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May 28 2013

Abortion on Demand and Without Apology

For Every Woman In Every State
The Reversal of Abortion and Birth Control Rights Must Stop Now!
By Sikivu Hutchinson
The following statement from the Stop Patriarchy Coalition is in response to the crisis that confronts women’s human rights, women’s self-determination, economic justice and social justice in the United States.  Last week, Christian fascist Congressman Trent Starks introduced a nationwide bill that would ban abortions after 20 weeks into the House of Representatives.  Comparing abortion to “the Holocaust and slavery”, Franks attempted to capitalize on the publicity around the trial of former abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell to elicit support for this extreme, dangerous legislation. Although the Ninth Circuit Court struck down a similar bill in Arizona last week, the recent explosion of anti-abortion and contraception legislation has fatally comprised reproductive justice and imperiled the future of women’s health care:
Abortion is an issue that divides this country. This is no accident. How one thinks and feels about abortion flows fundamentally from how one views women.
 
We recognize that women are full human beings who must have the right – through unrestricted and unstigmatized access to birth control and abortion – to decide for themselves when and whether they will have children. We reject the view that a woman’s highest purpose and fundamental “duty” is to bear children, even those she does not want or cannot care for.
 
For decades, a movement which calls itself “pro-life” has unleashed violence against abortion providers, shamed and humiliated women, and relentlessly restricted access to abortion, especially for poor women.
 
Over 80% of abortion clinics have experienced violence, threats, or harassment; eight doctors and staff have been murdered. Today, 97% of rural counties have no abortion provider. One in four poor women who seeks an abortion cannot afford it and is forced to have a child she does not want. Four states have only one abortion clinic left.
 
This assault has intensified, not slowed, under the Presidency of Obama. 2011 and 2012 saw record new legal restrictions on abortion. Already this year, 278 bills have been introduced to further restrict abortion, including laws set to go into effect that would shut down the last clinic in North Dakota on August 1. Added to this, the Obama administration has defied the FDA and challenged the courts in its determination to keep emergency contraception from many of the women and girls who most desperately need it.
 
Reproductive rights are in a state of emergency.
 
If this direction is not reversed, women face being returned to the situation that prevailed for millennia – until only very recently – being forced to subordinate their dreams to have children against their will, or to risk their lives to avoid this. We are headed towards a situation like that in El Salvador where women face long imprisonment for abortion and where nurses and doctors must either turn women in or risk being imprisoned themselves.
 
This assault on the right to choose abortion is not driven by “concern for babies” or women. The fact is, this “pro-life”movement stands unanimous in its opposition to birth control and comprehensive sex education, the most effective means of preventing unwanted pregnancies. Republican leaders in this movement have fanned hatred of women by shaming women who have sex, belittling the monstrous crime of rape, and in other ways.
 
The truth is: Fetuses are NOT babies. Abortion is NOT murder. Women are NOT incubators.
 
For too long, millions have watched in alarm as yesterday’s outrageous and unthinkable attack has become today’s “compromise position” and tomorrow’s limit of what can be imagined. This dynamic must be broken. The political leaders of the Democratic Party cannot be relied on to do this. While posing as the last bastion of defense against these attacks, these “leaders” have in fact seriously undermined reproductive rights by seeking “common ground” with fascists and religious fanatics, by ceding the moral high ground, by severing abortion from women’s emancipation and by refusing to stand up when abortion providers are murdered.
 
We must rely on ourselves. We call on people everywhere to:
  • defend abortion providers who are under attack
  • speak openly and positively about abortion, including their own
  • mobilize mass protest against every new attack wherever it takes place
  • find the ways to come together to wage a determined fight to defeat this entire war on women
 
This July and August, there will be an abortion rights caravan traveling across this country to many places where attacks are most severe, including being in North Dakota on August 1st when new laws are set to go into effect that would criminalize abortion after six weeks and shut down the last clinic in the state. We support this action as well as other efforts across the country to defend abortion providers and defeat similar laws in other states. We pledge to resist and call on all who care about freedom, justice, and women’s lives to do the same!
Forced motherhood is female enslavement.
Abortion On Demand and Without Apology!
To add your name to this statement see:http://www.stoppatriarchy.org/abortionondemandstatement.html

33 comments

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  1. 1
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Last week, Christian fascist

    OMFSM!! HOW DARE YOU CALL A RIGHT-WING EXTREMIST A FASCIST?! Don’t you know that fascism is a well-defined political ideology? He can’t be fascist if he’s not a Real Nazi!!! Why, such radical language, you must be a socialist!

    (Brought to you by Radical Right Denialist Silencing Tactics, Inc., established 1979.)

  2. 2
    Kilian Hekhuis

    “Fetuses are NOT babies. Abortion is NOT murder. Women are NOT incubators.” – While I strongly agree with the last statement, and in most cases with the second, the first one is a matter of definition, and like all definitions not set in stone. What society wants or does not want to call “baby” is up for debate.

    1. 2.1
      Ted Powell

      What society wants or does not want to call “baby” is up for debate.

      Can you not appreciate that the assertion “Fetuses are NOT babies” is a contribution to that debate?

      Would you prefer something wishy-washy like “Fetuses are NOT what are commonly recognized as babies”? To me, it does not have the same punch. You need to hone your debating skills—assuming that you’re on the article-writer’s side in this matter, that is.

  3. 3
    Jackie

    Kilian, nope. Abortion is not murder. Fetuses are not babies. Those are facts and facts are not debatable.

    1. 3.1
      Kilian Hekhuis

      Those are words the definitions of which are always debatable. There is no “fact” about what a word means. A word means what the majority of people want it to mean. Then there’s the legal side. But laws can be changed. The central issue here is a woman’s right to chose. Not whether or not a fetus is/is not a baby.

  4. 4
    kevinalexander

    As a matter of definition you would have to say what differentiates human from non human and that is your mind Without it you are meat. Do you remember when you were a baby? No? It’s because you weren’t there. You don’t get a mind until sometime after you are born and that develops all of your life until near the end where you lose it.

    Your typical abortion opponent will have a bible handy. Get her to read Genesis where god breathed life into Adam. Most folk psychology would see the difference between the quick and the dead as a matter of breath so that was thought of as the soul.
    A foetus is not a baby.

  5. 5
    GJ

    #2- “What society wants or does not want to call a ‘baby’ is up for debate.”

    This “society” has also determined that women should have no say in this so calked “debate”. So until we get an equal voice in the matter, there is no real “debate”. There is only tyrannical patriarchy.

  6. 6
    SallyStrange

    Babies breathe air. Fetuses do not. It’s a pretty clear line of demarcation.

    1. 6.1
      Kilian Hekhuis

      “Babies breathe air. Fetuses do not. It’s a pretty clear line of demarcation.” Yes, but that is just one definition of what’s what. All I’m saying is that definitions may change.

  7. 7
    sundoga

    Don’t necessarily agree with this group on everything, but glad to help in this instance.

  8. 8
    freemage

    The chief problem with “fetuses aren’t babies” isn’t whether or not it’s accurate. It’s that it allows the anti-rights crowd to fight the battle on turf of their choosing. You end up with hair-splitting arguments about infants on respirators and other absurd distractions, when in truth, it doesn’t matter if a fetus is a non-sentient blob, a baby or a full-grown human being with a ‘soul’. Even if it were an adult, that adult would have no right to claim the blood, tissue and physiological stress on the mother’s body that pregnancy induces against her will. Anti-abortion is pro-slavery, and there’s no two ways about it.

    The proper reaction to, “It’s a person!” is to say, “There’s a person with your blood type right now who needs a damn kidney. Get on the table, we’re taking yours.”

  9. 9
    sathyalacey

    Really, the definition between fetus and baby is irrelevant. Also, your point that that statement is dependant on definitions, which can change from society to society, can easily be made for “abortion is not murder” – if a society chooses to do so, they can reclassify it as such. Hell, they could reclassify killing animals as murder if they want. And the same is true for “women are not incubators” – well, a society could redefine women as exactly that. It doesn’t it right. However, I believe that the point that is being made is, “In a free and just society, we should not consider fetuses to be equivalent to babies, or consider abortion to be a type of murder, nor should we treat women as incubators, which necessarily follows if you violate the first two” – but the short version is catchier.

    No living human should be required to provide sustenance against their will from their own body to any other human life, whether that life is viable or not. Requiring women to keep fetuses, babies, meatsacks, or whatever you want to call them alive with their own bodies is little different from requiring any human alive to forcibly have their excess organs donated. Who am I to deny life to someone in desperate need of a kidney? I’ve got two! That person is undoubtedly a full-fledged sentient individual, and here I am, lording my ability to live over them. I should be required to undergo expensive surgery, at my expense, to keep them alive. If we choose to criminalize abortion, we should criminalize any human living their life at the expense of another human’s life.

    1. 9.1
      Ted Powell

      However, I believe that the point that is being made is, “In a free and just society, we should not consider fetuses to be equivalent to babies, or consider abortion to be a type of murder, nor should we treat women as incubators, which necessarily follows if you violate the first two” – but the short version is catchier.

      Hear! Hear! Well said!

      The short version fits better on a sign, too! :-)

    2. 9.2
      Kilian Hekhuis

      “In a free and just society, we should not consider fetuses to be equivalent to babies, or consider abortion to be a type of murder, nor should we treat women as incubators”

      In case it wasn’t clear, I wholeheartedly agree with this.

      1. SallyStrange

        It wasn’t clear. Maybe you should hold off on the definition-quibbling and hair-splitting next time you’re in a conversation that revolves around ongoing violations of human rights.

  10. 10
    Elly

    I signed and donated.

    I had an elective, first-trimester abortion when I was 22. My then-boyfriend (and current husband – 33 years and still going strong) and I were emotionally and financially unready to raise a child. In fact, at that point in our lives, we were pretty sure that we didn’t want children at all. As such, I was grateful for that abortion services were readily available: there was no stigma attached to the process.

    Nor should there be. I had no qualms about it at the time, and – three+ decades later – I have exactly zero regrets.

    I am often struck by pro-birthers’ obsession with the lives lost – to me, this is bass-ackwards, since my abortion ultimately resulted in two lives gained in the form of my son and daughter, who were planned for and born 10 & 13 years later – at a time when we were mature, had good jobs/health insurance and money in the bank.

    Suffice it to say, having a child at 22 would have put me on a wholly different life path: one which would have impacted the decisions that led to my existing children. Thus, to regret the “baby” I didn’t have, would be to regret the ones that I did – something I cannot do, since I love them more than life itself.

    As such, abortion on demand is something I wholeheartedly support: my daughter has a right to the same choices that I was able to make.

    1. 10.1
      blackskeptics

      Thank you — that is the linchpin of the issue. The real lives of real women in real communities having the ultimate human right to self-determine and to control their destinies, bodies and self-hood without the fascist criminal threat of theocratic, state and patriarchal intervention. We must rigorously confront and deconstruct the term “fetuses are babies” because that is the silencing propaganda that the pro-death anti-abortion extremists use. Time and again we hear it parroted and trotted out by young people in classroom discourse to silence and shame young women who speak out in favor of choice, abortion, reproductive justice and women’s rights.

      1. Elly

        My pleasure. I don’t mind sharing my story, since a) I’m not the least bit ashamed by it; and b) it’s important to puncture another narrative promoted by the pro-birthers: that women who have abortions ultimately regret doing so. On the contrary, it was the right decision for me, and 100% supported by my BF/husband, who – incidentally – exerted NO pressure whatsoever. He stated at the time that he would support whatever decision I made, and with three decades of marriage behind us, I think I can say with some confidence that he wasn’t lying to me.

        The culture of shame the pro-birthers’ have been able to promote over women’s reproductive health in general infuriates me. My own mother (born in 1920, now deceased) was quite candid with me about her own sexual history, which included two (doctor-provided) premarital abortions. She was ardently pro-birth control, to the point of signing permission forms for me to obtain it from our family medical provider (Kaiser Permanente), should I desire it. I was 14 at the time, and not even remotely sexually-active. But I was honored by the confidence she had in my ability to make adult decisions: so much so that I did not actually engage in sexual activity until I became a legal adult.

        The fact that contraception is under fire today would have Mom rolling in her grave.

        I have been similarly upfront with my own kids, who are now 23 and 20, respectively. They attended school in SE Ohio and were subjected to “abstinence only” education… suffice it to say, there was no way I was going to let that BS go unchallenged. I think they’d agree that they’re the better for it.

        1. opposablethumbs

          Similar-ish history here (oh, and I signed too – saw the post on Pharyngula).
          I had two contraceptive failures in my twenties, and was and still am perfectly happy with the decision to have two abortions (hell, make that extremely happy – I still remember the relief!). This was free of charge and largely free of bother, thanks to having the good fortune to live in a part of the world where this is not turned into a problem by religious RWAs. Decades later, and coincidentally still with the same bloke, both my kids know themselves to be loved and wanted – and they know that if they or a partner were ever in the situation of needing an abortion they would have their parents’ support.
          .
          There is no such thing as having “a little bit of bodily autonomy”; a person’s body is their own, and no life-form (whether that be a tumour or other cluster of cells, a parasite, or anything up to and including a sentient adult human) has the right to use someone’s body as a life-support system at enormous and potentially life-and-health-threatening cost to that person. We may choose to use our bodies as such a life-support system, but that’s the whole point – it’s our choice. No-one else’s.
          .
          I don’t see the RWAs and religidiots agitating and harassing and trying to make it legally binding on men (such as fathers, for example) to donate blood or organs even to their own relatives. Continuing a pregnancy is (eh, in practical reality “should be”) every bit as much a free and unconstrained choice as donating bone marrow, a kidney …

  11. 11
    Tom Bresnahan

    Obviously the unequivocal embrace and defense of all rights of all women is foundational to raising the human world to the actual level of human dignity that we owe ourselves, if for no other reason than that women constitute slightly more than half the human population.

  12. 12
    =8)-DX

    On the site: “PORN fuels RAPE”
    Bullshit, I support abortion on demand and many of the other goals, but this is just bullshit.

    1. 12.1
      sundoga

      This is the area I also find problematic. However, this petition has no anti-porn aspect, and nothing says you have to support all of the goals of an organization in order to support one.

    2. 12.2
      Kilian Hekhuis

      Well, mainstream porn typically depicts women in submissive positions, which could lead to men developing or strengthening sexist or misogynist views. Some rape, no doubt, is fueled by sexist and/or misogynist views, so I think it’s too easy to dismiss it as “bullshit”. Porn may also well fuel rape culture, even if it isn’t the primary cause of it.

      1. sundoga

        I don’t entirely disagree. But I have also seen female dominant porn, equal and loving porn, and pleasently neutral porn. To tar all porn with one brush is a tad inaccurate, regardless of the brush.

  13. 13
    WMDKitty -- Survivor

    Signed.

  14. 14
    Owen

    Signed too. Autonomy for all!

  15. 15
    Andrea Strong

    Hey, my thanks, and thanks on behalf of Stop Patriarchy, and women everywhere to Sikivu Hutchinson for posting this! Was reading through the comments, and since I’m involved with Stop Patriarchy, wanted to let people know a few things, and join in some of the political discussion that’s happening here.

    This is an historic moment in the abortion wars, and when you read the statement, you get a taste of the level of emergency that women are to a large degree already facing, even before Roe v. Wade has been officially overturned. What happened with Gosnell will continue to happen as long as abortion is stigmatized and inaccessible. Already eight abortion doctors and staff assassinated, those that are still alive and practising are hounded and terrorized by death threats. 97% of rural counties are without an abortion provider, clinics and the women that try to get to the clinics under constant attack by these anti’s, medical students entering the field are not trained in this basic and common procedure unless they decide to seek out that training, a religious takeover through mergers of secular hospitals that impose ‘ethical directives’ (notably a denial of abortion and birth control) on their patients, and there are 5 states that are down to one clinic for the entire state. Not to mention the legal restrictions and and in some places the state mandated, but medically unnecessary, vaginal penetration by ultrasound probe.

    North Dakota is poised to become the first open slave state for women with the passing of the fetal heartbeat law, which outlaws abortion after 6 weeks: before most women know they are pregnant. And there is another law set to go into effect in ND that would require the abortion dr.s to have hospital admitting privileges at the local hospital- which they will not be able to get, since they travel from out of state to provide abortions to women in ND. Mississippi may actually beat North Dakota in being the first openly slave state for women, because the hospital admittance law that passed there is currently under appeal, and the clinic stays open only because of an injunction from the judge.

    All of this is why Stop Patriarchy is determined to confront and rally others that agree with us to confront: the woman-haters in the heartland, and to rally support from across the country for those that have been courageously providing women with this right. Abortion is an essential right for women to be able to determine the course of their lives, and on a societal level makes the difference between women being reduced to breeders of children, or whether they are treated as full human beings- capable of full equality in every realm. Did the slave system of the south get defeated by those that abhorred and wanted to abolish slavery stepping back, and trying to win with compromise? NO. Did the original freedom riders want to see an end to Jim Crow segregation so deeply that they were willing to put everything on the line for that aim. YES. That is why we are launching these Abortion Rights Freedom Rides, this summer. If we wait any longer, how many women will suffer and even die needlessly? That’s what this battle is about at it’s core, and that’s why we say: Abortion On Demand and Without Apology. Forced Motherhood is Female Enslavement. Fetuses Are NOT Babies, Abortion is NOT Murder, and Women Are NOT Incubators!

    In line with the aim to fully liberate women, those working on this initiative (the full name of which is End Pornography and Patriarchy: The Enslavement and Degradation of Women) see pornography as incredibly harmful and utterly dehumanizing, to all women, on a societal level. Pornography is different than sex, different than erotica, and please- if you use the free speech argument, recognize that you are literally turning women’s bodies and lives into the “speech” of pornographers. What of the rights of women to be free of pornography, and the ideas that saturate society with the sexualized degradation of women? What of the rights of girls and women that are prostituted, and those that are sold, tricked, kidnapped, or trafficked into literal slavery? What does it say about society when the most popular type of porn is GANG RAPE porn? And what does it say when the social phenomena of rape and gang rape includes posting of pictures and videos online, to the degree that people that encounter a woman being raped may be more likely to whip out their cell phones to capture the moment on film instead of intervening to STOP the rape?

    If you care about the lives of half of humanity, than you should want to get into and analyse from an objective viewpoint what porn means in terms of the majority of women’s lives, and what choices society has already set up for women to “choose” from. See the documentary The Price of Pleasure, read what Gail Dines has written, read the book Big Porn Inc. And to clarify, our mission is NOT to lobby for anti-porn laws…Read the mission statement in the last few paragraphs in our Call to Action on our website: stoppatriarchy.org

    And if you really are pro-porn, or if you haven’t decided what you think, don’t let that stop you from signing the Abortion On Demand Statement. The statement itself is not directly “tied” to being anti-pornography. We will not make the mistake of siding with the woman-hating christian fascists on anti-pornography grounds, and you should not make the mistake of not signing this because you think we are wrong about pornography.

    Those who have signed already, THANK YOU. It does make a difference for people to sign, and please forward this statement widely. If you have connections to prominent people of conscience: actors, authors, musicians, atheists, scientists, progressive religious leaders, we want them to know about and sign onto this statement. Also, what we are able to do this summer depends on how much money we are able to raise….Double the THANKS to those that donated already! We are estimating between $80,000 and $100,000 is what it will take to buy ad space in the local papers in ND and MS to print this statement, to post our slogans on billboards, to fund those that are willing to go on this freedom ride, to cover legal costs as they arise, and to get lots of materials to distribute. We want people to travel in the caravan with us, to meet up and come out to protest in Bismarck, Fargo, Wichita, and Jackson, to do sex-ed and abortion teach-ins at the fake clinics, to defend the clinics, and rally support for providers. And all along the way we want to leave behind chapters of Stop Patriarchy to continue this fight after this summer, and until the tide is turned in favor of women. We will be announcing dates and locations, keep informed through our website and blog, and contact us if you are able to help with anything I’ve mentioned!

  16. 16
    Kilian Hekhuis

    Btw, something for the blog maintainers: the “Goodreads reviews for Moral Combat” area is laid out on top of some of the comments (and on the main page the blog text) in at least IE and Chrome.

    1. 16.1
      opposablethumbs

      In firefox too! I thought it was just me …

  17. 17
    gwen

    People don’t seem to recognize, or don’t care that illegal back alley abortions was one of the top causes of the death of women of childbearing age, UP TO the passage of abortion legalization in 1973. Women got abortions before they were legal, they were just more likely to die in the process. I wish the living children of those women who died trying to control their bodies would stand up and be heard. I’m afraid it is such a stigma, it won’t happen.

  18. 18
    noxiousnan

    Andrea Strong @15

    We will not make the mistake of siding with the woman-hating christian fascists on anti-pornography grounds, and you should not make the mistake of not signing this because you think we are wrong about pornography.

    This convinced me. Signed.

  19. 19
    noxiousnan

    Gwen, yes, that would be helpful, though many may not know to this day, another death shrouded in mystery.

    TW-abortion death: My mother told me of a classmate that died on her second, self-given abortion. She’d used knitting needles both times.

  20. 20
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    Enthusiastically signed.

  1. 21
  2. 22
    Because It’s In My Craw, Answers To Anti-Choicers | Meddling Kids

    [...] BABIES!”), and then I read a post on Black Skeptics from the day before yesterday entitled Abortion on Demand and Without Apology that I think coincides nicely with my own thoughts. I encourage you to read [...]

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