For this class, the readings focused upon women’s health and reproductive rights, most specifically, abortion.
In Judith Arcana’s “Abortion Is a Motherhood issue”, she writes that often abortion and miscarriage, contraception and adoption are all talked about separate from motherhood. There can be many reasons for this separation, but she says that we forget that abortion is one way that mothers are taking care of their children. She discusses the difference between “baby” and “embryo/fetus” as the difference between “accepted/wanted” and “accident/rejected”. As she says “choosing to abort a child is a profoundly made life choice for that child… and whatever our religious teachings or spiritual commitments, we have never not known that choosing to abort our babies is a dreadful responsibility”. She has all of this experience as not only someone who has had an abortion, a miscarriage, and a son, but as someone who worked in the Abortion Counseling service in Chicago. As she writes, we need to accept and recognize our abortions, talk about them and our feelings, but ultimately take responsibility no matter whether we are happy about it or regretful.
“And So I Chose” by Allison Crews, discusses the job of a woman who works on a feminist teen mothers website. She herself grew up in a pro-life home and used to go and protest in front of Planned Parenthood, etc. with these pro-life sentiments. However, there was one point where she saw a young girl go in and out of the center and her life changed forever. Crews herself became pregnant in her sophomore year of high school. Though she was scared and had scheduled several appointments for abortions, she never went through with them, and decided to keep the baby. She figured that she would find acceptance and encouragement on websites such as the one that she works for now, yet was made fun of as an irresponsible teenager. Everyone around her thought she was too young and girly to give birth without help or drugs and she proved them wrong, and similarly a couple was chosen to adopt her child. She now is pro-choice, supporting the idea that women should make decisions for themselves when it comes to having children and getting abortions; she believes that as women, we have many rights.
Inga Muscio wrote “Abortion, Vacuum Cleaners and the Power Within”. She is adamantly against abortion as someone who has gone through several of the procedures and refers to it as a vacuum cleaner; useful for cleaning up messes. She tried many organic ways to abort her baby, and they actually worked. As she said, “healing starts from within” and as she went through all of her experiences came to believe that “the real fight for human rights is inside each and every individual on this earth”. And, while she thanks the people that worked so hard for women to have this choice available to them, she feels that female discussion groups, one of the focuses of the women’s health movement, would really be beneficial, because then “abortion would be a personal, intimate thing among friends” rather than us having this ongoing abortion debate.
Finally, in Feminism in Our Time, there is a section devoted to the Roe vs. Wade Court Decision. In Texas in the 1960’s, abortion was illegal except in the case of saving the life of the pregnant woman. Three women, McCorvey, Coffee, and Weddington got together in an abortion lawsuit. In 1970 they filed a suit challenging Texas’ constitutionality on their antiabortion law, and other states similar laws. In the end, it was decided 7 to 2 that women indeed do have the right to an abortion during the first trimester and have mildly limited rights in the second trimester. It has ever since been called “a major contribution to the preservation of individual liberties”. The rest of the section includes details about the Constitution and the amendments, as well as a history of abortion laws, among them the question of when a fetus is recognized as a “person”.