I have been meaning to write this entry for a few days but have been too busy to find a few minutes for my thoughts. Given my last entry, I’m sure you can appreciate that the busyness is, for all other purposes, an excellent thing. And hey! Thanks! to everyone for your understanding about the impatience trying to conceive breeds in us all.
Tuesday was the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision in the U.S. Supreme Court. For my international readers (yay!) – this made abortion safe and legal in all 50 U.S. States, overturning individual state laws prohibiting abortion. It was then and continues to be now a contentious issue. Its also one I care deeply about.
Right to choose politics were some of the first feminist philosophies I ever encountered. The Campus NARAL (National Abortion Rights Action League) was my first taste of radical campus organizing. From there, my life has progressed in a steady progressive queer direction towards more complex and nuanced intersectional politics. But the issue has stayed close to my heart.
Now that I work full time in the sexual health education field, it is more relevant in my thoughts. Although I work for an organization that doesn’t have an official stance on abortion (to maintain relationships, avoid controversy and focus the issue) – the goals are deeply interwoven. Teaching people about their bodies and sexual health means creating an environment where pregnancy, among other choices, can be chosen and parenthood can be intentional.
I’ve never been in the position of having an unplanned pregnancy, although I certainly didn’t help myself out with that much when I was younger (first hand experience with a lack of accurate information is part of why I got into this game) and had a scare or two in my late teens. I also don’t run in circles where too many of my close friends have had direct experience with abortion, although I find out every day that more and more people I know have had them – and I am so grateful for their courage and willingness to share their stories.
So my personal relationship is a unique one. But I do think a lot about the right to choose when it comes to reproduction. And I think you should too, even if you are a person who has never (and will never) have the kind of sex that could get you knocked up and your only choice is to spend hours and dollars getting pregnant.
The same fucked up systems that keep the Roe v. Wade decision a tentative and controversial one play out in the experience many queer folks have in trying to GET pregnant. Yep. Sometimes NOT wanting something and WANTING something are more similar that you’d guess.
One of the biggest legal hoops we had to jump through (and which can really complicate your life if you don’t – see here) using a known donor was having our inseminations “supervised” by a physician or advanced practice nurse. Our awesome doc – also queer and so super supportive – wouldn’t do it because of legal liability, neither would the OB-GYN. We had to hunt around all over until we found a friend who was willing to put her name on the line to help us out. Without the form she signed, La’s parental rights could be called into question and – like the Kansas case I linked to above – BFF donor could be sued for child support BY THE STATE.
The reasoning is that without medical intervention, the ‘donation’ isn’t a donation but rather a relationship that warrants equal parenting rights – no matter what other contract is signed between parties. The existence of a medical third party is what makes it legit. Without that signature, BFF and I just had a series of very unusual one night stands, I guess?
This is the same reason that most clinics won’t let you use a known donor sample unless it has been quarantined for 6 months and rigorously tested (not just for HIV and STIs, but genetic issues, mobility and motility, etc. – stuff that costs a lot of money) They are taking on the liability – putting their medical name on the line – and passing the cost along to the intended parents.
In all cases, the medical industry and the sperm donor (‘father’) is considered to be more culpable and responsible than the woman getting pregnant. And, at its root – its the same damned issue as abortion. In both cases, women aren’t trusted to make decisions about their own bodies and what happens in them, especially when it comes to having (or not having) babies.
Of course, there’s a lot of homophobia in this as well, as a married woman can use her husband’s sperm donation at a clinic without having it quarantined. BUT if a donor is still needed then the same rules apply.
So, this week, I am grateful for Roe v. Wade and the difference is has made in millions of lives. But I’m also reminded that it is not the be-all-end-all. That the Hyde Amendment still keeps the women who most need reproductive support far from it, and the almost daily barrage of new legislation to make abortion difficult, illegal or just really shitty is depressing. So, its not done.
What do you all think? Am I grasping at straws? What are your feelings about termination of pregnancy as people who are working hard to achieve a wanted pregnancy?
In semi-related other news: The Colorado Civil Unions bill passed out of its first senate committee yesterday – which is awesome! One step closer!