Abortion: Stigmatized and Endangered

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by Sunsara Taylor

We are fast approaching the 40-year anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion on January 22, 1973. Yet, the stark reality is that despite its formal legality, abortion is more stigmatized, more dangerous to provide, and more difficult to access than at any time in the last 40 years.

And the further reality is this: If we do not reverse this trajectory soon—very soon—we will lose this right and condemn future generations of women and girls to forced motherhood, to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame.

Now some people—in fact, all too many people—believe that abortion is safe because Obama was re-elected.

REALLY??!?

In recent decades doctors and clinic staff have been stalked, terrorized, threatened, kidnapped, blown up, and violently assaulted. As recently as three years ago—yes, when Obama was president—Dr. George Tiller was cruelly murdered as he worshiped in church. And neither Obama, nor any other politician, nor any leader of the major “women’s organizations” showed their face at his funeral.

Does that sound “safe” to you?

Clinics have been bombed, set on fire, blockaded, vandalized, disrupted, picketed, and invaded thousands of times. Women are verbally harassed, spat upon, shoved and insulted in other ways in weekly “vigils” by these fanatics, and sometimes more often than that. And this goes on all over the country.

Does that sound “safe” to you?

More than one in four poor women who seek abortions cannot afford one and end up burdened with a child against their will. Women who are able to scrounge up the money must run a gauntlet of extreme and medically unnecessary restrictions from mandatory waiting periods to parental notification laws to being forced to endure a probe inserted into their vaginas, and more. Today, 97% of rural counties do not have an abortion provider. And whole generations have grown up never having heard anyone speak of abortion as something positive and moral.

Does that sound like the right to abortion—which is the only guarantee that women can actually determine when and if they will raise a child—is “safe” to you?

Every step along the way, Obama has insisted on seeking “common ground” with the most rabid anti-abortion Christian fascists—going so far as to welcome Timothy Dolan, the Catholic Archbishop who spearheaded a recent rebellion against birth control, to give the closing prayer at the last Democratic National Convention. He upheld the decision of his Secretary of Health to ban the sale of “morning-after birth control” to women without a prescription. His health care plan will actually make it more difficult to get coverage for abortion. And under Obama in 2011, 92 restrictions were passed on abortion throughout the country, almost three times the previous record of 34 in one year under Bush.

Does that—does any of this—sound like the right to abortion is “safe” to you?

No. Admit it and look it in the eye: the right to abortion is not safe at all; it is extremely extremely endangered! And, in some ways, the most dangerous thing of all is that people refuse to face this!

There is a reason the “pro-life” movement is so puffed up these days. There is a reason they are introducing bolder and more restrictive and more vindictive legislation—openly insisting on no abortions and no exceptions, even for rape victims or to save the life of the woman. The reason is that they are winning.

Again, as I said at the outset: If we do not reverse this trajectory soon—very soon—we will lose this right and condemn future generations of women and girls to FORCED motherhood, against their wills, and to lives of open enslavement, terror, and life-crushing shame.

And the only way to do that is through massive, uncompromising resistance—beginning now, this month, on the 40th anniversary of the decision that finally legalized the right to abortion... that basic and fundamental right that is now under assault.

This article originally appeared in Revolution newspaper in the January 6, 2012 edition.

Main Reproductive Rights Abortion: Stigmatized and Endangered