Thursday, January 04, 2007

What Women Want

By Kelley Bell

Syndicated columnist and conservative pundit Cal Thomas recently wrote an Op-Ed piece in which he suggests Republicans "change tactics." He suggests the "lock em up and throw away the key crowd" reclaim power by adopting Glen Campbell as their new political messenger singing:

You got to try a little kindness
Yes show a little kindness
Just shine your light for everyone to see
And if you try a little kindness
Then you'll overlook the blindness
Of narrow minded people on the streets.

Holy Jesus in The White House, Batman, that's a Grand Idea! Let's try it. Let’s stand on the edge of the great divide and sing out while we build a bridge to the middle. Let’s rise to the challenge and build it from the widest point of the political chasm: Abortion.

The solution is so simple. Both sides want to reduce abortion, so the problem is already half solved. Now all we need to do is turn our guns away from each other, “try a little kindness, overlook the blindness,” and find a way both sides can participate in the achievement of that goal.

Think of the millions, possibly even billions of dollars that have been spent slinging mud and arguing this matter. Think of all the progress that could have been made if those dollars had been used for prevention programs and health services instead of hate mongering, finger pointing, and politicking.

It's time to end the arguments. It’s time to sit down and LISTEN to each other. It's time to move forward.

Women want Choice because criminalizing women for their fertility will not make our nation stronger. It will simply label good decent citizens as criminals, and put unneeded pressure on our already over stressed legal system. Criminalization is the wrong way to solve this problem. If abortion becomes a crime, then it must be enforced with a punishment. That means women, their doctors, nurses, midwives and husbands will all face long drawn out trials and possible incarceration. Our courts are already overloaded and our hospitals understaffed. Can we afford to lose these doctors, nurses and mothers? Do we have the prison space for these citizens? Who will “investigate” reports of suspicious miscarriage? Can you imagine yourself as a young woman who has suffered a miscarriage, being interrogated, prodded, and intimately examined by suspect strangers who assume you are guilty of a crime? Can you imagine being forced into court to prove your innocence while recovering from a miscarriage, or having your children put in foster care while you sit in jail trying to find money for a good attorney? The whole idea of criminalization as a solution is preposterous. Our country does not have the resources to enforce it, and even if we did, it would amount to cruel and unusual punishment to thousands of innocent people. The results would be the ugly stepsister of prohibition, creating a dark unnecessary underworld of danger and despair and fear.

Women want Choice because of the history of discrimination against women. We remember when slave owners raped women and forced them to breed ten or more children like a rancher breeds livestock. Black women have been aborting themselves since the earliest days of slavery. Self induced abortions were acts of desperation, motivated by the oppressive conditions of their subordination, conditions of which, some still exist today.

Women want Choice because we remember 1932, when the Eugenics Society passed compulsory sterilization laws in 26 states, requiring thousands of "unfit" persons (defined as "Morons, mental defectives, epileptics, illiterates, paupers, unemployables, criminals, prostitutes and dope fiends") be surgically prevented from reproducing.

Women want Choice because we remember when the Birth Control Federation of America, planned the "Negro Project" in 1939. The Federation's proposal suggested a racist strategy of population control, using the clergy of Black churches to promote birth control with the goal of “exterminating the Negro population.”

Women want Choice because we remember the case of the Relf sisters in Montgomery, Alabama and the 5000 other young black women just like them. 12 year old Minnie Lee, and 14 year old Mary Alice, were permanently sterilized against their will, when their mother was deceived by the social workers who handled her daughters' case.

Women want Choice because we remember when HEW-funded birth control clinics all over the country were subjecting young girls to forced sterilization or compulsory birth control as a solution to the welfare problem. An idea that even Ronald Regan supported.

Women want Choice because we remember when our government involuntarily sterilized close to half of the Native American women who lived on reservations during the nineteen seventies. Native American women would go into federally funded medical clinics on the reservations for health care, then were required to sign surgical sterilization consent forms, often while under sedation, while in pain, and without regard to their ability to read English. It was part of our countries long history of reproductive genocide.

Women want Choice because our government has proven time and time again that it can not be trusted with issues of women’s fertility. Government policies against women have been used;

• to stop over population,
• to reduce welfare,
• to promote ethnic cleansing,
• to ensure the “unfit” can not reproduce,
• to increase personal wealth.
• And to use The State to enforce certain religious beliefs.

Women want Choice because none of these motives are moral. In a democracy, the role of government should be to support the people, not control them. If women are going to be fully emancipated and live up to their full potential as human beings, they must be able to control their fertility. Birth control -- individual choice, safe contraceptive methods, accessible unbiased well informed healthcare, and abortion when necessary -- are a fundamental prerequisite for the emancipation of women.

Women want Choice because all through history we have been treated as chattel. For far too long women could not vote, own property, choose a career, or enter politics. Even today, women only hold 14% of our senate seats, and all but one of them is white! The time has come for our voices to be heard, our intelligence respected, and our bodies protected.

Women want Choice because we are capable of handling these matters privately, on a case by case basis, with the advice of our doctors, the support of our families, and the guidance of our own moral compass, without the intervention of the courts.

Women want Choice because we are tired of the false stereotypes. The cries from the pulpit that loose women use abortion for birth control, that sexually active women are harlots, and that abortion is a flippant selfish decision are all grossly misleading accusations which do not reflect the truth.

Women want Choice because quite frankly, we have had enough. It is time for the government to back off for a few centuries and treat us with the respect we deserve.

Cause if you try a little kindness
Then you'll overlook the blindness
Of narrow minded people on the streets.



Copyright 2007

6 comments:

Holly said...

Hi Kelley! I wanted to apologize for just now getting around to my Happy New Year greetings. So, Happy New Year! And I'm so delighted that you liked your gift. I though it would be perfect for you, and apparently, I was right. hee hee. I'm sooooo smart!

: )

Kath in the Country said...

Amen, Kelley!

Smythe said...

Right on, sister!

willowfae said...

Kelly, do you mind if I link to this? Let me know.

Kelley Bell said...

Link on Girlfriend!

Spread the word as far and as wide as you can.

(and thanks.)

Sherrie said...

I linked to it as well. Thanks for doing such an amazing job!