Happy Anniversary, Roe

roeToday is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Tomorrow, I’ll have something more concrete about what Roe means to me, but today there’s lots of great content roaming around the internet that I wanted to give you in the meantime.

First, I want to call out a friend’s blog, Dr. Coffee’s Brain Banter. Dr. Coffee is a med student in Florida, and as part of his program he participated in abortion training through a reproductive health externship. He writes extremely eloquently about about the medicine, but also about his patients and the process. Part one is mostly science, part two is mostly ethics. Just a sample:

Where these women are is often in a very bad place, and though I was only one cog in the machine, I began to take ownership of their plight.  If they didn’t want to feel this way, and knew that ending this pregnancy was their path back to feeling healthy and free, I even felt some aggression toward that growing mass of cells.  Let’s get that shit out, now, and without apology.

I mention this because despite the normal dark-cloud tone that hangs above most dirty Ab-word discussions, probably a third of the patients I’ve seen will actually smile… and smile a good amount!  (Indeed another friend recently mentioned that her experience wasn’t much to write home about.  Quick and easy.)  They smiled as the team introduced itself, smiled as they laid back and vocalized their nervousness with a laugh, and were relaxed and calm in the recovery room.

When he first shared this writing, it reminded me an non-fiction essay called “What Comes Out” by Dawnelle Wilkie, which is also worth a read.

Have you read Caitlin Moran’s How to Be A Woman? She also has an excellent chapter on abortion that focuses on one of the most forgotten/ignored statistics: In 2008 60% of women who have abortions are already mothers. That number has actually risen to 72% in the last four years. You mean people have a harder time taking care of their families during a recession? Crazy talk! The reason I want to drive home this point about mothers is because it undermines that weird caricature that Republicans* like to point to, the “sex-crazed”, can’t-keep-her-legs-shut, slutty, irresponsible, 23-year-old. Sure, those 23-year-olds exist and I completely support their right to choose, but that’s not actually the average user of abortion services.

Abortion isn’t really about sex, it’s about economics, and childcare, and education, and healthcare. That’s not as salacious as some conservatives would like to make the story, but it is the truth.

*A commenter left an excellent point on this phrasing. There are plenty of pro-choice Republicans (and there are pro-life Democrats). This should have read, “that weird caricature that pro-lifers like to….” Thanks commenter, good call. 

Related Post: Huffington Post and the changing iconography of the abortion debate

Related Post: Things that are not the opposite of misogyny.



Filed under Gender, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

5 responses to “Happy Anniversary, Roe

  1. Don Shirtcliff

    You can’t make that blanket statement in the next to last paragraph about “Republicans liked to point out” as it weakens your argument. Pro Life and Pro Choice (if that is even the current terminology) in not purely an idealogical agrument between blue and red. To equate it with such cause you to lose a lot of credibility. I know a lot of pro choice republicans and I know a lot of pro life democrats. It all comes down to economics and personal accountability. Your sexual status be gay/straight slut/prude and all ranges in between mean nothing to me. As long as age of majority is achieved (no adult with children) then I don’t care. Your birth control status or method – none of my business, do what you want. But I don’t want to pay for it. This is were the distinction is drawn between red and blue. Personal responsibility and personal accountability. You make the choices in your life, you live with those choices. Don’t ask me (fed gov’t) to pay for your choices especially when one of the choices cost no money (abstainence).

    I know, i know. We can ask teenagers and young adults to control their raging hormones especially when it a natural and normal bodily function.

    True, but that wasn’t your argument. You implied 72% of abortions are mothers looking to control household cost during economically depressed times. The story you are trying to paint is June Cleaver having an abortion because Ward didn’t get the raise.

    My experience comes from people I work with (usually middle age women complaining about their daughters) and they speak of the single mother with 2 or 3 kids by maybe 1 or 2 previous guys (maybe husband, maybe not) dating someone new and doesn’t want another kid. Is that the caricature to which you were referring.

  2. Don my friend! I couldn’t disagree much more here. Rosie was very kind in her comments, but this isn’t my blog so I don’t have to be. I don’t expect you will be to me. 1. It’s difficult to talk about others losing credibility if you decline to reread and edit your comments that are littered with grammatical, spelling, and punctuation errors. 2. If you don’t want to pay for others’ birth control, you can pay for the unintended offspring’s schooling, societal-growth related infrastructure, etc., through other taxes (I think the latter option will be more expensive, but I’m not an economist.) Traditionally, this has been a rough catch-22 for the average republican (anti-choice yet anti-social services once the child is born). 3. If you (or other more conservative folks, I obviously don’t know you well) wish to fly the flag of responsibility and accountability, which I think is generally a great idea, I think it’d help to start by understanding basic human physiology, the necessity of sex/sexuality. I can be held responsible for having to take a shit no more than needing to ejaculate. I needed to be educated on where to put the feces just like where to put the semen (preferably in a condom). Holding me “accountable” while declining to educate me shows my ignorance, yes, but also your ignoramus assumptions about humans, while riding high on the horse of the Moral Code of Responsibility tribe! You reference hormonal teens, which is nice to hear, but I couldn’t follow your point after that. We pay for public education to prevent illness, which is great (and cheaper), but we also pick up the tab for our public city hospital’s treatment of someone’s horrible flu, should they not have gotten the vaccine (the prevention). Similarly, we can educate and pay for the pregnancy prevention (birth control, IUDs, etc.), and should the shit hit the fan, pay for the failure of prevention in either the existence of another child, or an abortion. From the primary care doctor’s perspective, that pregnancy is a failure of prevention, and so is the abortion. From a responsibility standpoint, I blame the healthcare industry for not making oral contraceptives over the fucking counter yet (though the American Ob/Gyn association just finally recommended that the FDA do so!), as well as the pregnant couple. I’m not going to be a heartless person and turn my back on the woman in a rough spot, though, as I hope you wont either. Luckily it doesn’t sound like you’re in a position of power to help make these decisions, so now I’m realizing I’m the ranty guy on the interwebs wasting his, and likely your, time. Cheers.

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