Planned Parenthood has released a fabulous video response to the notorious Tim Tebow Focus on the Family advertisement that is slated to air during the Superbowl. The Planned Parenthood ad features former college and professional football player Sean James and gold medalist Al Joyner delivering a beautifully feminist message:
“Only women can make the best decisions about their health and future…We celebrate families by supporting our mothers. By supporting our daughters. By trusting women.”
This message of choices– and the acknowledgment that Mrs. Tebow’s decision not to terminate her pregnancy was a choice itself- is clearly a direct response to the criticism the Tebow ad received. Sure, Focus on the Family is anti-choice, but the push to pull the ad is counter-productive. What both Focus on the Family and Planned Parenthood are expressing is the need to “protect the right of women like Pam Tebow to make their private reproductive choices.” And hurrah to Planned Parenthood for doing so in a positive, pro-choice manner!
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As Julia mentioned, today is the Fifth Annual Blog For Choice Day and we’ve been given the task of answering “What does ‘Trust Women’ mean to you?”
Here’s my go at it-
As I reflect on the meaning of Dr. Tiller’s favorite slogan on this 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, it occurs to me that this is not about abortion. It was never was about abortion. It never will be about abortion. What we are fighting for– and what Dr. Tiller simply, silently, and courageously requested through the pin on his lapel–was choice, freedom, autonomy, equality, trust.
Our nation, one made by and for adult citizens, has become one imagined only for fetuses and children, where a mass cultural fixation has turned women into children and babies into citizens. All citizens are not created equal and our rights are not freely granted. This is evident in the legislation that forces women to view ultrasound images, get consent from a parent or spouse, or wait twenty-four hours after having traveled hundreds of miles before they may terminate their pregnancy. This can be seen in the ability of pharmacists to deny a woman her birth control. This is obvious in the literature of Crisis Pregnancy Centers and pro-life organizations which falsely and frighteningly suggests that women are more likely to contemplate suicide after having an abortion. It is clear in the prevailing attitudes, practices, and policies make clear that women are not, and should not be, responsible for themselves.
But to trust women and their ability to decide what they want with their bodies is not a simple matter if more choices do not exist. Beyond abortion, we need the opportunity to educate, to provide safe homes and communities, to access health care, to have affordable childcare, to see family planning or STD clinics, and to receive equal pay for equal work.
We must not only trust women to make decisions but we must also afford them with the opportunities to do so. I trust women to make the decision that they feel is best for themselves, their families, and their lives, but that decision can only be a real decision when choices exist.
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Today marks the 37th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision ruling that the right to privacy under the 14th Amendment is “broad enough to encompass a woman’s decision whether or not to terminate a pregnancy.” In the decades since, legislative attacks on this right have whittled away at a woman’s right to corporal autonomy. Like so many other government actions, these attacks have disproportionately impacted lower-class women (think: Hyde Amendment). In honor of Dr. George Tiller, a clinic physician who was murdered last June, NARAL Pro Choice America asks bloggers to answer the following question:
What does ‘Trust Women’ mean to you?
I interpret “trust women” to simply mean that no one – not the government, not anti-choicers, not your religion – has the right to dictate what you do with your body. I grew up in a liberal household, and even with a relatively strong Catholic family, I always learned that no higher authority should be able to dictate what goes on in your body. When I was in high school, I came across this thought experiment that completely shifted my consciousness and rendered me a staunch pro-choice advocate:
Anti-abortion activists protect a fetus above the rights of the mother. But what if that fetus is female (not to mention gay, or disabled, etc.)? In this case, the fetus has more rights in the womb than it will EVER have once it is born.
My right to live was more important when I was in the womb than it is now if I were to become pregnant. Anti-choicers staunchly defend a fetus’s personhood, but when that fetus becomes a woman, suddenly she is just a vessel for reproduction. This hypocrisy set me on a life-long course towards legally protecting a woman’s right to choose and to protect the civil liberties of all citizens.
In order for Roe v. Wade to work effectively, however, every woman needs to have access to accurate information. So included in my devotion to choice is also my support of transparent and comprehensive sex-ed programs, the protection of abortion clinics, and progressive sexual advice sites, like Scarleteen. Upholding Roe v. Wade also means advocating for abortion rights in the current health care debate, and refusing to allow politicians to throw women under the bus for the sake of their corporate affiliations or re-election campaigns. I don’t want to live in a society where the autonomy of 52% of the population is subordinated to the will of religious zealots or corrupt politicians.
I trust women not because I am a woman, but because every citizen should have the moral agency to make personal decisions.
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Our thoughts are with the thousands affected by Tuesday’s massive earthquake in Haiti. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had moving words to describe the devastation:
It is Biblical, the tragedy that continues to haunt Haiti and the Haitian people. It is so tragic. They had the four hurricanes last year.
We had a good plan. We were just feeling positive about how we could implement that plan. It was U.S., U.N., international. We had donors lined up. We had private businesses beginning to make investments. There was so much hope about Haiti’s future, hope that had not been present for years. And along comes Mother Nature and just flattens it.
MSNBC has compiled a list of charitable organizations accepting contributions for recovery efforts. Those marked by an asterisk have Haiti-specific pages on their websites:
, 212-352-0552, or text ‘YELE’ to ‘501501′and a donation will be made and charged to your cell phone bill.*
You can also text ‘HAITI’ to ‘90999′ to give a donation of $10 to the Red Cross, charged to your cell phone bill through the U.S. State Department.
If a monetary donation is not an option for you, please keep talking, blogging, and staying up to date. It’s important to keep Haiti on the tip of everyone’s tongues.
And in response to Pat Robertson’s atrocious remarks regarding the disaster and “the Devil”, I think Rachel Maddow said it best: Pat Robertson is the unintended consequence of your First Amendment rights.
Ed. Note: In case any senior government officials are reading of Heart and Mind internationally, Ezra Klein cited another great way for us to help Haiti late yesterday- consider canceling their debt.
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Dear Fellow Vagina Warriors,
The Vagina Monologues is an international phenomenon that celebrates women’s sexuality and strength through humor and grace while raising funds for anti-violence groups worldwide. For the past seven years Elizabeth’s school, Connecticut College, has performed The Vagina Monologues in order to spread the importance of female empowerment and respect. This year, she will be performing in the College’s production.
National studies show that one out of every four female college students will be sexually assaulted during her four years at college. We, as Vagina Warriors, find this statistic unacceptable. The Vagina Monologues is our call to action.
This performance has facilitated discussion and awareness of these important issues both on individual college campuses and in the global community. Yet violence against women remains not a widely publicized or well-funded cause.
The Women’s Center of Southeastern Connecticut (WCSEC) in New London, CT recently lost the funding necessary to remain open 24 hours a day. The Connecticut College production of The Vagina Monologues seeks to change this. Last year, approximately $7,500 was donated to WCSEC on behalf of Conn’s production. This year, Elizabeth and the other CC Vagina Warriors seek to match or exceed that number in proceeds. Seventy-five percent of the revenue from the CC production will go to the WCSEC and twenty-five percent to the V-Day Spotlight Fund: Power to the Women and Girls of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
We would greatly appreciate any financial help that you could offer in support of this wonderful event. Elizabeth is in the process of rehearsing, advertising, and fundraising for the show and has been working with a fantastic group of women to ensure yet another wonderful CC production. If you’re in the area, attend a performance on February 19th or 20th at 7:00pm in Evans Hall, Cumming Arts Center at Connecticut College. If you can’t make Elizabeth’s show, we urge you to find a production near you and participate in this extraordinary cause.
Elizabeth and Julia
Donations may be sent to:
The Vagina Monologues
c/o Elizabeth Holland, Box 3782
270 Mohegan Ave
New London, CT 06320
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