Don't Tell Me What to Do: Abortion Rights, Teenage Pregnancy, and The Battleground of a Woman's Body

07/02/2013 9:45 AM |

No, my body is not any of your business, you creep.
  • No, my body is not any of your business, you creep.

In the lastest news addressing what a woman can and can’t decide to do with her own body, the governor of Ohio recently signed into law a bill which will, among other things, “strip funding from rape crisis centers that give their clients any information about abortion services, impose harsh restrictions on abortion clinics that will force many of them to shut down, and require doctors to give women seeking abortion information about the presence of a ‘fetal heartbeat.’” And then, of course, Governor Rick Perry of Texas is still attempting to pass the same restrictive legislation that failed last week due to the inspiring filibuster of State Senator Wendy Davis. Despite the fact that thousands of pro-choice activists protested in Austin on Monday, there is a good chance that the legislation will pass eventually, especially considering that the Lieutenant Governor of Texas, David Dewhurst, had this to say: “We’re not going to get it back from the House within filibuster range. We’re going to make sure that we’ve got plenty of time, and no human being can talk for two weeks.” That’s right. “We’re going to make sure…no human being can talk for two weeks.” So not only are Dewhurst, Perry, and the rest of the conservative members of the Texas State legislature trying to silence women when it comes to both reproductive freedoms and government participation, but they are outright crowing about it. How much more patronizing and despicable can these men be?

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Well, plenty. Plenty more despicable. Obviously. Just last week, Rick Perry, speaking at the National Right to Life Convention (where he incidentally also said “no life is trivial in God’s eyes” just hours after an execution took place), decided to attack Wendy Davis personally, saying, “Even the woman who filibustered the Senate the other day was born into difficult circumstances. She was the daughter of a single woman, she was a teenage mother herself. She managed to eventually graduate from Harvard Law School and serve in the Texas senate. It is just unfortunate that she hasn’t learned from her own example that every life must be given a chance to realize its full potential and that every life matters.” That’s right. Perry—a man who can’t even count to three—presumed to say that a Harvard Law graduate “hasn’t learned from her own example.” This guy. This guy!

Davis responded by saying that Perry’s statement “is without dignity and tarnishes the high office he holds. They are small words that reflect a dark and negative point of view.” And, of course, she is absolutely right. Perry’s remarks are indicative of nothing more than a man who lives life with blinders on, a condescending man who sees the issue of abortion in such a binary way that he doesn’t even believe it should be an option in cases of rape or incest. But beyond that, Perry’s remarks also betray how little he understands about what it actually means to be a mother—teenage or otherwise—in a state (and country, frankly) that doesn’t provide adequate support for parents in lower income brackets. Perry’s implication that because Davis, who is by all accounts an extraordinary woman, was able to go from being a single mother to a graduate of Harvard Law School, then anyone can do it. But he doesn’t take into account the fact that, when Davis was beginning her education, there was more government money for community colleges and students could take out loans without tens of thousands of dollars hanging in debt over their heads, and, oh yeah, Planned Parenthood funding hadn’t been so completely dismantled that low-income women have practically no options for affordable healthcare while pregnant.

5 Comment

  • Kristen, I’ve been a fan of your writing for a long time. Thanks for writing this. I’ve been seeing red since last week, which makes it exceedingly to say anything coherent about Rick Perry at all.

  • Iverson says:
    So not only are Dewhurst, Perry, and the rest of the conservative members of the Texas State legislature trying to silence women when it comes to both reproductive freedoms and government participation, but they are outright crowing about it.

    Silence? What makes some people claim the legislative process itself, the democratic actions at the heart of our government, is something else? The “else” being some kind of oppressive machinery that gags those whose arguments aren’t persuasive enough to win a majority of votes?

    Iverson says:
    How much more patronizing and despicable can these men be?

    The sign of a first-rate debater is her quick descent into ad hominem assaults on those with whom she disagrees.

  • Iverson says:

    “Perry…a condescending man who sees the issue of abortion in such a binary way that he doesn’t even believe it should be an option in cases of rape or incest. “

    Firar, more invective. Second, no logic. Just like you can’t be a little bit pregnant, you can’t be a little bit un-pregnant.

    Iverson says:
    “But beyond that, Perry’s remarks also betray how little he understands about what it actually means to be a mother—teenage or otherwise—in a state (and country, frankly) that doesn’t provide adequate support for parents in lower income brackets. “

    Based on the preceding, apparently Iverson believes pregnancy and parenthood should entitle a person to a paycheck. Is it news to anyone that the more you pay people to fornicate, the more they’ll do it?

  • Iverson says:
    “Privacy is a key concept in this debate.”

    It’s the law according to HIPAA, which adds more headaches to the situation.

    Iverson says:
    “One of the reasons that women’s health issues are capable of creating so much controversy is because much of what is being debated is whispered about between family and friends and occurs behind closed doors. ”

    Behind closed doors? Silly me. I thought women’s healthcare and abortion was discussed in every media venue, every court, every blog and almost every setting where more than one person can be found.

    Iverson says:
    “Women’s bodies are still a mystery and women’s healthcare is still full of secrets. “

    Mystery? Women’s bodies? Who are you trying to kid? Secrets? What secrets about women’s healthcare exist?
    Really? Do you just make this stuff up as you go along?

  • Thank you for sharing your story. One of the things that frustrates me the most about anti-choice politicians and advocates is their complete lack of compassion and concern for the women making these choices, and the circumstances that contribute to WHY they make these choices.