In a section on the family that seems incredibly relevant to current legislative attempts to reduce access to abortion and birth control, the authors describe the methods used by women in the nineteenth century to prevent and abort unwanted pregnancies.
Women have been trying to regulate their reproductive lives for centuries. Reading the accounts of women who lived in the west when it was still a frontier and how they desperately wanted to control their pregnancies, even hiding the use of sponges, diaphragms, and douching (yikes) from their husbands, makes it all the more maddening that we are still fighting to control our reproduction.
I know that there are many theoretical ideas in answers to these questions, but I still don’t understand. Why does society feel that it has the right to dictate whether or not I will have children? Why do people feel that it is their right to govern my sexual practices? What is it about sexually aware women that is so threatening that they must be punished for having sex? That is what denying birth control and abortion does for women. It punishes them for having sex for any reason other than to procreate.
And, on that note, while we close clinics that provide abortion and try to limit women’s access to birth control, why aren’t we closing the drug stores that sell condoms or the clinics that allow men to get tested for testicular cancer and HIV? Why is it only the reproductive options that specifically apply to women’s control over their bodies that are targeted by these laws?
Can a person at a check out counter at the grocery store use a conscience clause to keep a man from buying a box of condoms? That person, behind a pharmacy counter, can refuse to sell a woman birth control.
If sex for any reason other than reproduction is such a horrible crime, why is everyone OK with all of the erectile dysfunction drugs targeted at older men? Why is using drugs to make it more possible to have sex as you age (and, presumably, this sex is no longer procreation focused) OK, while drugs that are made to help women control the results of functioning erections so wrong?
Why do women continue to allow society to tell them what they can or cannot do with their bodies? Why does the history of the church and sexuality in America (where sex between single people was not always such a punishable offense) not figure in to these discussions of godly womanly virtue?
Why do all of these people think they have the right to send women back to the back alley? How dare all of these people forget the struggles of women before birth control was a thing and abortion was legal and regulated? How can they forget the wire hanger, the ingestion of toxic chemicals, the rapes by abortion doctors, the infections, the death?
I will not apologize for wanting abortion on demand without apology. I will not make statements like, “no one is pro-abortion.” I am pro-abortion. I am pro- the reproductive freedom of women. I am pro- women living lives that are not regulated by the fear of unwanted pregnancy. I am pro- sex.
We, the pro-choice, will not let you forget the legacy of mutilated women that lived and struggled before reliable birth control and legal, safe abortions. We cannot let their rhetoric be louder than our collective knowledge and the memories and the herstory they are trying to drown out.
My body. My choice. You can go fuck yourself. (Masturbation IS one of the safest forms of sex.)