by Jessica Pieklo
I admit I came to the reproductive rights movement a little late, in large part because, like many women my age, I assumed my right to bodily autonomy would always be there. What a miscalculation that turned out to be.
Roe v. Wade turns 39 today and there are some real questions as to whether or not it can make it to 40. With over 1100 anti-abortion bills introduced at the state and federal level last year alone and with 2012 starting off with an enormous personhood push, women’s rights are under assault like never before.
So now would be a good time to just chill out and not worry about it so much, right ladies?
That’s what Dana Milbank argues, embracing the most predictable form of mansplaining about abortion rights that I’ve seen in a long time. The problem with the abortion debate is that we keep talking about it, says Milbank. The sky is not falling, ladies, so just stop worrying about it.
Milbank’s clumsy attempt to take both the left and the right to task for the “circus” that the Roe v. Wade anniversary has become shows just how little he understands the attacks on choice. Milbank blithely suggests the right needs to stop attacking birth control and comprehensive sex education without grasping, for a second, the reason the right attacks birth control and sex education is equal parts religious dogma and a fundamental belief that women’s only real purpose is to breed.
But Milbank doesn’t really have to acknowledge this truth because he doesn’t really have any skin in the game. This kind of appeal of equivalencies, of suggesting the right’s attack on choice is part of “legitimate concerns” that Americans have about abortion while simultaneously claiming to support abortion rights does nothing, not a thing, to support women.
Sadly, Milbank is typical of the kinds of false allies women have to deal with as we try to hold onto basic rights. If it’s not Milbank’s appeal to a faux-moderation in the abortion debate then it’s progressives on the left supporting Ron Paul, a man who shamelessly peddles his “medical” experience in the form of out right lies (babies in a dumpster but Paul as a mandatory reporter never calls the police–really?) but who progressive embrace because of an anti-war pro-pot platform.
It was friends like these that made me realize I simply didn’t have the privilege to be quiet in the face of the attacks on abortion rights. So on the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade my pledge is to make sure Roe makes it to 40.
Who is with me?
I know it’s hard for a lot of people on here to comprehend, but 40 years is not a very long time. At all. Think about that; only 40 years ago abortion was made legal in the United States. The antis have been fighting it tooth and nail since then, which means we need to continue to defend it against them. 2011 saw the most anti-choice legislation introduced—and in some sad cases, passed—of any year in a long time. The fight isn’t over. We can’t afford to become complacent just because time passes. We must ensure that Roe makes it to 50, to 60, to 100.