by: Emily Heist Moss
Yowza, kinda smacks you in the face, doesn’t it? I’m not a huge fan of journalistic sensationalism, of which this most certainly suffers, but sometimes the digital equivalent of stomping your feet and screaming at the top of your lungs is necessary.
The lack of a rape exemption is only the most egregious piece of an egregiously sexist platform. The fundamental problem here is that the Republican party (not all Republicans, mind you), does not value the autonomy of women over their reproductive health. You want fewer abortions? Promote comprehensive sex education. Help women afford birth control the way you help old men get erections. Block discrimination against gay and single parents who want to adopt. Give me social services that might actually help me raise a child if I chose to carry to term an unplanned pregnancy. Give me choice and agency.
Do you remember when the established iconography of the abortion debate was the clothes hanger? Neither do I. History books tell me that there was a point when ending back alley abortions and protecting women from harm was a respected goal. Do you remember when the mental, emotional and physical health of women were prioritized above the potential of a fetus? It was not that long ago.
For those of us born in the 80s, as far back as we can remember, the representative image of the abortion debate has been a bloody fetus. The pro-life movement has been very effective (kudos?) at convincing us all that the question we need to be asking no matter the circumstances of the pregnancy is “what about the baby?” It used to be, “what about the woman?” and the shifting popular imagery illustrates that ideological change.
Mike Huckabee went as far as to call out exemplary Americans who were the results of “forcible” rape, as if their contributions to our culture justified the suffering of their mothers. What about the women that hemorrhaged to death after clothes-hanger abortions? Might they have changed the world for the better? What about teenaged girls who didn’t get a chance at college because no one taught them how to not get pregnant and they were left with no options? Might they have cured cancer or written masterpieces or saved the world? Potential for greatness is not the unique province of unborn fetuses.
Note: This piece was originally posted on the authors blog and has been reposted with permission. You can find the original here.
Emily Heist Moss is a New Englander in love with Chicago, where she works in a tech start-up. She blogs every day about gender, media, politics and sex at Rosie Says, and has written for Jezebel, The Frisky, The Huffington Post and The Good Men Project. Find her on Facebook and Twitter.