Sunday, January 22, 2006

Happy(?) 33rd, Roe!

On Roe
Today marks the 33rd anniversary of the precedent-setting Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade.
On January 22nd, 1973, the Supreme Court made abortion legal in the United States, citing a slightly unstable interpretation of the Constitution, extending the right to "liberty" to include the right to privacy, and thus, a woman's right to do what she will with her own body.
Unlike just about every other country in the world where abortion is legal, the US finds the legality in the privacy clause of the Constitution, not in the basic human rights of women.
Because of this unstable decision, reproductive rights have been continually whittled away, state by state, since the 1973 decision was handed down. 34 states have legislation that requires parental notification for minors seeking abortions. Most states restrict the procedure to the first trimester. Many states require abortion "counseling," which would be fine, except the counseling does more than notify patients of the risks associated with abortion - a lot of the time, the counseling is in hopes of deterring the woman from going through with it.

On the Supreme Court
Most recently, the President has nominated a vehemently anti-choice judge to replace centrist Sandra Day O'Connor on the Supreme Court. During his hearings, he failed to refute his belief that the Constitution does not protect a right to an abortion, which he wrote back when he was in the Reagan administration. Which makes it pretty clear to everyone, as Schumer noted, that he still believes that. He also refused to ackowledge that Roe is settled law.
And chances are, he'll still be confirmed.

On Pro-Choice Action
-Rallies were held today around the country to mark the anniversary, the most publicized being in San Francisco. There were both pro-choice and anti-choice demonstrations:

The dueling protests — marking Sunday’s anniversary of the Supreme Court decision — reflected the growing tension at a time the makeup of the high court is about to change with Justice Sandra Day O’Connor’s retirement.

-And even the "morning after" pill, emergency contraception (EC), is being targeted by anti-choicers. In a lot of states, pharmacists aren't required to fill prescriptions for EC if they have an "ideological" issue with doing so. Often, it comes down to the specific pharmacies' choice. Wal Mart refuses to even carry the drug in any of its stores. Target carries the drug, but has a nasty habit of looking the other way when its pharmacists cite 'ideological problems' with dispensing the drug.
On the plus side, though, Walgreen's, as a company, can actually be considered fairly pro-choice here. Though there have been a few complaints of pharmacists not filling prescriptions, Walgreen has investigated these complaints, and has already put four of its pharmacists on unpaid suspension and fired one.

For a more complete look back on this year in US repro rights, Jessica has put together a fabulous list over at BushvChoice.

But the issue I want to tackle in depth here?
Choice "getting in the way" of "more important" Democratic party issues.

The most public blow-out stemmed from one of Jessica's posts on BushvChoice that called for pro-choicers to have a more vocal presence at the top liberal blogs, specifically DailyKos.
DailyKos, then, took issue with this, and saw pro-choicers as derailing the Democratic party.
Mostly, they had a problem with NARAL Pro-Choice America endorsing pro-choice Republicans over pro-life Democrats. Now, maybe I'm just being silly, but being pro-choice is not the same as being a Democrat. There are plenty of pro-choice, feminist Republicans, and there are plenty of pro-life, misogynistic Democrats. Why would we, as a pro-choice group, reach out to the pro-lifers, just because Dems have a slightly better track record with pro-choice issues than Repubs? That would be anathema to our mission as a pro-choice group.
Anyway, this all sparked a huge fight among the leftist, progressive blogosphere, with the "boy blogs" essentially telling us feminist pro-choicers to "pipe down" and just do "what's best for the Party."

Choice is not an issue that should be defined by party lines. That said, choice has historically been, and I would hope will continue to be, a major issue for the Democratic party to fight for. While party lines do not necessarily separate pro-choicers from anti-choicers, the fact remains that the majority of pro-choicers are Dems, and the majority of anti-choicers are Republicans. But choice isn't just a "women's" issue, or a Dem issue. It's a major issue - for a lot of people, the number one issue - that is very much under attack.
It's a right that needs to be protected, and the Democrats need to step up to the plate and protect it. If the Dems can't unite behind this one issue to protect a woman's inherent right to choose, then who will?

And, as Ann of feministing said back in August:
But the underlying problem here is not NARAL endorsing pro-choice Republicans. The problem is the Democratic party's creep toward the center on reproductive rights. If Democrats want the support of the pro-choice movement, they have to earn it.

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