From the March-April 2023 issue of News & Letters
by Terry Moon
Regular readers know that this column often takes up the struggle for reproductive justice, and we now have a great new resource for information about abortion. Jessica Valenti, whom you may remember from the blog she cofounded, Feministing, or the many books she’s authored, recently began another blog, “Abortion Every Day (AED).” It is a treasure.
ROE’S END CREATED NEW DEADLY REALITY
So much is happening regarding abortion—since the reactionary U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, trashing women’s right to abortion, a human right we’ve had for 50 years—that it is almost impossible to keep track of. Not only does AED do a tremendous job of that, we also receive Valenti’s valuable thoughts on the political and personal events let loose by this brutal attack on women’s freedom.
AED runs down what is happening in each state, and what is new in the nation. Valenti lists “Quick hits,” a sentence each of different facts, like: Over 1,000 doctors in North Carolina are urging lawmakers not to enact more abortion restrictions, or Tennessee’s governor is proposing sending $100 million to fund so-called “crisis pregnancy centers.” Everything has a link so the reader can dig deeper. “Quick hits” also takes up what articles appear in what media, again with links.
She includes important charts, news clips, and TikTok videos. Her segment “Listen up” takes up abortion news found on the radio and podcasts. Included is “A rant,” which is often my favorite part, and she ends with “Keep an eye on,” which often warns us about some new tactic that Republicans or anti-abortion fanatics have come up with. One of the latest that Valenti lets us know about, is the attempt to rename abortion bans as an “abortion window” as if they are doing us a favor by giving women a six-week “window” to get an abortion!
AED is far more than lists, as Valenti gives us her insights. She is telling us, among other things, that the anti-abortionists are laying the ground to blame doctors when the first woman dies because of the bans and laws they have had decades to draft. Doctors rightly fear fines, imprisonment and losing their licenses if they perform an abortion because the so-called exceptions—if there is one for the life or health of the woman, and often there isn’t!—are written in such a way as to give little or no guidance to a doctor. How sick does a woman have to be? What does it mean to be close to death? How much does she have to hemorrhage? How bad must the sepsis become? No one knows, but when—and it is when, not if—a woman dies, those who are actually responsible will blame the doctor.
Valenti tells us that the “exceptions” for rape and incest as well as for health and saving a woman’s life are a lie. They too are written in such a way as to make it difficult to impossible to access. She gets into the anti-abortion fanatics’ mindset where they try to convince themselves that medically necessary abortions aren’t abortions at all, and yet we know that from now on spontaneous abortions, that is, miscarriages, will now be treated as illegal abortions as they have already in several instances even before Roe was overturned.
My one criticism is that, like much of the history of the struggle for reproductive justice, there is too much dependency on the Democratic Party. This is sad, because it is clear that not only is Valenti aware of the severe limitations of the Democratic Party in fighting for abortion rights, but so are many of those who participate in the comments section. And yet that seems to be the only alternative.
If the history of the Women’s Liberation Movement shows us anything, it is that the way we progressed was by taking to the streets and the promise of a revolutionary movement—one so deep that all human relationships would be transformed. That was the only thing that spurred Democrats to move forward on so many of the demands that women were making, including the right to control our own bodies. What both Republicans and Democrats fear the most is a movement of the people that they can’t control. Let’s give it to them.