, AND my birth control method failed AND emergency contraception failed and I found myself facing a pregnancy that I wanted to abort, well, I have money stashed away for emergencies. Now that I'm 23, this is moot, but as a minor, even with a mother who disapproved of premarital sex, I didn't have to worry about restrictions on minors, because my mother's maternity trumped her sexual values. I also lived in the suburbs of Washington, DC, so I could easily go to the city or to Maryland via mass transit. And as I'd given thought to what course of action I'd take if I got pregnant when I was thirteen, and continued thinking about it, and was damn sure that I'd haul ass to terminate ANY pregnancy that my (non-existent) lover and I didn't deliberately create, I also wouldn't get guilt-tripped out of having an abortion. All of this was passing over the fact that I was not sexually active to begin with. (All that time I WASN'T spending having sex, I was spending thinking about these hypothetical questions.)

The point is, it would be easy for me to believe that I had no dog in this fight for a woman's right to choose.

Wrong. WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Restricting women's reproductive choices is based on a view that women are only good for incubating, birthing, and raising offspring. The woman who has an abortion, even if, like most women who have abortions she already has children that she loves dearly or will eventually have children that she'll love dearly, is an affront to traditional notions of femininity simply because she didn't embrace the prospect of maternity. She went against the role that the patriarchy had assigned to her.

This is one step removed from dictating to women not to have non-procreative sex with a man (completely passing over how those who think this way probably look down even more on non-heterosexual relationships). This is one step removed from proscribing ANY non-procreative sexual expression, including masturbation. It's one step removed from punishing completely asexual women, for failing to give birth, because that too is tantamount to failing to be a child-bearer.

It's also only one step removed from vilifying any behavior at all that doesn't fit into a very narrow mold of traditional femininity. I don't know about you, but I want to laugh at crude jokes (no, not rape jokes), I want to watch South Park, I want to be good at math, I want to argue, I want to wear pants some days, I want to hear people say swear words, I want to be a nerd, I want to earn an income, I want to be able to admit freely that I do in fact use the bathroom. Etc. Restricting other women's access to reproductive health services is not far removed from restricting my own right to do any of the above or even to write this very essay.

Being pro-choice is about a whole lot more than just abortion or even birth control for that matter. Even if the question of abortion access is completely moot to you, even if you're married and your husband got a vasectomy, even if you're asexual, it still behooves you to care about access to abortion just because it's a proxy for the place in society of anyone who isn't a cis-gendered, heterosexual man.

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