Tag Archives: reproductive rights

Can we please stop “What about rape and incest” -ing?

This election season, the issue of abortion in the case of rape seems to be the only thing that both parties might be able to agree on. I say might because, of course, there are plenty of Republican politicians who believe that women who become pregnant from rape should be forced to carry that pregnancy to term. But from my own involvement in the abortion and contraception debates on the internet and in the real world, the majority of folks are able to admit that even if the idea of abortion makes them uncomfortable, there should be certain allowances for abortion in cases of rape.

This tiny sliver of common ground feels like progress to some– but to me, the “there should be exceptions for rape and incest” rhetoric is very destructive to the future of the abortion debates and to my position as an activist. This position suggests that legally and morally, only certain people are “allowed” to have abortions. It divides women with unintended pregnancies into categories of moral “good” and “bad”. Not to mention (and pay attention, MRAs) that if being raped is the only way that a woman would have access to safe and legal abortion, false rape accusations would skyrocket. 

Especially within the pro-choice movement, using “What about a woman who has been raped?” as your primary argument for abortion access is ineffective at best, because it does not get to the heart of the issue. We cannot decide who is more deserving of an abortion. We cannot judge whether a woman’s reason for having an abortion is legitimate or not. We need to trust women.

I am fiercely pro-choice and do not mind calling myself pro-abortion either (a post on that for another day) but even I would like to see later-term abortions (when a fetus is closer to medical viability) be as rare as possible. This does not mean we should make them illegal, or only accesible to women who fit certain frameworks set by the government. This means we should encourage comprehensive sex education, safe sex and contraceptive use; make all forms of contraception accesible and free; and make abortion within the 1st trimester easily accesible and free. That will reduce late-term abortions. Making exceptions only for rape will not.

I’ve heard a lot of folks say they are pro-choice, spit out a “what about rape and incest” to make their point, and then degrade women who have abortions for “convenience.” This line of thinking is so destructive. What is your definition of convenience? Is it convenience if you don’t want to be a parent, took every precaution not to become one, but became part of that 0.1% of people whose birth control fails? Is it convenience if you are a single mother of an infant who knows she won’t be able to afford food and childcare for two children under three? Is it convenience for a fifteen year old who has only known abstinence-only sex education and was told by her boyfriend that she couldn’t get pregnant the first time?

These weak arguments against abortion only show that the anti-abortion movement is more interested in controlling people’s bodies and sexuality than they are in ending abortion.


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Filed under feminism, reproductive rights, sexuality, social justice, Uncategorized

Blog for Choice on January 22nd!

Can you think of a better way to celebrate the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision than by participating in NARAL’s Blog for Choice Day? I can’t!

I just got back to the city yesterday and have been greeted by some gloomy rain while my friends upstate enjoy the snow. I was bitter about it for a bit, but there is plenty to distract me– impending classes, hoping to hear good news from my job interview today and of course, preparing for Blog for Choice day.

If you are feminist blogger or just someone who supports the Roe v. Wade decision and a woman’s right to reproductive health, please join me in flooding the internet with Tweets, Facebook statuses, and blogs this weekend to remind our friends, family, and coworkers why we are pro-choice!

Brenna note: This is a quick update– regular blogging will commence beginning next week. Get ready for some big New Years changes. 

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5 Reasons to Keep Your Eyes on Senator Gillibrand

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand was appointed to the US Senate by Governor David Paterson in 2009 to fill the vacancy left by Hillary Clinton when she was selected by President Obama to serve as Secretary of State. Previously, Gillibrand spent two terms representing New York’s 20th Congressional District in the House of Representatives. Many were surprised by Paterson’s appointment of a relatively unknown Democrat from the mostly rural district which represents the Catskill, Adirondack, and Hudson Valley areas of upstate New York. New Yorkers outside of her district may not have been familiar with Senator Gillibrand before her Senate appointment, but for the past two years she has been turning the heads of those who might be looking for an alternative to Hillary for next woman President.

Senator Gillibrand will be running for reelection to the Senate in 2012. There has already been talk about the possibility of Gillibrand running for President in 2016, though Senator Gillibrand has made no statement on that possibility as of today. Nonetheless, here are five reasons to keep your eyes on Senator Gillibrand through the next political election.

1. She’s pro-choice. 

Senator Gillibrand has continually defended a woman’s right to make decisions about her reproductive health. During the Health Care debates in 2009, Gillibrand spoke out against the Stupak Amendment, which would have severely limited access to abortions in this country.

2. She supports LGBTQ rights. 

Senator Gillibrand was instrumental in repealing military’s discriminatory Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy. She has alsospoken against the Defense of Marriage Act, along with Senators Feinstein and Leahy, introduced a bill to repeal the law. Gillibrand also supported the legalization of gay marriage in the state of New York.

3. She wants women more involved in politics. 

Senator Gillibrand launched Off The Sidelines, a movement to encourage women to engage in their communities, vote, advocate, and participate in the current political climate which often discourages such involvement.

4. She calls herself a feminist!

Unlike many politicians who treat it as a dirty word, Gillibrand is not afraid of calling herself a feminist:

Yes. Feminism represents a core belief that women matter and that their contributions and views are both valuable and necessary for the growth and success of families and communities….I have focused on women and family issues since my first term in Congress. I am committed to fair and equal pay for women in the workplace, addressing maternal mortality issues in America and abroad, and protecting reproductive rights for women.”

5. She’s not too radical. 

Though she has always supported reproductive rights, the distict that Senator Gillibrand served while in the House of Representatives was actually very conservative. Senator Gillibrand often supports measures which are fiscally-conservative while socially liberal, which puts her in a position to be popular even among Baby Boomers who might be reluctant to vote Democrat due to our increasing budget issues. Eventually, feminists would love to see a woman in politics who can bring up Judith Butler in a Congressional debate, but we need to first take the baby steps to show America that a feminist President would be a very good thing.

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