Archive for Sex+ Government

June 19th, 2019

A Focus on Abortion Access

A couple weeks ago I heard Dr. Randall Williams, director of Missouri’s Department of Health and Senior Services, say on NPR’s All Things Considered that if Missouri’s single abortion clinic were unable to provide abortions, people seeking abortions in that state have the fortunate circumstance of Missouri’s being surrounded by eight different states, so that many facilities that provide abortions are “very close by” there.

How handy! Arkansas, for example, which is so well known for its rich abundance of reproductive health facilities, is a mere 150-mile hop, skip, and jump from central Missouri. What a relief! Such a relief, in fact, that while they’re at it, perhaps they should stop selling Viagra in Missouri and just send anyone wanting it to one of the very-close-by neighboring states to pick it up. It’s fair to assume, incidentally, that people seeking such health care measures are just sitting around with gas-filled vehicles looking for something to occupy their time, yes?

Something I’m aware of about myself is that when I get sarcastic, it means I’m so pissed off I can hardly see straight and haven’t quite processed that yet. So I’m taking a deep breath now. And what I mean to say is that if you don’t want people with uteruses to legally have the same bodily and sexual autonomy as people without uteruses, please acknowledge that and spare any listening audiences the malevolent condescension of pretending you give a shit about the health and well-being of such people.

Case in point: the interviewer asked two direct questions about patients seeking abortion care, and Dr. Williams’s answers to both did not reference or mention patients a single time. While telling, this is not surprising. Because he doesn’t care about them.

For those who want to talk about killing the unborn, this is my serious response: You prefer killing already born or grown people via war, economic policies that encourage poverty, and inaccessible healthcare? Obviously we see this differently. But if you want to say that abortion is murder and leave that statement as the singular reason abortion is wrong or should be illegal, I will assume you are 100% against all war under all circumstances. If you are not, that means you find “murder” justifiable under some circumstances. When and why is it okay? When it is government-sanctioned and done to people on the other side of the globe by people in uniform? Yes? No? If it is not the case that you are against lethal warfare under all circumstances, then that means you find killing people justifiable under some circumstances, so you need to come up with why it is not justifiable in the case of abortion if you think killing someone is what it is. Simply falling back on the statement that it is “murder” does not work, as we just established that you do not find murder 100% unacceptable or unjustifiable in and of itself.

I’ve said this before, and I continue to find it an important consideration on the subject of abortion: pregnancy and childbirth are unique. I don’t think they can be compared to anything else, so using a framework of comparison—whether the fetus is a “person,” whether abortion is “murder”—seems foolhardy to me. If you find it unacceptable for a pregnancy to be terminated, then you do. Perceiving the subject of that pregnancy as something you have anything to do with while it is inside and depends for survival on someone else’s body is beyond comprehension to me. Unless you are the impregnator or intimately partnered with the pregnant individual, that pregnancy has nothing to do with you, and you have nothing to do with it. Even if you are the impregnator or partner of the pregnant person, it is the case that the individual carrying that pregnancy is its sole connection with life, and it is that body and that person who chooses how to interact with it.

If that person chooses to engage them as such, others may certainly be in consultation about it. But the common thread in all pregnancies remains that except in cases where a pregnancy releases on its own (miscarriage), the pregnant person (assuming they are an autonomously competent individual) is responsible in all stages of the pregnancy for interacting with it the way most resonant for them, whether that is choosing to release the pregnancy via abortion services, continuing with the pregnancy through birth, feeling compelled to release the pregnancy for tragic reasons after it had been received as desired, or other scenarios as may arise. If a pregnancy is embraced as desired, ideally all the circumstances surrounding it result in a life-affirming and healthy pregnancy and birth. Whether or not this occurs, the position of the individual harboring the pregnancy as the ultimate authority on it throughout the process does not change.

To return to the subject of Missouri, I am aware of the legal strategy of what they and other states are doing, and I feel confident that Roe v. Wade will be overturned in the foreseeable future. Obviously, I can certainly appreciate the activism protesting that: Human-made laws that circumvent the autonomy of a pregnant individual and force a potential human being to form in and emerge from a being and body that does not desire or consent to that process is a literal perversion of the phenomenon of the creation and birth of life. Yes, such a specter is profoundly appalling to me. The ignorance and unconscious distortions that motivate a desire for such perversion similarly dismay me, and they are clearly operating to an ominously prevalent degree in current society.

That said, I see the loss of Roe v. Wade’s precedent as a legal protection as close to an inevitability as long as the government of this country continues in the form it has since its creation. I thus admit I feel more urgently oriented toward practical organizing in terms of helping people get abortions once doing so is criminalized again in this country. How will networking and technological advances best be leveraged to help people seeking abortions get them and help people obtaining and providing them stay out of jail? A recent article by Rebecca Traister speaks directly to this question:

“[T]hese organizations already exist, are founded and run by women of color, have long been transporting those in need of reproductive care to the facilities where they can get it; they are woefully underfunded. The trick is not to start something new, but to join forces with [those who have already been organizing around abortion access for those denied it]. . . . Distinguishing the work of abortion funds from the policy fights in state houses and at the capitols, Hernandez said, ‘whatever happens in Washington, and changes in the future, women need to get care today.’

“And whatever comes next, she said, it’s the people who have been doing this work for years who are likely to be best prepared to deal with the harm inflicted, which is a good place for the newly enraged to start. ‘If and when Roe is abolished,’ said Hernandez, ‘the people who are going to be getting people to the care they need are those who have largely been navigating this already and are already well suited for the logistical challenges.'”

Safe, professional, legal abortion has indeed been inaccessible to a number of people and populations for some time due to legal intrusions such as the Hyde Amendment, waiting periods, minor consent laws, and other legislation orchestrated to impede the accessibility of abortion services. That the legal orientation in the United States currently appears to be continuing in that direction is abhorrent, and simultaneously, a shift in how we support reproductive justice (from working to defend Roe to supporting the population after abortion is criminalized in some states for all people in those states) seems, however wretchedly, called for to me.

Love,
Emerald


  • “Every road they led you down felt so wrong, so you found another way…”
    -Lindsey Sterling featuring Andrew McMahon “Something Wild”

  • October 8th, 2018

    The Vote of White Women in America and the Intersection of “-isms”

    I wrote this post about a month ago. I didn’t post it then, as it seemed somewhat unrelated to immediate goings-on and to come a bit out of nowhere. That of course has now demonstrated itself to be a staggering irony.


    There are many people (largely women of color) who have recognized the manifestation of what I write about here for some time. Though a lifelong liberal who has always voted Democratic, I am late in realizing it, largely due to oblivious privilege and not having to recognize it. I had planned to publish this post closer to the November midterm elections in the United States. Given that recent events in the US have brought this phenomenon into stark relief, now certainly seems close enough….


    In contemporary human society, within every race, ethnicity, group, there have been female and male members. Obviously…that is how they reproduce. So within every group, however pitted these groups may be against each other, there has been (in modern society) the internal juxtaposition of a hierarchy between women and men. One of the most profound and pervasive distortions that has developed in the human species has purported to see the feminine, which we’ve generally (and superficially) perceived as represented by women, as inferior, subordinate, and weaker. The inaccuracy of this is stunning, but I’ll likely save the elucidation of that for another blog post. Continue reading

    October 3rd, 2018

    It’s Only Natural…Or Is It?

    When I see claims about what is “natural” in contexts using natural as an argument for adhering to a particular behavior, I tend to wrinkle my brow. The argument—what is “natural”—seems a dubious one to me in that numerous things in which we have engaged historically and currently don’t necessarily seem natural.

    I’m not sure what’s natural, for example, about inventing and building a cell phone and using it. I’m not saying it shouldn’t be done, just that I’m not sure what seems “natural” about it. To go even further, medical interventions, especially in contexts involving modern medical discoveries and technology, seem to me they could be deemed “unnatural.”

    So if the postulation is that we shouldn’t be doing things that aren’t “natural” (I have seen non-heterosexual behavior or attractions, for example, labeled as such) or should stick to engaging in what is, I wonder exactly what those parameters would entail. And in wondering that, I question further that if one does not postulate that everything “unnatural” should be eradicated from our existence and pursuits, then why should some things considered not natural be? How are these chosen, and why is this criterion applied selectively? Continue reading

    September 26th, 2018

    Patriarchy, Unconsciousness, and the United States Government

    Like many people, I have recently felt somewhere along the spectrum of affected to triggered by both the accusations of sexual misconduct directed at Brett Kavanaugh and the response to them from politicians and the culture at large. Interestingly, I have perhaps felt most triggered so far by the insights in Lili Loofbourow’s article entitled “Brett Kavanaugh and the Cruelty of Male Bonding,” which resonates strongly with me.

    Why? Because this is the kind of man that has, for as long as I can remember, been the one that has seethed me to my core. The kind I have historically most dreaded, most despised; by whom I have felt most enraged and toward whom I have felt violent urges that surprised me. I have yet to come close to carrying any such violent impulses out, and at this point carrying them out no longer feels forthcoming or like the point. The point is that this is the kind of man I was always considering, always including, when I felt compelled to discount men as a whole, when I thought men and women were at intrinsic odds with each other. It was because I knew this kind of man existed.

    The first error in that perspective was that I was identifying the men in question rather than the behavior. I am relieved to say it is now obvious to me that the behavior (more precisely, the manifestation of unconsciousness) is what I despise rather than the human beings themselves. Continue reading

    August 11th, 2018

    Pernicious Perspectives and the Abomination of #FOSTA / #SESTA

    I’ve written about sex work numerous times on this blog (click on the category “Sex+ Work” to the left to see how many). I advocate decriminalization of all forms of consensual sex work and dream of the day the social stigma around it has dissolved.

    And I feel a bit like I perceive a new conundrum around it. I used to think that the majority of people just didn’t understand. That there was so much ignorance around sex work because the perspective that sex workers are sub-human and undeserving of basic rights and respect and autonomy was questioned so infrequently, assumed to be acceptable so automatically, perceived so often without even conscious choice or recognition, that people failed to realize how arbitrary, unfounded, and inhumane that perspective is. I truly thought that if people stopped to consider the existence of consensual sex work as an industry like most others, they would quickly recognize how nonsensical and tragically misguided the mainstream perspective around it was.

    Now, I find myself wondering if that was naïve of me. It has seemed more and more evident of late that some people simply don’t like sex work or that it exists. Yes, I have understood this to some degree, but as I mentioned, I truly trusted that in large part, it was ignorance rather than malevolence that drove the perpetration of dismissiveness, degradation, and dehumanization of sex workers. Continue reading