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March 26, 2008

To Choice III

Today is the birthday of Gloria Steinem, women's rights advocate and feminist icon. The founder and original publisher of Ms. magazine and co-convener of the National Women's Political Caucus, Steinem has become synonymous with "Second Wave Feminism", which refers to a period of feminist thought that originated in the 1960s and was focused on improviding women's rights (e.g., economic equality, rights of female minorities and lesbians, etc.)

Today is also the Back Up Your Birth Control Campaign Day of Action, a day to raise awareness about emergency contraception or EC (also known as the "morning-after pill" or the "day after pill"). Although Emergency Contraception pills, such as Plan B(R) are now available over-the-counter to women 18 and older, it's still pretty expensive ($40-60) which greatly reduces access for many women.

Join advocates across the country today by raising awareness of EC and ensuring that every woman can back up her birth control with EC when and if she needs it. (We also recommend joining the Pill Patrol to make sure that pharmacies across America are stocking and dispensing EC without discrimination or delay).

I'm sure it was coincidental that BUYBC chose today as their Day of Action, but it's somewhat suiting considering that Steinem was a huge advocate for reproductive freedom (a term she coined actually). Her activism (with countless others) helped pave the way towards legal abortion. She also appeared in the 2005 documentary film I Had an Abortion, discussing her own illegal abortion.

When asked about the difference between "pro-choice" and "pro-abortion" (in an online discussion in 2002), Steinem responded:

Pro-choice is the more accurate term because the idea of pro-choice people is both to allow the individual to make this decision rather than having the government force their decision on the individual but the problem with the pro-choice term is that it doesn't mention abortion and so may confuse people. Still, I prefer it because the point is to reduce the necessity of abortion by having sex education in the schools and easily available contraception.

Unfortunately, the same organizations that are anti-abortion often increase the number of abortions by opposing sex education and contraception. Actually, abortion is self-limiting whenever that is possible. I don't know anybody who gets up in the morning, "It's a nice day. I think I'll have an abortion." It is not a pleasurable experience. But it is sometimes the most moral, ethical and health and life saving choice.

Yesterday we wrote about Jane: The Chicago Women's Liberation Union's Abortion Counseling Service (and have written about choice many times), but it's important to remember that reproductive rights aren't just about abortion. Reproductive freedom refers to the freedom to have children or not, and therefore also includes access to contraception and sex education (as well as access to safe, affordable pre-natal care and protection from forced sterilization or abortion).

So in honor of today's topics, we thought we'd give you a another "To Choice" update.

  • NARAL Pro-Choice New York has developed The Book of Choices, the first and only comprehensive resource that provides New York women with information about all their reproductive choices (including info on contraception, pregnancy, abortion, adoption, and parenting).

  • NARAL Pro-Choice has also launched MeetTheRealMcCain.com, a website designed to educate voters about Sen. John McCain's terrible record on women's reproductive rights. Of course, you already knew that we wanted McCain to suck it, but their site offers you even more evidence that he's not the "moderate" we all think he is. (You can find out how Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama stand on reproductive rights here).

  • One of our favorite bloggers (and Evil Slutopia-readers) May recently wrote about the history of birth control on her blog, May's Machete. She also discusses fertility, sexuality, pregnancy, miscarriage, and childbirth - among other topics - at her other blog Sitting In The South.

  • Bad news for choice: In November, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) issued ethics guidelines that required members with a "moral objection" to performing abortions to refer their patients to another provider (and do so in a timely manner). In yet another asshole-move by the Bush administration, Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavette recently tried to block these guidelines by claiming that referring patients for abortion would be forcing these physicas to "violate their conscience". Sigh. He should be protecting a women's right to have access to a legal medical procedure, not recommending that doctors be allowed to turn women away based on "conscience", which really means "religion/morals" which has no place in department of Health and Human Service anyway. And of course (to get back on topic of BUYBC Action Day) this policy could very well also block women's access to emergency contraception, even those who were the victims of rape.

1 comment:

May said...

I've been a little behind on my reading, so I didn't even see your link love! Thanks, ladies. You're kick ass!