by Lori Gregory-Garrott
(Originally published in the Jackson Free Press on 2/2/11)
I’m not used to fighting for my rights. A lot of women braver than I crossed those waters years ago and paved the way for my generation to enter the educational and career worlds in whatever field we chose. I think because of this, my generation of women doesn’t really respect the rights afforded us: We never had to fight for them. My boots have seen no marching. I’ve never been involved in a riot, and the closest I ever got to being arrested for “civil disobedience” had a lot more to do with vodka than “rights.”
Two recent events have me thinking that it may be time for all of us to invest in a new pair of boots—the kind that kick ass. The U.S. House of Representatives voted to stop federal funding to Planned Parenthood in a propaganda-led campaign where they told people that federal funds were used for abortions. In fact, last week, standing outside the last Women’s Health Organization in this state, I saw two women protesting—holding signs that stated “No Federal Funds for Abortions.”
I almost pulled the car over and informed them they could stop protesting and go home as federal funds don’t actually pay for abortions, and I was pretty sure there was a chauvinistic man somewhere waiting on them to cook dinner. I wanted to inform these women (and all the rest of the people buying the same FOX News sound bite) that abortions make up approximately 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides. And none of those are paid with federal funds.
The other 97 percent of services are free health care to poor and underprivileged women—care these women cannot normally afford. Want to increase the number of abortions? Want to increase infant mortality? Stop funding Planned Parenthood.
The contraception and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, as well as cervical cancer screenings, yearly PAP tests and prenatal care that Planned Parenthood provides helps prevent unwanted pregnancies and support wanted pregnancies in a population of women who historically have limited access to sexual education and expensive contraception. So please, let’s stop funding this horrible program and go back to women performing abortions in their home, or in back alleys, or in dirty rooms with unlicensed “medical” providers.
History proves that no matter the legality of abortion, someone will perform them. Let me say that one more time for the men sitting in the cheap seats: “No matter the legality of abortion, they will be done.” It truly comes down to people understanding that if they are a woman, love a woman, or came out of a woman’s vagina, they should protect a woman’s access to basic reproductive health care. Otherwise, we are quickly approaching another time in this country where women will die seeking abortions they chose to have. One of these women may be a woman you love.
A representative in Georgia introduced a bill into that state’s legislation that would enforce an “investigation” into every miscarriage a woman experienced. Never mind that one in five pregnancies end in natural miscarriage. Never mind that many of these are devastating to the women who experience them. Never mind that most of these women miscarried because they were attempting to get pregnant with a child they loved; none of that matters to the men introducing the legislation. It only matters that a fetus “died,” and the woman carrying it must have done something criminal for her womb to expel it. It vilifies women during a time of their life that is already tinged with an enormous amount of pain.
I cannot begin to explain to you the anger I felt when I read about this bill. I was angry at the arrogance of the man that introduced it, the arrogance of a country currently embroiled in a culture and class war where this is allowable—a deep and raging anger that caused a 40-minute phone conversation with my mother where I screamed and railed against the present political climate. I became so angry I wanted to march. I became so angry I thought about buying those boots.
A generation of women that enjoyed the fruits of the fights of their mothers and grandmothers is once again called to stand up. We are called to be vocal and to tell people that we will not stand for this. We will fight against this. We will stand up in Congress and tell our stories about abortion. We will tell legislators that they are not allowed to use our uteri to breed hate. We will not be shamed or silenced.
In 20 years, I will not tell my little girl that while the country was stripping her of the rights she deserves, I sat back and allowed it to happen. I will tell her, “I stood up for you,” because I am a mother, a woman, a friend, a wife and the owner of a fabulous uterus.”
And while the House of Representatives may want to poke around in there just to make sure nothing untoward is going on, I’m quite sure I’m not going to let them in. And, if need be, I’ve got a pair of boots that will make that statement a little clearer.. I own a uterus that is loved by my husband, my mother, my grandmother and all my female friends, a uterus that nourished a wanted child for nine months, a uterus that doesn’t belong to anyone else.