In the early 1980s, I was director of women’s studies at a Midwestern university, chair of the local Rape Crisis Center and, I guess, an all-around social activist. Pro-choice was my motto; even Reproductive Rights had a nice ring to it. We wore white when we marched, full of positive energy and hope for a better world…a world of tolerance, love and understanding. Pro-abortion—who could be pro-abortion? It was an understandable option when all else failed but, as a preferred response to pregnancy, it was inappropriate. Certainly, if women made that choice, they should be able to accomplish it under the safest and most humane medical conditions possible. Some conditions were unquestionable: life of the mother, incest, and rape.
It was society’s job in my worldview to provide family planning, affordable contraception, and education to reduce the need for abortion. It is our collective responsibility to provide adequate support for the children we did bring into this world. Have we? Not successfully. Surely not without politicizing, moralizing, and just being damn judgmental and punitive.
I begged my sister feminists not to let the anti-abortion movement pin the pro-abortion label on us. We were more pro-life than they were. We wanted to take care of the living. But the pro-choice movement morphed into the pro-abortion movement, and we have reaped the benefits of being out-maneuvered by a Supreme Court comprised of male misogynists and female impersonators! However, they took the high road, and we let them have it.
Now what? It will take more than outrage and marches to stave off the right’s drive to end reproductive choice of any kind. We need to retrieve the moral high ground, get some fundamentally objective, non-partisan judges back on the bench, and interpret the U.S. constitution according to the norms of the 21st century.
*Buddhists have a story of four friends who worked together to accomplish good. We need to do that as well.