Remind Me to Choose: A Kit for Reproductive Choice!

After a very thoughtful month celebrating Roe v. Wade, here is a modest kit for helping to make important reproductive choices.

Know your body and sexuality:

Know your rights:

Share and support:

Involvement:

Information:

You definitely can choose! Spread the word!

The Path to Choice: Abortion in France

January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wadedecision. All month, we’ll be running posts examining various aspects of this landmark ruling. If you’d like to contribute, let us know!

The right to choose and perform abortion in France dates from 1975, thanks to the Veil Act (named for the Minister of Health Simone Veil, who proposed and defended the law). Before that, the 1920 Act forbade any incitement to contraceptive and abortion, which was considered a crime. Under the Vichy regime during the World War II, abortion was a crime against state security and punishable by the death penalty—in 1943, for example, Madame Marie-Louise Giraud, who practiced abortions to provide for her family during German occupation, was guillotined. During the early 1970s, the country saw an increase in activism in favor of the right to choose abortion; the 1972 Bobigny Case, in which a teen rape victim risked her life to obtain an illegal abortion, caused a groundswell of opinion that led to the Veil Act.

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Roe v. Wade is More Than a Decision: Life has Recovered its Rights

January 22, 2013 marks the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. All month, we’ll be running posts examining various aspects of this landmark ruling. If you’d like to contribute, let us know!

Abortion has existed for centuries, but the right to choose abortion, and therefore enter motherhood voluntarily, has existed for less than a century. In the United States, this right is protected by Roe v. Wade. But followers of certain religious faiths argue that abortion is murder. Nobody is pro-abortion, certainly not feminists who fight for the right to choose and the dignity of women as human beings. To make a choice, we must be able to act knowingly. Freedom is a blessing which builds when reflection and awareness are used as guides. To make the best possible choice, we need to know as much as possible.

Is teaching creationism, negationism, and climate skepticism, and not teaching biology the best way to prepare youth to grow up in this world, enter the workforce, and start a family? Is any effort to make people believe from an early age that they will never be autonomous to make decisions, but at the same time that they are the only rightful people in the world, the proper way to establish a partnership between God and humanity?

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Be Fruitful and Multiply Capitalism: Children as Economic Items

According to a recent online article in U.S. News and World Report, “… one of the great strengths of the U.S. economy, especially compared to Europe and Japan, is a relatively high birth rate.” This statement is pretty clear:  procreation equates to production. Thus, why–or rather, for whom—could birthrate be a problem? Isn’t the angst about fertility hiding the real difficulties faced by population?

Is a falling birthrate a big problem?

Others in the media have also warned that if women don’t have higher numbers of children, the economy could suffer. New York Times columnist Ross Douthat compared the decreasing American birthrate to France’s higher one: “America has no real family policy to speak of at the moment, and the evidence from countries like Sweden and France suggests that reducing the ever-rising cost of having kids can help fertility rates rebound.” But while benefits such the ones in France obviously could help those rates rebound, they aren’t the key to economic growth. [Read more...]

Women’s Honor and Survival: When a Woman Kills her Rapist in Turkey

This past September, a Turkish woman shot and beheaded the man that had blackmailed and raped her for months. The woman, identified as N.Y., was also pregnant by her rapist; she had “repeatedly stated her to wish to abort the baby,” according to news reports, but her request was denied by a Turkish court. In Turkey, women are permitted to abort a pregnancy that was the result of rape up until the 20th week; since N.Y. was 29 weeks pregnant, the court said she could not legally obtain an abortion. Last month, she gave birth to a girl; N.Y. has said she will not raise a child that was the result of rape, and the girl will be placed in state foster care. (Interestingly, the widow of the man that raped N.Y. had initially offered to raise the baby, but her children objected so much that she withdrew her offer.)

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The Economic Crisis and the New Witches

Historically, witches have been scapegoats, and witch-hunting has occurred during periods of crisis such as wars, and times of famine or disease. More recently, the consequences of the global economic crisis have been devastating: unemployment, poverty, and in some countries, an increasing number of suicides. But some politicians have more pressing concerns: in Spain, for example, the Conservatives target women who can already come under heavy fire when it comes to economic issues. This behavior can uphold patterns such as the economic and social marginalization of women.

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The Mother, The Welfare State, and The Others

The welfare state began in Europe in the late 19th century, but reached its climax after World War II. Europe was devastated and needed to be rebuilt, and at the time, the guarantees of social security, employment, and retirement were real human progress. The population had also declined, and in France, a country of pro-natalist tradition, policies that encouraged having children were more of a priority than ever. Financial support for mothers and other family benefits were introduced, and these pro-natalist policies still exist in France today.

Generally motherhood is glorified, to the detriment of women that don’t have children. Glorifying motherhood to this point, and to the point that it can seem to be an obligation, can also be considered in attitudes that victimize women and demonize men. The persistence of beliefs such as women are weaker than men, can put women into defenseless roles that are reinforced by other, equally damaging beliefs, like women are kindness incarnate because they can give birth. Such obstinate views like women are incomplete without kids, or men are always the bad guys, can contribute to a perception that women that make different choices are abnormal or bad, and therefore are easier for society to reject.

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A Declaration of Love to the US, From a European Who Would Vote for Obama

I live in France, and I regularly witness anti-American sentiments. But I believe that the U.S. is worthy of admiration. I feel close to this country, as if it were a zeyde who would tell me, “I started with nothing not so long ago and look where I am today. Go, go on.” This Yiddish grandfather could tell me how people learnt from each other and, with all their dreams and joys, all their differences and fights, built a vast place and entered into the history as best as one can.

If I could vote in the U.S. presidential election, I would vote for Barack Obama. To me, he embodies the ethnic, religious, and cultural mix of so many other Americans. Obama also embodies tolerance; he has the courage and the merit to speak about a woman’s right to choose, even while 50% of the U.S. population identifies as anti-choice. I was moved the first time I saw a picture of Obama praying; I am not a Christian, but I am a believer who is the result of an interracial and interreligious (Muslim-Jewish) marriage. So I am personally touched by the (success) story of President Obama.

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Size M and the Islamic Veil: Thinking about Freedom and Submissiveness in Western Culture

The classic mainstream media encourages diets, while trivializing thinness with retouched photos of celebrities who are already thin. These images at least partly meet the fantasies of Western men, showing women getting younger and thinner, and increasingly close to the body of a young girl.

Meanwhile, the West perceives the Islamic world as a separate place where violence against women is intensified and secular, a late and barbaric world concerning progress of democracy and gender equality. This post is not about issues related to history and geopolitical contexts in the Islamic world;  rather, the point here is to highlight the gap in perceptions of and by the Other. It consists of a cultural gap that distorts reality and thereby causes a wrong image about some aspects of women’s condition in the Muslim world. This cultural gap has been the subject of Le Harem et l’Occident (2001), a book by Fatema Mernissi.

This does not compare the two types of society and what would be the best, but instead highlights some specific elements of women’s condition according to the context and looking at how individual choices of resistance and mass submission may be present in both contexts.

Misunderstandings about the freedom of women
Originally, the word “harem” means “forbidden.” But for Western men, it represents a kind of orgiastic place where unhindered men succeed in a miracle by enjoying a multitude of women they enslaved. This false image of the harem was developed by European artists during the early modern period; in revenge, Muslim artists did not hide the fact that this is a place of confinement and that women who lived in the harem were aware of being oppressed. [Read more...]

International Roundup: Let Contraceptives Live!

On 11 July 2012 the UK Government and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with UNFPA and other partners hosted a groundbreaking summit for a global policy, financing, commodity, and service delivery commitments to support the rights of an additional 120 million women and girls in the world’s poorest countries to use contraceptive information, services and supplies, without coercion or discrimination, by 2020. For this occasion, here are some news about reproductive rights, its relentless struggles, and the progress to be made.

Contraceptive use averts more than 272,000 maternal worldwide deaths from childbirth every year, a new study has claimed.

The Billionaire Melinda Gates Launches Global Crusade for Contraception

Aljazeera Opinion: Let them have contraception

Liberia: Baby Blues – No Policy for Pregnant School Girls

No contraceptives  available for 1.7 million Rajasthan women