by Rebecca Evans, Hollaback! Baltimore Blogger
I recently attended Sarah Erdreich’s talk on her first book Generation Roe at Pratt Library. She made an interesting comparison between the gay rights movement and the pro-choice movement: We have made substantial progress normalizing gay marriage, but very little progress normalizing abortion. Too many people viewed Roe v. Wade as a decisive win, putting down the signs and returning to their living rooms. A large percentage of Generation Y deems gay marriage no big deal, but abortion is just as stigmatized with my generation as it was in 1973. We are not moving in the right direction; the ban of abortion after six weeks in North Dakota confirms this fact.
While Roe v. Wade calmed the pro-choice movement, it activated an angry grassroots anti-choice movement eager to reverse this critical judicial decision. But realizing the “don’t kill babies” angle wasn’t working, they began promoting state regulations under the guise of “protecting women’s health.” From hallway width to room size, these “trap bills” are intended to limit the accessibility of abortion. Laws requiring two visits, each 24 hours apart, are not realistic for women without reliable transportation or the ability to take two days off from work.
Meanwhile, women with the resources to fight for our rights are the very ones Roe v. Wade is protecting, the ones over 18 with money, the ones not from Mississippi, where there is only one abortion clinic that legislators are currently trying to shut down. Anti-choice activists are eliminating the option of abortion for the women who need it the most.
Pro-choice activists are calling the upcoming summer Mississippi Reproductive Freedom Summer. Governor Phil Bryant recently signed a bill requiring abortion practitioners secure admitting privileges. In an area as anti-choice as Jackson, Mississippi, this is highly unlikely, especially since most practitioners come from out of state to avoid harassment. Activists are planning extensive protesting for the summer to prevent Mississippi from becoming the first clinic-free state.
Although we need to reactivate the movement, we need to stay logical. We are fighting a fight that can’t be won with radicalism or angry words. One of the smartest things the anti-choice movement has done was restructure their argument in favor of women’s health, gearing away from the fanatical approach.
The fight for reproductive rights has to go hand in hand with the normalization of abortion, and this means acknowledging the good and the bad. Abortion can change multiple lives for the better, but women who have abortions are sometimes left with conflicting feelings. The point isn’t that abortion is a good thing, it’s that choice is.
The political scene will eventually be controlled by the younger generation. Gay marriage will be legal simply by waiting it out, but this isn’t true for abortion. We have to actively (and politely) change minds, especially when it comes to Generation Y, whose views on abortion aren’t much different from those of previous generations.