Because I’m pretty sure that in its heart, that coat is brown.

wendy davis big damn hero

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Obligatory link for those who don’t get the reference: Firefly, “Big damn heroes, sir.”

Photo source: Patrick Michels /TexasObserver.org 

UPDATE: Please note this comment by Neocortex just made in the previous thread – all those folks in the gallery last night who yelled and stomped and cheered and brought it home in the last 10-15 minutes are giant Big Damn Heroes, too. Can’t stop the signal!

Texas Senator Wendy Davis literally standing up for reproductive choice.

wendy davisI heard over the Twitter that Texas Senator Wendy Davis needs more material for the heroic filibuster she’s undertaken today in an effort to kill a really, really bad anti-choice bill that otherwise stands to be passed by the Texas state legislature, so I edited my now-thrice posted story of my own abortion. Following you can read what I sent – I hope it helps, but I really wish I could just go and stand in her place for a few minutes. I’m so grateful for what she’s doing – she’s absolutely an American hero.

She has to make it until midnight tonight, a little less than three hours from now – if you have a story you’d like to send, you can send it to Jessica Luther who is in Austin and will pass it on: luther [dot] jessica [at] gmail. (If you don’t live in Texas, just don’t mention your locale).

I’ve had an abortion. Have you?

The current legislative effort to essentially eliminate abortion in the state of Texas has generated a great deal of raucous argument; as usual, the argument suggests the existence of clear-cut opinion, the “supporting” or “opposing” of the act itself.

What is never discussed are the gray areas.

Of course, women within the reach of this story know their own answer to my question; what many of the men in their lives don’t realize is that they would be surprised by the truth.

Many men don’t know that their wives, sisters or mothers have, in fact, terminated a pregnancy. They don’t know because the women they love fear their response. Will he see me differently? Will he — figuratively or literally — kill me? Witness how shocking it was when Wyoming State Representative Sue Wallis, a Republican, disclosed her own abortion in 2011.

As a result of these fears we – as a nation and as individuals – largely don’t talk about abortion. And when we do, we’re often not honest. The shadow of perceived opinion is very long. Publicly we speak as if there were two clear positions — but in private, most of us know this isn’t the truth.

My abortion is a thing of which I’m neither ashamed nor proud. I wish that I hadn’t had to do it, but I did.

The average person might want to know why — because most of us have a sliding scale of morality. Even some staunch opponents will agree in cases of rape; others where there is genetic defect; a larger number, if the abortion takes place early in the first trimester; many, of course, think it’s always a woman’s choice.

I believe there is a vast middle ground made up of most Americans, those who feel abortion is neither irredeemably evil, nor free of moral implication. Witness polls conducted recently by the Pew Research Center: just over half of Americans think that abortions should be legal in all or most cases; 25% are willing to countenance the idea in very specific instances. Only 16% want to ban abortion outright.

At least some of our national ambivalence reflects more about our culture than anything endemically human: Japanese society, for instance, maintains a standard ritual, mizuko kuyo, to memorialize aborted or miscarried fetuses and stillborn babies. In a paper discussing the rite, Dr. Dennis Klass, a Webster University psychology of religion professor and a grief expert, writes: “The abortion experience is seen as a necessary sorrow tinged with grief, regret and fear which forces parents to apologize to the fetus and, thus, connect the fetus to the family.”

This describes my own experience well — but I’m an American. I carry a different culture, and I fear that in apologizing, I accept some notion of personhood that somehow “makes” the entire thing — murder. So, I hesitate.

I ask myself: When I aborted my first pregnancy, did I kill a baby? No. But did I stop the potential for life? Absolutely. Insofar as life itself is simultaneously the most mundane and most divine fact on our planet, this means something.

But I’m willing to say that I don’t know what that something is. I can only function in the cold reality of my own world — and as such, I alone can judge whether my abortion was a moral choice. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t happy, but it was the least-bad of two bad choices. It was moral.

I don’t know anyone for whom abortion is easy; I don’t know anyone (any woman, at least) who sees abortion as birth control. These choices are stunningly complex. When we deny that, when we talk as if we are all 100 percent clear on this issue, we deny our humanity. And we deny our grief.

And why, in the end, did I have my abortion? I’m not going to tell you that—as Rep. Wallis said in 2011, it’s “none of your damned business.” You and I don’t know each other, and my reasons are personal. I don’t need to defend them.

And neither does your neighbor, the stranger at work — nor, perhaps, your wife.

 

Silence breaking: Please tell a story about your experience with abortion.

reproductive-choice-button-0580I’ve occasionally posted an op/ed that once ran in several newspapers around the country about my own abortion. I believe, very strongly, that our stories are collectively the single most powerful tool we have in the battle for women’s reproductive rights, and that if we are to push back on the dehumanization inherent to so much of the anti-choice rhetoric, we have to claim those stories.

We are continuously shamed and cowed, frightened and belittled into silencing ourselves and denying our reality. If you have terminated a pregnancy or struggled with the idea of doing so, for any reason, and would like to tell your story, please do so here, at whatever level of anonymity that you would like to maintain. We did this once before, on the issues of sexual harassment and assault, and I think many people found it a useful, helpful thing.

One note: If you’ve never commented here before, or will be choosing to comment under a different name in order to preserve your anonymity, your comment will immediately go into moderation — I promise to fish out all moderated comments as soon as I can.

And finally, let me stress: There will be no shaming here. There will be no shaming, no doubt, no name-calling, no trolling. This is a space in which you can tell your story safely. I promise.

I had an abortion.

Catching up on all the coverage of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and my good lord, if it isn’t depressing. And here I thought this body belonged to me. Just like a real human.

I am, as always, struck by a powerful sense that those of us who have had abortions must not give in to the shaming that we face every day, and on the contrary — we have got to stand up and be heard. So once again, here’s a piece I wrote sometime ago, versions of which appeared in several newspapers around the country. 

reproductive-choice-button-0580Maybe You Just Don’t Know

By Emily L. Hauser
Chicago Tribune
March 16, 2006

I’ve had an abortion. Have you?

The recent decision to ban virtually all abortions in South Dakota has generated a great deal of raucous arguing; many abortion opponents hope the new legislation will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and lead to the reversal of Roe vs. Wade. As usual, the argument suggests the existence of clear-cut opinion, the “supporting” or “opposing” of the act itself.

What is not discussed, of course, are people’s hearts.

Women readers, of course, know their own answer to my question; many of their men would be surprised by it.

Many men don’t know that their wives, sisters or mothers have, in fact, terminated a pregnancy. They don’t know because the women they love fear their response. Will he see me differently? Will he — figuratively or literally — kill me?

So, as a nation and as individuals, we largely don’t talk about it. And when we do, we’re often not honest. The shadow of perceived opinion is very long. We speak publicly as if there were two clear positions — but in private, most of us know this isn’t the truth.

My abortion is a thing of which I’m neither ashamed nor proud. I wish that I hadn’t had to do it, but I did.

The average reader will want to know why — because most of us have a sliding scale of morality.

Even some staunch opponents will agree in cases of rape; others where there is genetic defect; a larger number, if the abortion takes place early in the first trimester; many, of course, think it’s always a woman’s choice.

I believe there is a vast middle ground made up of most Americans, those who feel abortion is neither irredeemably evil, nor free of moral implication. Witness polls conducted recently by the Pew Research Center: 65 percent of respondents don’t want to see Roe vs. Wade overturned; 59 percent feel it would be better if fewer abortions were performed in this country.

At least some of our ambivalence may be cultural. Japanese society maintains a standard ritual, mizuko kuyo, to memorialize aborted or miscarried fetuses and stillborn babies. In a paper discussing the rite, Dr. Dennis Klass, a Webster University psychology of religion professor and a grief expert, writes: “The abortion experience is seen as a necessary sorrow tinged with grief, regret and fear which forces parents to apologize to the fetus and, thus, connect the fetus to the family.”

This describes my own experience well — but I’m an American. I carry a different culture, and I fear that in apologizing, I accept some notion of personhood that somehow “makes” the entire thing — murder. So, I hesitate.

I ask myself: When I aborted my first pregnancy, did I kill a baby? I honestly don’t think so. But did I stop the potential for life? Absolutely. Insofar as life itself is simultaneously the most mundane and most divine fact on our planet, this means something.

But I’m willing to say that I don’t know what that something is. I can only function in the cold reality of my own world — and as such, I alone can judge whether my abortion was a moral choice. It wasn’t easy, it wasn’t happy, but it was the least-bad of two bad choices. It was moral.

I don’t know anyone for whom abortion is easy; I don’t know anyone (any woman, at least) who sees abortion as birth control. These choices are stunningly complex. When we deny that, when we talk as if we are all 100 percent clear on this issue, we deny our humanity. And we deny our grief.

And why, in the end, did I have my abortion? I’m not going to record that here. You and I don’t know each other, and my reasons are personal. I don’t need to defend them, and neither does your neighbor, the stranger at work — nor, perhaps, your girlfriend.

Obama on rape & politicians making decisions for women (or: My President’s a feminist, part the many).

“Rape is rape. It is a crime…. The second thing this underscores, though, is this is exactly why you don’t want a bunch of politicians, mostly male, making decisions about women’s health care decisions.” (And, it should be noted: The crowd goes wild!)

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And furthermore: “These are not just women’s issues, these are family issues.”

Dear GOP: You do know how pregnancy works, right? (I think they weren’t listening the first time).

I first ran the following back in May; at the time it went kind of crazy viral, but the evidence of the past few days suggests that the leadership of the Republican Party was not among my readers. And so I offer it again…. Please feel free to share broadly — last time, the little post that could got FB-ed more than 10,000 times, and garnered more than 400 comments. O_O! 

*****

I have been pregnant four times.

These pregnancies led to the following four results, in this order: abortion, baby, miscarriage, baby.

These pregnancies occurred over a span of many years, across two continents, and in three different homes. There were at least seven different health care professionals involved, my hair styles varied widely, as did my levels of nausea. The only constant, in all four cases, other than me, was the presence of a penis.

It happened to be the penis I eventually married, but regardless, that is how pregnancy works. No matter who you are, no matter your sexuality, ability to reproduce, or family make-up, if there are children in your life, at some point along the way, there was a penis involved.

I mention this only because it seems the GOP may have forgotten.

Because as we trundle along, shaming women for having any kind of sex, ever, that is not entirely focused on producing babies — even if we are married, even if it wasn’t so much “sex” as “rape,” even if having a baby would threaten our health and thus the well-being of the children we already have — we are completely and utterly ignoring the fact that the single, solitary way for humans to reproduce is for sperm to meet egg. And sperm, you may recall, come from penises.

Which are attached to men.

If women are having too much sex, so are men. If women are producing babies, so are men. If women are making irresponsible reproductive choices with which they want to burden “the American people” — so.are.men.

Birth control, abortions, prenatal care, postpartum care, child care — whatever we may think, whatever we may have been told — are not women’s issues. THEY ARE HUMAN ISSUES.

There is a purely incandescent rage that comes over me now on a nearly daily basis over the blatant dehumanization of women that is currently sweeping the nation. It is exhausting. It is heart breaking. It is spirit crushing. And there’s nothing to be done but to continue to feel it, because I refuse to stop fighting for my right, my daughter’s right, my mother’s right, my sister’s right — the inalienable right of all women everywhere — to human dignity.

But every once and a while, a particularly galling aspect of the GOP’s War on Women floats to the top of the filth, and I am gobsmacked anew. And today it is as simple as this: Women do not reproduce on their own.

If the Republican Party is so anxious to control women’s sexuality (and it clearly is), it had better start shaming men, too.

That is, unless its representatives are willing to argue that men are constitutionally incapable of not sticking their junk into the nearest available lady bits, and we gals have all the power.

I, for one, have too much respect for men to buy that.

But wait, it gets better – if you’re poor, the GOP hates your baby, too.

Step one: Don’t allow health insurance to cover contraceptives (thus guaranteeing that poor women will either have to stay celibate or fall pregnant) – so say Indiana Treasurer/candidate for US Senate Richard Mourdock and Senator Rick Santorum (to name just two leading Republicans who support such legislation). 

Step twoDon’t allow any kind of abortion, ever (thus guaranteeing that poor women will either have to give up their babies for adoption or have babies they may not be able to afford) – so say Vice Presidential candidate/US Representative Paul Ryan and Indiana Treasurer/candidate for US Senate Richard Mourdock (to name just two leading Republicans who support such legislation).

Step three: If babies are born to a mother who cannot prove that said babies are the result of rape, cut back that mother’s food stamp benefits (thus guaranteeing that poor women and their babies will stay poor and quite possibly hungry) – so say Pennsylvania State Reps. RoseMarie Swanger, Mark Gillen, Keith Gillespie, Adam Harris, and Mike Tobash [+ a Democratic douchebag Blue Dog state representative named Tom Caltagirone], who, you’ll be stunned to learn, are also anti-choice (just click on the links).

I wrote earlier that the right to reproductive choice is a question of fundamental human rights and the separation of church and state, but it’s important to remember that it is wrapped up in many other things as well, not least: The right to decide who controls a woman’s sexuality.

And it ain’t the woman. And damn any babies who get in the way.

And PS: Not only do food stamps keep people from being malnourished, they’re a good governmental investment: For every dollar spent on the program, the economy sees an influx of $1.73. Clearly we wouldn’t want any of that, in this economy.

Romney/Ryan, abortion, and the humanity of women. (And church and state, too).

Yesterday I had the honor of being on a panel with Daniel Ellsberg on HuffPost Live, and the good fortune to be given the opportunity to talk about how, in fact, the little matter of which party sits in the White House is hugely important to American women, because there’s one party that treats 50% of this nation’s citizens as autonomous people, and one party that doesn’t.

Then a little later in the day, this was reported:

Defending his stance that abortion should be illegal even in the case of rape, [Indiana Treasurer/candidate for US Senate Richard] Mourdock explained that pregnancy resulting from nonconsensual sex is the will of God.

“I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God,” Mourdock said. “And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

And I honestly found it refreshing. Because Richard Mourdock said, out loud and for all to hear, that which so many of these anti-choice culture warriors carry in their hearts: This is God’s will, and if you abort any pregnancy, regardless of its provenance, you are acting to thwart the Almighty Himself.

This isn’t about compassion for the poor witless woman who might not know what she’s missing out on if you don’t force her to undergo state-sanctioned rape in the form of a transvaginal ultrasound; this isn’t even, really, about human life. This is about the will of God, and the belief held by a great many people that humans are required to bend to that will — and that for women, there’s a lot more will to go around:

Now I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man…. [A man] the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. 1 Corinthians 11:3 & 7

To be clear: There are millions upon millions of Christians who have grappled with verses like those I’ve just quoted and come to an understanding of their faith and Scripture that support women’s equality and our right to bodily autonomy. (And just to be clearer still: I believe that all modern-day monotheism, including my own, requires this kind of grappling, because none of our Scriptures are without ugliness).

But the Christians standing at the head of the American right wing are not that kind of Christian, and they’re the ones we’re facing.

God is above man, and man is above woman. If you were raped, that’s not cool (in no small part because rape is equated with sex, and a woman’s sexuality belongs to the man she married/will marry), but if that rape made you pregnant? Well, that’s what God wanted. And women who attempt to thwart God’s will are not only making God reallyreally mad, they are upsetting the natural order of things, and that cannot be allowed.

I think it’s helpful to be told flat-out that this is what we’re battling. Many anti-choice activists may honestly believe that they’re acting to protect children (though I might argue that if they really want to protect children, they might consider the needs of the fetus after it becomes a baby, but I digress), but leaders of the anti-choice movement are acting to protect what they know to be the Divine order.

But I live in a secular nation. I live in a country where the separation of church and state is written into law. I live in a place where your knowledge of the Divine order should have absolutely no legal bearing on my life.

There is one party that agrees with that notion, and one party — the vice-presidential candidate of which stands behind some of the most extreme anti-choice bills on the American scene — that does not.

One party that is working — however fitfully, however imperfectly — to protect the right of half of this country’s citizens to be legally recognized as humans with autonomy over their own bodies, and one party working to declare zygotes legal people, to require physicians to lie to patients about the established medical facts of abortion, and to allow hospitals to deny abortions to women even when their lives are in immediate danger.

This is not about the medical procedure called “abortion.” This is about the separation of church and state, and it is about allowing women to be human.

Don’t tell me the parties are the same. 

Update: Mitt Romney taped an endorsement for Mourdock on Monday, but his campaign told TPM yesterday that Mourdock’s views do not reflect Romney’s. And yet for all that, the campaign has said today that it has not asked Mourdock to pull the ad. So. There’s that. 

My President is a feminist, part the several.

In case you were wondering:

President Obama strongly condemned Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO) during a surprise press conference Monday for his remarks that “legitimate rape” doesn’t cause pregnancy. Obama said Akin’s statement was reflective of the broader Republican Party’s treatment of women.

“Let me first say the views expressed were offensive,” Obama said. “Rape is rape, and the idea that we should be parsing and qualifying and slicing what types of rape we’re talking about doesn’t make sense to the American people and certainly doesn’t make sense to me.”

…Obama, while acknowledging criticism of Akin from within the Republican Party, said that his remarks were indicative of the GOP’s anti-abortion record. He pointedly referenced a House Republican bill co-sponsored by Akin and Rep. Paul Ryan that distinguished “forcible rape” in banning funding for abortion, language that was subsequently withdrawn after an outcry from women’s advocacy groups.

“What I think these comments do underscore is why we shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making health care decisions on behalf of women,” Obama said. “So although these particular comments have led Gov. Romney and other Republicans to distance themselves, I think that the underlying notion that we should be making decisions on behalf of women … or qualifying forcible rape versus non-forcible rape are broader issues.”

FYI, and so on.

Via TPM and @MichelleObama.

Helping anti-choice terrorists, one name at a time.

Last week, I got all caught up in my anti-War on Women fury and tweeted an article that, it transpired, was three years old. Oopsie!

In my defense, though, it was about a law in Oklahoma that was really, really heinous and had actually passed, so my brain was a bit addled. This law (later struck down by the courts) would have required that the details of every abortion conducted in the state be posted on a public website:

The questionnaire doesn’t include the woman’s name or “any information specifically identifying the patient,” but it does ask for age, race, level of education, marital status, number of previous pregnancies, and the county in which the abortion was performed, information which opponents of the bill argue would be enough to identify a woman in a small town. The questionnaire also asks about the mother’s reason for the abortion, her method of payment, and even what type of insurance she has, as well as whether the fetus received anaesthetic and whether there was “an infant born alive as a result of the abortion.”

So, you know – phew! At least we dodged that one!

Except we didn’t.

It’s not happening in Oklahoma anymore – but it is on the cusp of happening in Tennessee (also sadly known as the “don’t say gay” state) — with this particular bill boasting the added bonus of distributing helpful information to those who might want to murder abortion providers:

A new bill moving through the Tennessee House of Representatives would require the state to publish the names of each doctor who performs an abortion and detailed statistics about the woman having the procedure, which opponents worry will spur anti-abortion violence in the state.

The Life Defense Act of 2012, sponsored by state Rep. Matthew Hill (R-Jonesboro), mandates that the Tennessee Department of Health make detailed demographic information about every woman who has an abortion available to the public, including her age, race, county, marital status, education level, number of children, the location of the procedure and how many times she has been pregnant. Each report would also have to include the name of the doctor who performed the procedure.

In the words of Rep. Gary Odom (D-Nashville), this bill “puts a target on women’s and physicians’ backs. I think it’s a very dangerous piece of legislation and serves no purpose I can tell other than trying to intimidate women and physicians.”

Indeed.

And some people wonder why I’m so engulfed in rage these days.

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