I went to a meeting this morning to discuss a panel/press conference that I am participating in next week. The focus of the event is to discuss recent Congressional hearings, bills, and decisions regarding women's health, not the least of which is the Affordable Care Act. I arrived, and when I was getting my green tea I saw this. Taped to the newsstand in front of copies of the Sacramento Bee is this sign announcing that a Senate bill will make abortions easier. I can only assume that they mean this bill, a California Senate bill, but I wasn't about to buy the Bee and financially support them, especially with the accompanying photo.
Clearly the Sacramento Bee feels that it is within their journalist responsibility to project an anti-choice agenda in advertising their papers along with morning coffee. What ever happened to impartial reporting? What ever happened to integrity in news? Oh my, I want to laugh at myself. Certainly I KNOW bias in the media is rampant in this country. I know that there are few, if any, reliable sources of media. And I spend a great deal of time reading multiple sources just to piece together events of the day. But today, as I prepared to meet with Congresswoman Matsui's office to discuss next week's event with both my daughters in tow, on the heels of way too much attention given to Rush Limbaugh's tirade that women who use birth control are sluts and prostitutes, and as my health center faces yet another "40 Days of Life" attack on its clinics...I'm exhausted. And I'm pissed.
How is it that we are STILL fighting these battles? How is it even a conversation whether or not women should have access to birth control? to abortion? Our culture...particularly our consumer culture...has co-opted the language of choice so thoroughly that we now believe we are empowered because we chose one brand of tampon over another. But reproductive choice is often trumped by issues of access, lack of coverage, lack of information/education, misconceptions, falsehoods, transportation issues, lack of providers, politics...did I say POLITICS?! And worse, with merely 12-13% representation of women in Congress and an average of 20% (California is slightly higher) of state elected offices, the decisions about women's health are largely being made by men.
Back to the bill in question...California Senator Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego) has introduced a bill that would allow certified nurse-midwives, physicians assistants, and nurse practitioners to perform aspiration abortions. Duh? We should have been doing this long ago. Abortion is a simple and safe procedure--safer than a shot of penicillin and ten times safer than carrying to term and giving birth. Midwives, PAs, nurses are all trained medically. Besides, there once was a time when women's health was entirely in women's hands...abortion included. In fact, abortion has been practiced, in various forms, since about the 1500s BCE--long before the 'official medical doctor' practices as we know them today. In fact, 'lay' women performed abortions on other women prior to Roe v. Wade--and did so more safely and more respectfully than many of the men posing as doctors to exploit women who found themselves pregnant at a time when abortion was illegal...and as such dangerous. And this is an important point...abortion is safe. And by the way legal. As are contraceptives. But what makes abortion unsafe is not the procedure but rather the politics and anti-choice extremism that surrounds abortion. Anti-choice sentiments that are fueled and supported by images like this one accompanying the Sacramento Bee this morning.