Tuesday, July 2, 2013

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

Posted By on Tue, Jul 2, 2013 at 9:45 AM

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Thats a whole lotta white men deciding what women get to do with their bodies.
  • Karen Kasler c/o Think Progress
  • That's a whole lotta white men deciding what women get to do with their bodies.

But Perry and his ilk don't care about the financial realities of young mothers, they only care about asserting their beliefs onto women with absolutely no regard as to what the woman wants. To call the bill Perry is trying to pass an assault on all women would not be inaccurate and, in fact, some of the language that he uses when talking about the legislative battle implies that not only does Perry feel like he's attacking women, but that he enjoys it. What other reason would he say something like “the louder they scream, the more we know that we are getting something done?" Clearly this is a man who has no problem condescending to women and feeling like he knows what's best for them, including how they should feel about the narratives of their own lives. With regards to Perry's remarks about her personal history, Davis said, "My life story is something obviously that belongs to me." And this is exactly what Perry doesn't understand, or care to understand. Wendy Davis's life belongs to her. The choices she made to get where she is belong to her. Those choices include having a child at nineteen, attending community college, continuing on to law school, running for office as a liberal in a conservative district, and standing on her own two feet for hour after hour to fight for the rights of all Texan women to be able to make their own choices—in privacy—without having men dictating what they can or can not do.

Privacy is a key concept in this debate. 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. Women's bodies are still a mystery and women's healthcare is still full of secrets. But if we want to destigmatize a woman's right to choose how to have (or not have) a family, we need to become aware of these secrets, we need to make these stories well-known. After all, every social taboo that has become accepted first had to become familiar. This has most certainly been the case with the gay rights movement, and will have to be the case with the pro-choice movement.

Last Tuesday night, as I sat at home and watched Davis and the Texas Legislature, I visited Davis's website, where there were two options in how best to support her in her fight. You could click a button to donate money, or you could click a button to donate your story. One of the ways that Davis was able to filibuster and stay on topic for so long was that she was reading aloud the personal stories of women who had abortions, or who had children at a young age, or who had medical issues that were taken care of at a public health care facility. Not only was Davis fighting for women's health, but she was attempting to make progress in the effort to shed light on the kinds of stories that most women have learned not to talk about in public. I ast at home and I thought about sharing my story. I thought about writing down that when I was nineteen and taking a year off college so that I could figure out what the fuck I wanted to do with my life (ha—as if that is something that anyone can figure out in a year), I met a guy in the bar where I worked and within three weeks of knowing him got pregnant. I was faced with a choice of my own, a choice which ultimately led me to the place I'm in today. I thought about writing it down and pressing send and adding my voice to Wendy Davis's, but I didn't.

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