The last couple weeks have been marred with debates about abortion and birth control, and basically what many white Christian elites think is best for everyone else, just so long as they aren't expected to actually adhere to the beliefs they want to impose on everyone else. Apparently many social conservatives know better than the people who actually possess the anatomy in question.
I'm tired of this, I'm just so fucking tired of it. This is ridiculous. I have the right to reproductive health care, and I should have just as equal access as any man should have getting Viagra or addressing his own reproductive concerns. This shouldn't be a debate settled by puritan attitudes but by science and fairness.
Women deserve equal access. Women deserve to be able to decide things for themselves without a patriarchal god or political party to tell us what we "should" and "shouldn't" do.
I have things in my life that I use to take as something that had already been fought for, and the rights we women have to be able to access health care and make decisions about our own bodies cannot be decided by anyone else.
But now I find that somehow birth control (which in case anyone missed it, prevents pregnancy from occurring) is now just as bad in social conservative's eyes as abortion? I mean here in a bible belt, that has always been a general idea that I have had to deal with when talking to very fringe evangelicals. I remember in high school the girls who took birth control were "sluts" and people would ostracize them. Now we have elected officials and people running for president spewing this ignorance.
No, I'm sorry I did not learn about the Constitution and the history of our nation to let ANYONE try to legislate their personal religious beliefs as law. I know it happens, sadly more often than people would like, but I will vehemently protect my right to decide that was you believe is a bunch of hooey in my mind, just as I will protect your right to believe in the hooey and say no to things like doctors trying to help, in favor of prayer.
When I was in high school, I think at that point I kind of realized I was an atheist though I wouldn't admit it. I was too afraid to ever admit such a feeling in the mists of the bible belt, not because I was afraid they were right but because I was afraid that if suddenly people knew I was an atheist, people would hate me without any logical reason other than they had been told to hate atheists. I didn't want to deal with the scrutiny and I didn't want to deal with the backlash my family would have faced in the community and work over having "not raised me right". I know that they would have been badgered for not going to church every Sunday to properly "teach" me about God.
Truth is, I read the Bible when I was little (I learned to use a dictionary instead of asking my mom what sodomy was, that was a fun conversation) and it just seemed crazy. Not the belief in God or the teachings of Christ, but the way it contradicted itself constantly. I didn't like how women were portrayed and how we were suppose to be "evil temptresses" in essence.
In many ways, I think that is how they justify trying to keep women "barefoot, pregnant, and in the kitchen" because with shoes, birth control, and out in the world we are a force to be reckoned with. You only need to see what has happened in the Komen debacle to understand that women are not going to just lay down and accept this. If I was a social conservative trying to force my beliefs on millions of women without their consent, I too might be a little concerned. Maybe that is the real reason the re-authorization for Violence Against Women Act has been received such a lukewarm response from Republicans when once it enjoyed broad bi-partisan support.
My relative, who out deep respect I will refrain from naming, shocked me by telling me she had to have an abortion here in the bible belt before they were legal. I am really close with her and she is obviously several decades my senior but I was talking to her about upset I was with all this business of them trying to take away our access to reproductive health care back during the government shutdown threat over planned parenthood.
She turned and looked at me and very bluntly told me that she had had to have one or else she would have turned septic and died. She went to the hospital, they told her she had had a miscarriage and sent her home. A few days, she began feeling ill and went to her provider who realized what was wrong and had the training and compassion to help her.
For me, she is a very important person in my life, and I deeply love and respect her. But she is also conservative in many ways, once a church goer, has never drank alcohol, but when it came to politics, she was progressive. I think part of this because she grew up such a short time after women were allowed to vote. She has seen the debate as it has progressed over the decades, and she is practical. Like most women, she understands why these services are necessary, not just in theory but she understands in practice.
My family would be a very different now if she had not lived, and I most certainly would not be sane. She is my personal hero and I can only hope to aspire to be as good a person as she is everyday. I am grateful to the doctors who saved her life and didn't let her die because of a miscarriage. I learned how to be a strong woman without rocking the boat (too much) from her.
I also have my own story with birth control, as I am sure every woman might in the South.
When I was 17, I had a boyfriend. My first real boyfriend in fact, and I had decided that I should probably have sex before college. I was an extreme prude and had some serious reservations about men because my education in sex consisted of being told to not get pregnant, to not have sex, and that men only wanted to knock you up. Thankfully, there were such things as the internet and the pill was common knowledge even though there are many people who would prefer it otherwise. We actually went on a field trip where a nurse showed how to put a condom on and how even the small ones fit over her shoe.
I was ignorant and scared, and I also very desperately wanted to be normal. I was already "the smart kid" and an outcast on that basis (omg you read, for fun, what a weirdo). I didn't want to enter early adulthood a virgin and a "freak" to boot. Not to mention, I was tired of being called a lesbian by my family for not dating because I didn't like any of the guys at my school.
Anyway, it was then I found the resources I needed. I wanted to know what I was getting myself into with sex. I had seen all the pictures of what you could get (thanks Mom!) and knew the consequences of sex. Sadly, no one had EVER told me the actual mechanics, not to mention I had never seen a penis except in biology (that was a big moment of, so what is wrong with being gay again when I saw it for the first time). And in case you wonder, I was scared to try and find "educational materials" online. The idea of sex kind of freaked me out.
Yes, I really was that naive, and frankly it worries me that people could be so ignorant about something that should be 101 of being a human being. I was too busy talking about books and music to worry about what happens between a man and a woman.
So, when I had a reason to go to the city in my own car, by myself, I suddenly had the freedom to make a pit stop at Planned Parenthood. Looking up abortion prices and how far I would have to drive to find someone to provide one--I realized that if I got pregnant, I was literally fucked. I had plans and ambitions, I was going to college and going to get an awesome degree with an awesome paying job (damn you Bush, ruining the plans I had worked on for my whole life to leave the bible belt).
When I went in, I really had no idea how it worked. The only gynecologist office I had ever been to, my Mom worked at. And I never got to see the doctor by myself, and he was a friend of my mom's...yeah. The free condoms in a bowl were shocking to me.
They did what I guess is the normal routine, I had just had my pap smear at my Mom's office and they wanted to do one for me to get a prescription. I burst into tears, knowing I didn't have the ability to pay it and couldn't use my family's insurance or anything. I explained my situation, telling her how just requesting my files, my Mom would know because of how that office was and I would be in trouble and be punished.
They worked with me so that I was able to get my prescription. They protected me as a patient and made me feel safe. They helped me when otherwise I would have been labelled a slut, even though there were girls on their 3rd kid in my graduating class (not that they are or were, just hypocritical).
I look at the opportunities lost to some my age because no one taught them how to treat sex as something other than a sin. And it is scary that in the information age, people are still ignorant and unable to protect their own interests.
Women's healthcare is important, but it is not so important or difficult that I can't discuss my options with my physician rather than my politician.
This is not about religious freedom.
This is not about good and evil.
This is not about "saving babies".
This is about my right to choose. My right to live my life in this country without unreasonable infringements on my liberty by the government. I have a right to be free to believe what I want and be free from anyone else trying to enforce their religious beliefs on me. I've read the bible multiple times and studied the bible in an academic setting, and there is nothing in there that leads me to believe that anyone else has any right to make decisions for me.
Supposedly we were all given free will, now if only God's fringe followers would listen to the part where it is each individual person's will.
Providing equal access to health care that is equivalent to what men get, and making it so insurance providers and employers, essentially, can't discriminate against you for having a period and wanting to have some say over your body.
I'll be happy to vote for Obama and show my support for what he is trying to accomplish in Washington, nothing short of the impossible. People seem to expect him to make miracles happen, but he can't do anything unless we demand it.
Thank you if you managed to plow through all this :D
4:38 PM PT: Thank you susanWAstate for a good idea. A link to the Planned Parenthood petition.