If you do one thing today, look at these five infographics compiled by the Guttmacher Institute to mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade.
We often emphasize that abortion is different for every woman, but as it becomes a more politically divisive issue, the information we bring to the debate is critical to understanding that a lot of our perceptions about abortion, as a society, are just wrong. The debate is so often conducted and amped up around mistruths and inflammatory statements that are outright lies.Relying on uniform, factual information is useful in a debate that is often fueled by emotional impulses and lies used as scare tactics.
The non-partisan Guttmacher Institute examines the demographics of women who seek abortions, the way their income level effects their experience, how insurance is involved, and the barriers to access.
What’s notably absent from all the discourse around ultrasounds and abortion: The voices of women who have had an ultrasound before an abortion.
It’s fairly common for women getting abortions to have ultrasounds beforehand to measure age of gestation, and doctors usually are happy to share those images with patients who want to see them, which many patients do. But what that’s like is left completely out of the conversation. Ryan’s bean story was like having a discussion about legalized divorce and remembering how happy you were on your wedding day while quietly excluding divorced people from the conversation.
This sums up the fundamental flaw in the intentions of men who seek to pass laws requiring women to view an ultrasound photo before their abortion. These laws, made by Ryan and other men like him, assumes that most women will have the Ryan experience. It assumes that the ultrasound image will be unexpected and overwhelmingly emotional. It assumes that women do not or cannot understand what the ultrasound would look like until they see it. It assumes that it’s impossible to look at an ultrasound and see anything other than a “bean.” They assume women will immediately see a “bean” instead of a cancer. It assumes that, through the Ryan lens if only we could see what he saw, if we could see things the way he sees them, we’d understand that our lives and our health and our financial futures were worth giving up at the sight of his beautiful, planned-for and hoped-for bean. It’s mansplaining us into feeling too guilty to trust ourselves.
In Wisconsin, they are required to perform an ultrasound and inform you whether or not the fetus is developing “normally,” or “healthily,” I assume. I remember refusing to look at it and I remember saying, “That’s surprising,” when they told me they were required to let me know it was healthy, which seemed a little premature.
If a woman, left to herself, decides to regulate the contents of her womb and in doing so commits a sin, will God not forgive her? Is her sin so great that God places it above all other sins? If God and the rest of the world can forgive the German people for their real and true and public transgressions, can God not forgive a lone woman faced with the tumult of her life, no matter its circumstance, be it poverty or inconvenience or even sheer frivolity? Can a woman not be forgiven for wanting to shape her life?
I have no doubt that President Obama would not agree with my formulation of a woman’s right to control her reproductive life to such a degree, that it would not at all be part of any public debate; that to speak of it, what a woman does in this sphere of her life, is so private, that it would be a violation of an amendment that cannot even be quite articulated. And yet, his simple, firm, clear support for a woman’s right to choose, her right to weigh and judge and decide what would be in her own best interest, is what makes me committed to his re-election.
North Bennington, Vermont
Jamaica Kincaid is a writer who lives in the Free State of Vermont, a state that has never known and has, from its very beginning, expressly forbidden any establishing of the degraded institution of slavery.
I want to thank him for demonstrating that the anti-choice movement is so often divorced from scientific facts, like when they claim that the uterus contains a magical anti-rapist semen force field, or when they claim that there’s a causal relationship between abortion and breast cancer. It is not, in fact, “really rare” for rape to result in pregnancy, unless you think that something that happens 32, 000 times every year is “really rare.”
I also want to thank him for revealing the contempt and mistrust that lies at the heart of so much anti-choice rhetoric. The contempt for women who have sex for pleasure and accidentally get pregnant. The mistrust of women that feeds the belief that we lie about being raped so we can get abortions, and the mistrust of women that justifies the idea that we don’t know when we’ve been raped and that politicians get to decide that for us.
I want to thank him for demonstrating the complete disregard for women that is necessary for a person to want to ban abortion. Notice that in his response, he mentioned the hypothetical rapist, and the “child,” but he didn’t mention the woman. The woman who has been raped and is now pregnant and will now be forced to give birth to her rapist’s baby because the government says so. Because what she wants isn’t relevant in this situation.
I want to thank him for exposing the fact that Republican men feel absolutely no need to have an knowledge of science, reason or facts before preparing to make uninformed, irresponsible and painful laws about women’s health. I want to thank him for making it clear that we cannot ignore their disregard for women any longer by pretending it isn’t as bad as we think. It is every bit as bad as we think.
"I also recognize that there are those who, like my opponent, support abortion and I understand I may not have their support in this election."
Rep. Todd Akin, apologizing for “misspeaking” about whether or not he believes rape women can get pregnant.
If you’re a man and you’re running for political office, take a note. THAT IS ALL YOU EVER NEED TO FUCKING SAY. Don’t talk about things you actually don’t know about, don’t make excuses that are painful and triggering for your female constituents to hear, don’t say anything else.
The more they keep getting pushed on this issue, as painful as it is for women to have to hear their uniformed, inconsiderate, dangerous opinions, the more they will keep slipping up - saying what they actually believe and calling it “misspeaking.”
Since Rep. Paul Ryan was chosen as Mitt Romney’s running mate, I’ve sent out tweets noting that by picking Ryan, Romney has doubled down on his dangerous stance on women’s health. I included links to articles describing Ryan’s abysmal record on the issue.
This being Twitter, supporters of Romney and Ryan responded. But rather than defend Ryan’s record, they instead accusing me of making it up. This reaction of disbelief continued even after the spread of an internet meme and campaign trail pranks began drawing attention to Ryan’s positions.
Maybe that’s not surprising: Ryan’s record on women’s issues is so far outside the mainstream that many find it unbelievable.
If you find all of that unbelievable — and dangerous — you’re not alone. But that’s the problem. If voters assume no one could be that bad, and don’t learn the truth about Ryan’s record, Romney/Ryan will have the opportunity to put their vision for women’s health and economic security into action. That’s why we have to spread the word. By November, Ryan’s record shouldn’t be unbelieved, or unknown.
There is no doubt Obama is pro-choice. He has said so many times. There is also no doubt Romney is running on what he calls a pro-life platform. But any honest analysis of the facts shows the situation is much more complicated than that.
For example, Obama’s Affordable Care Act does not pay for abortions. In Massachusetts, Romney’s health care law does. Obama favors, and included in the Affordable Care Act, $250 million of support for vulnerable pregnant women and alternatives to abortion. This support will make abortions much less likely, since most abortions are economic. Romney, on the other hand, has endorsed Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan’s budget, which will cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of the federal plans that support poor women. The undoubted effect: The number of abortions in the United States will increase. On these facts, Obama is much more pro-life than Romney.
We’re talking about birth control, but who’s talking?
Not surprisingly, men. Women’s voices have been significantly underrepresented on issues that directly affect them, with men 4 to 7 times more likely to be quoted on topics of abortion and birth control.
The decision to create a rule that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood, according to these sources, was driven by the organization’s new senior vice-president for public policy, Karen Handel, a former gubernatorial candidate from Georgia who is staunchly anti-abortion and who has said that since she is “pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.” (The Komen grants to Planned Parenthood did not pay for abortion or contraception services, only cancer detection, according to all parties involved.) I’ve tried to reach Handel for comment, and will update this post if I speak with her.
The decision, made in December, caused an uproar inside Komen. Three sources told me that the organization’s top public health official, Mollie Williams, resigned in protest immediately following the Komen board’s decision to cut off Planned Parenthood. Williams, who served as the managing director of community health programs, was responsible for directing the distribution of $93 million in annual grants. Williams declined to comment when I reached her yesterday on whether she had resigned her position in protest, and she declined to speak about any other aspects of the controversy.
Call me cynical, but I think this kind of outrageous demonstration of the extent to which the right will allow a fetus to stand in the way of all women’s health is exactly what a lot of women needed to wake up. I hope that many women, especially young women, are starting to see that fighting constantly for rights we’ve had for years is not really optional in this political climate.