It’s hard to imagine a medical procedure in this country that carries the stigma and judgment that abortion does. Women’s experiences are often seen through the lens of cultural and political battles. If a woman says that she’s relieved after having an abortion, she may be judged for being heartless or unfeeling. If she says that she feels regret, anti-abortion activists use this to push for laws that restrict access to abortion or laws that assume women are incapable of making their own decisions without the interference of others.

So instead, we just don’t talk about it. That’s how abortion came to be discussed as an “issue” instead of an experience.

How can something that one third of women in the United States experience be the focus of intense public debate for decades, with hardly any real firsthand experiences at the center of the discussion? One word: stigma.

Cecile Richards

We need to talk about abortion. And when we talk about abortion, we need to talk about people’s experiences — not politics. 

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notthatkindoftour:

Damn, we are so excited to hit the road again tomorrow and meet our Texas sisters! Today is our last rest day in rainy New York—read this indispensable history of a Planned Parenthood Icon! 

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New York, New York

Faye Wattleton was the first black President, the second woman to run Planned Parenthood, and the youngest elected President in the organization’s history. Damn. She came onboard during a tumultuous time; just a year before her election, a Planned Parenthood clinic had been burnt to the ground and bomb threats were common. She dealt with devastating legislative restrictions and built up the organization’s base despite multiple assassinations, the 1985 “Year of Pain and Fear” (so named by anti-choice activists), anthrax scares, and arson. By 1992, when she stepped down, Planned Parenthood was the 7th largest nonprofit in the country. Again, damn.

But I wanted to back up a little bit, because Wattleton ran PP during a really pivotal time in reproductive rights history. Women of color have always been involved in fighting for reproductive rights while simultaneously questioning the single-issue focus of the mainstream pro-choice movement. The right to terminate a pregnancy should also mean the right to carry one to term; supporting women who don’t want children should also mean supporting those who do.

Women of color ushered in today’s broader understanding of reproductive rights. In 1976, the Hyde Amendment passed, prohibiting the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortions, meaning that poor women would find getting abortions incredibly difficult, if not impossible. Within months, Rosie Jiménez, a 27-year-old Latina college student and single mother, was the first woman known to have died as a consequence of the Hyde Amendment. She went to a Texas clinic for an abortion, but was turned down because Medicaid would no longer reimburse the procedure. Unable to singlehandedly raise the funds for a legal abortion, she traveled to Mexico for a cheaper, illegal procedure. When she died of septic shock, she had her Medicaid card in her wallet.

Reproductive rights organizations led by black and/or Latina women grew significantly in the seventies and eighties. The Committee for Abortion Rights and Against Sterilization Abuse (CARASA) worked to expose and stop forced sterilization and make sure women could afford abortions. Brenda Joyner, abortion provider and activist, explained the post-Hyde era like this; “The government will not pay for a $200 or $300 abortion procedure for a poor woman on Medicaid. But it will pay for a $2,000 or $3,000 sterilization procedure for the same poor woman.” Legislators wanted to control who could parent, rather than allow women to decide when and why they would choose to have children.

The National Black Women’s Health project was founded in 1983. In 1985, NOW created its Women of Color Program (lead by the indefatigable Loretta J. Ross) and then sponsored the First National Conference on Women of Color and Reproductive Rights. Women like Ross, Joyner, Wattleton, and Helen Rodríguez Trías (who founded CARASA) worked tirelessly to advocate for the reproductive rights of marginalized women and build up the movement’s base.

Their work was strengthened with the framework of reproductive justice: an idea introduced by prominent activists, including Ross, who represented “communities with few real choices,” rejected the language of “choice,” and sought to integrate concepts of reproductive rights with social justice and human rights. The term first appeared in a full-page announcement in the Washington Post, demanding that Clinton honor the promises he’d made to protect women’s rights. 

—Alex 

Greg Abbott just told women living in a health care crisis that forcing them to travel up to 500 miles, take time off of work and lose pay, and find child care, money for gas, and lodging — all to access a safe, legal health procedure to which they have a constitutional right, or else seek out a dangerous alternative that puts their lives at risk — is not a big enough “inconvenience” to matter to him. 
Robbing Texas women of their constitutional rights isn’t an “inconvenience” — it’s an injustice. Texans won’t stand for it, and they will make that known on November 4th.

Greg Abbott just told women living in a health care crisis that forcing them to travel up to 500 miles, take time off of work and lose pay, and find child care, money for gas, and lodging — all to access a safe, legal health procedure to which they have a constitutional right, or else seek out a dangerous alternative that puts their lives at risk — is not a big enough “inconvenience” to matter to him. 

Robbing Texas women of their constitutional rights isn’t an “inconvenience” — it’s an injustice. Texans won’t stand for it, and they will make that known on November 4th.

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