Being pro-choice is part of my identity. It is who I am, at my core. It is not simply an adjective to describe me, like having brown hair or hazel eyes. And as part of my pro-choice identity, it is my job to spread the word, the abortion word. To spread the knowledge, life experiences, untold stories and statistics, in hopes of instilling love, empathy and abortion wisdom into another person. By doing this, we as abortioneers are widening our circle. We are trying to invite people into our world so they can see into women's hearts as we do, as Dr. Tiller did, and as every human being should.
This past Friday, I was talking to two girls who are also pro-choice. One is a provider who performs abortions and was a strong voice in organizing people to march in protest against Stupak in the nation's capital. We got to talking about women in prison and their stripped rights, when the abortion provider said, "and they can't even get abortions in federal prisons."
My mind immediately went back to my "abortion wisdom box" and I remembered learning at my last job that "Prison officials must ensure that women have access to the full spectrum of pregnancy-related care, including abortion."
She seemed unsure about my statement, baffled by the very idea of it. I was outnumbered because the other girl had also never heard of protected reproductive rights for prisoners, and she worked in prisons!! I stuck by my abortion wisdom, and tried to think of the calls I've had from moms, partners and families of prisoners, all trying to help their loved ones get an abortion. The first step was telling them, "No matter what you have heard, what the prison guards and officials have told her, she has the legal right to a safe and legal abortion even if she's in prison."
It is a woman's constitutional and human RIGHT to have an abortion, regardless of criminal prosecution or incarceration. The Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees bodily autonomy and privacy protection, which includes a woman' right whether or not to have a child. The U.S. Supreme Court Decision of Roe v Wade in 1973, ensures this right to have an abortion for incarcerated women.
Now here's the tricky part: Information, Access and Affordability are most often NOT provided to incarcerated women. They rarely know they CAN have an abortion, much less get information on how to pay for it, where to go, or who to call to find all this out.
I am a strong advocate for making abortion services accessible for women, because it is simply not enough that they are legal. Legality does not equal accessibility -- for this reason, many people do not know about the legal rights of women in prison, because they are so heavily restricted from accessing this right. There are SO MANY barriers set in place to keep women from knowing and attaining the pregnancy-related care they want.
It is our job to keep spreading the word, to impart our knowledge of the ins and outs of the abortion world to everyone we meet. Even our friends to subscribe to being pro-choice may not know wisdom we have, and vice versa. Share the wealth. Spread the word. Educate and Inform. For with knowledge comes power, and with power we hope for change.
Happy Vday Everyone :)