40 Years Later–What the Roe?

For Khan ArticleJanuary 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!

This week marks the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion in the United States. But 40 years later, does the ruling matter? The easy answer is no. While American women still have the right to have an abortion, many cannot exercise that right. Abortion opponents have successfully reduced women’s access to clinics that perform the procedure and placed unneccesary restrictions on many of the clinics that do. Four states have only one abortion clinic, the past two years have seen a record amount of antiabortion legislation passed in state legislatures, and 2013 is already promising more of the same.

But easy answers never tell the whole story. If they did, we would have stopped arguing about abortion ages ago–right around the time “Abortion is Murder” met “My Body, My Choice.” The uneasy answer is that Roe v. Wade very much matters in 2013 … except when it doesn’t.

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Is Roe Taken for Granted?

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!

Time’s recent cover story on the challenges faced by the pro-choice movement in the four decades after Roe, “What Choice,” couldn’t come at a better time. As the anniversary of Roe approaches at the end of this month, it seems appropriate not just to examine the current state of abortion rights and restrictions, but the other obstacles that the pro-choice movement is facing—in particular, the idea of a generational divide among activists. (Full disclosure: Kate Pickert, the author of “What Choice,” interviewed me for this article, but my quotes were not in the finished piece.)

By highlighting the work of the Red River Women’s Clinic—the only clinic in North Dakota that provides abortion services—readers were given an engaging picture of just how difficult it can be for women to access a legal medical service. The graphics accompanying the piece also made this point quite clearly.

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Religious Pro-Choicers are Speaking Up for the Right to Choose

What caught my attention the other day was a clip that highlighted religious pro-choicers in Louisville, Kentucky. Women from an array of different faiths have gathered in order to challenge the pro-life movement and to put forward the argument that they are pro-choice partly because of their faith. These women have organized and come together in order to, often with the support of religious authorities, claim that the Bible does not say that abortion is illegal.

Jo Ann Dale, a board member of the Kentucky Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (KRCRC), who represented the group for the interview, stated that a pro-choice attitude is definitely compatible with religion and religious views. She further said that: “The angel did not say that you are going to be the mother of God, the angel said: are you willing to do this? She had the choice”. Thereby, pro-choice is encouraged in the Bible and is definitely accepted. 

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Feminist Conversations: Megan Smith

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature where we talk to activists from across the interwebs about what feminism means to them. Today we’re talking to Megan Smith, founder of the Repeal Hyde Art Project, a community-based art project to raise awareness of and increase dialogue about the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal Medicaid dollars from covering abortion. In addition to the Repeal Hyde Art Project, Megan works at Ibis Reproductive Health and volunteers at the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund (EMA Fund).

1. What was your inspiration for starting the Repeal Hyde Art Project?
I’m an artist passionate about reproductive health and abortion access, so I’m interested in ways to use art as a tool raise awareness and increase dialogue about issues like Hyde (the federal amendment banning Medicaid from covering abortion except under very limited circumstances.) My work prior to the Project had been successful but very one sided. In developing this project, I wanted to explore a way to use art to create a conversation made up of many voices. Instead of telling people what I thought, I wanted people to be able to participate, and in that way, to become more involved with the issue.

I designed the birds because I wanted to create a positive image. Hyde is a hard issue to keep talking about, because it’s invisible, politically complicated, and has been around for 35 years, so the challenge is to figure out ways to keep us talking about it. I also wanted an optimistic image because I think if we don’t have hope about Hyde being repealed than it’s not going to happen, and because the image honors the people who have struggled to pay for abortions.
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Project Unbreakable – Inspiring and Raising Awareness

In October of 2011 Grace Brown started Project Unbreakable: the beginning of healing through art. By photographing survivors of sexual assault holding a sign with a quote from their rapists, family, friends, police officers, or a message to their rapists, Brown helps give survivors of sexual assault a voice. Brown has photographed over one hundred survivors and has received over eight hundred submissions from all over the country. These stories are extremely diverse and no story or no message is the same. Sometimes the women and men photographed cover their faces, other times they do not. Sometimes they are in the same place where the assault happened. Often the messages target former partners and family members and show the extreme manipulation and attempted justification of the rapists and their actions. Often these voices point to victim blaming, threats, rationalization of the assault and disbelief or trivialization of the assault by people close to the survivor, as well as assumed ownership over the survivor’s body. Examples of messages and quotes that reflect this are among many other:

“How hard can it be to have to see him everyday on campus? Just move on!”

“How could you let this happen to you?”

“But you’re my girlfriend…your body is mine”

“It’s not rape, we are married, that means I can have it when I want”

When scrolling through the pictures and reading the messages and quotes presented by the women and men who have been sexually assaulted we are inspired by the courage and strength of the survivors. The photographs are both heartbreaking and strong at the same time and we are filled with empathy for the survivors and their struggles. At the same time, we admire them for speaking out and supporting others who are, or have been in the same situation. These women and men help raise awareness of the atrocity of sexual assault and how it is a crime that should never be forgotten.   [Read more...]

A Day in the Life of a Clinic Escort

Editors’ Note: Today’s guest post comes to us from Miranda Pennington, a clinic escort from New York City who is in her first year of a Creative Nonfiction MFA at Columbia University. You can follow Miranda on Twitter, and check out her blog.

Saturday Morning, 26 Bleecker Street

What could they have said to her?

What could convince a young, pregnant Latina woman walking up to the doors of Planned Parenthood for a scheduled abortion to change her mind, to walk away with two bikers and the novice nun they pulled away from the rosary procession hailing Mary around the corner?

Was it a persuasive promise of affordable counseling, prenatal care, parenting classes, postpartum checkups, and birth control?

No, wait, that’s what Planned Parenthood offers. [Read more...]

March Online for Reproductive Rights!

Join the online march for women’s rights! During “Trust Women Week,” January 20-27, a whole host of fantastic organizations, including Medical Students for Choice, Ms., the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, and the National Network of Abortion Funds have come together to support women’s lives and women’s rights. This online, mass mobilization is letting members of Congress, state governors, and selected state legislators know just how important reproductive rights are, and making sure that your voice will be heard. To learn more and add your message, click here!


Amy McCarthy Describes the Potential of Online Activism

This month we’ve been spotlighting the Feminists for Choice writers as part of our Feminist Conversations series. I’m personally very grateful for all of the awesome feminists who make up our team. Amy McCarthy has been especially helpful when it comes to our social media presence. Amy helped us figure out how to make our Facebook page more interactive – and she’s always good for some snark on the Twitter.

Find out more about this fabulous Texan and how she has integrated online tools into her feminist activism.

1. When did you first call yourself a feminist? And what influenced that decision?
I think in college. I was on the debate team and hanging out with a bunch of crazy hippies and took a women’s studies class. I really didn’t get more actively interested in feminist causes until I started blogging here, actually. It’s all your fault, Feminists For Choice! When I got involved with social media it became clear that I wanted to use those channels to talk about feminism and issues that affected women. I’ve met a lot of amazing feminists and a lot of terrible trolls through social, but it really has been for the best.

2. How did you get started doing social media work?
Accidentally, actually. I was a nanny and hated my life and nannying and I responded to an ad for a “social media writer” at a local nonprofit. It didn’t pay well, but I learned a lot and got to do some good work. I was sad to leave. I languished at a couple of pretty terrible “social media” jobs for about a year, and then finally started editing/doing social for an online parenting publication. It’s excellent – I get to be 100% pro-woman and pro-child without being political in any way. [Read more...]

Nancy Pitts of Women Have Options Describes the Rewards of Pro-Choice Activism

This month’s focus on gratitude would be totally incomplete without a conversation with Nancy Pitts from Women Have Options in Ohio. I met Nancy at the 2011 National Network of Abortions Funds summit. Nancy has been an incredible mentor – and she has helped the Abortion Access Network of Arizona get started.

Find out how Nancy got involved with pro-choice activism, and what drives her work today. And be sure to check out the WHOO Facebook page – you’re guaranteed to receive a daily dose of inspiration if you do.

1. How did you first get involved in the pro-choice movement? And what motivates you to stay involved?
My serious commitment to the movement began just a few years back, when I learned of Women Have Options, Ohio’s statewide abortion fund. Something had been missing in my life: passion, purpose, drive. So I started getting connected with the pro-choice movement. As with many things in life, a chain of introductions and meetings and connections turned into something I could not have foreseen at the outset: joining the board of Women Have Options.

When I first met with the board’s founder and chair, I had never heard of an abortion fund. I was profoundly moved by the discussion. When I had my abortion 15 years ago, I was terrified about being pregnant. But I didn’t worry about how to pay for my abortion. Today, through my work with Women Have Options, I’m paying back my good fortune, because if a woman can’t afford her choice, she doesn’t really have one. [Read more...]

Sarah Erdreich Interviews Generation Roe

Feminist Conversations is a regular feature at Feminists for Choice, where we talk to different activists to find out what feminism means to them. This month we’re spotlighting the Feminists for Choice writing team as a way of showing our gratitude for such amazing team members.

Sarah Erdreich joined the Feminists for Choice writing team in the Fall of 2010. (That’s her adorable pooch Hugo in the photo.) Sarah reached out to us after she read an article in the New York Times that examined the perceived generational gap in the feminist movement. When she’s not busy blogging, Sarah is putting the finishing touches on her book Generation Roe.

1.  When did you first call yourself a feminist?  What influenced your decision?
Pretty much from the time that I knew what a feminist was, I called myself one. My family definitely influenced my decision –my parents were, and still are, socially and politically progressive, and they weren’t shy about sharing their beliefs with my sister and me. I remember a button that my mom had when I was a kid, that said “Pro-Family, Pro-Child, Pro-Choice,” and just thinking yeah, that makes sense. I guess to me, being a feminist was just so natural, I never gave it a second thought. [Read more...]