What I’ve been reading – Indiana abortion laws, same sex marriage, Poppy Project

(I’m going to get back to my story of lapsed Catholicism soon, by the way. That sort of introspection takes time.)

  • Recently in the US, the Indiana State Representative (Eric Turner) expressed his concern about an exception that may be written into legislation that makes abortion after 20 weeks legal only in cases in rape or incest. Turner is worried, apparently, that this will result in numerous women “crying rape” in order to gain access to an abortion. My instant reaction to this statement was, “Yeah, he’s right”. But I didn’t think that in the way you think I thought it. There’s a quote from somewhere I can’t now recall that says that women don’t want an abortion in the same way they may want a porsche (a criticism often levelled at us), they want an abortion in the same way a rabbit wants to chew off its own leg to get out of a trap (I paraphrase). It doesn’t and she doesn’t. Abortion is never an easy option, despite what the anti-choicers would have you believe. What it is, more often than not, is a necessary option. So, yes, if a woman knows that the only way she can have a legal and safe abortion is to lie about being raped, she’ll do it. And who could blame her? A quote from the abortiongang on this issue.

We know that women have died to get an abortion. Women self-aborted or had abortions by unlicensed practitioners in back alleys before abortion was legal. Even while legal, but often prohibitively expensive or with numerous hoops to jump through, women have died in unsafe clinics like ‘Dr.’ Kermit Gosnell’s in order to obtain an abortion. We know that a desperate woman will do anything to get an abortion – including risking her own life. Place yourself in the shoes of a woman in Indiana who finds out at 16, 17 or 18 weeks that she is pregnant and she needs an abortion. Maybe I didn’t know, maybe you ignored the signs because you were desperate for it not to be true. Somehow you’ve gotten to 20 weeks and abortion is only legal in 2 circumstances: rape or incest. Now you have a few choices: 1) carry to term, 2) self-abort and risk your life, 3) say you were raped. Option 3 gets you what you need without risking your life. Damn right you are going to do whatever you need to do to get that abortion; damn right you will say you’ve been raped.

I am NOT condoning lying about rape; I’m saying that this is what happens when you remove choices and force women into impossible positions. Turner et al should probably think about that instead of demonising and slut-shaming the women in their charge.

  • From amptoons, it seems that most Americans now favour same-sex marriage. Well, that’s some good news at least! There’s a long way to go, of course, and we know that it often takes a long time for the public’s desires to make their way into the statute books, but every progress is good progress. I mean, of all the things in all the world to oppose, why would you oppose same-sex marriage? I have never understood the rationale behind that. (Please don’t tell me it’s because it’s written in the bible and if it’s written in the bible then it can’t ever be refuted. That sort of talk doesn’t wash around these parts.)
  • Finally, from the f-word. You may have heard, recently, that the Poppy Project is losing its funding. The Poppy Project is a UK-based charity and does immensely important work for victims of sex trafficking and forced prostitution (yes, that’s right, despite what my idiot colleague says to turn himself on: the vast majority of women do not enter into the sex trade willingly and because it is their preference in a vast array of choices). If the Poppy Project goes, so too will the support for women who really, very badly need it. The f-word worryingly reports, however, that this is just the “tip of the iceberg” and that it is likely that that this is one of the many women-only projects which will lose funding in the coming months.

The decision to award the funding to the Salvation Army troubles me for several reasons but not least because I think this is likely to be just one of many women-only services that will lose funding over the coming years. With the Government tightening its belt – and forcibly tightening the belts of local councils across the country – specialist services are in grave danger. Public sector commissioners are wrestling with the conundrum – do we spend money on services that only one part of society can access, or throw what money we have left at generic services that are open to all? This clearly doesn’t just pose a risk to women-only services but also to services targeted at Black and Minority Ethnic communities and other equality groups.

In a time when sex trafficking is increasing (and that’s another iceberg whose tip is all we know yet), we can’t afford to lose services such as these. One does wonder how far it’s going to go…

19 responses to “What I’ve been reading – Indiana abortion laws, same sex marriage, Poppy Project

  1. I understand the arguments that anti-choicers have for limiting the right to abortion. I don’t agree with them but I understand that they consider a person to be alive from the moment of conception. To them it is abhorrent that a life should be taken for something that amounts to convenience (in their minds). Why then is it the case that they make an exception for the “children” of rape or incest? How is it the “child’s” fault how they were conceived? Surely this is a life like any other? Why single them out? It strikes me as wholly inconsistent to their position.

    Rather than women crying rape I think that women will simply continue to have abortions but won’t have the clean, safe environment of a hospital to have them. I don’t think that anyone wants that. Anyway won’t Roe vs Wade protect them? Won’t they simply be able to say “I’m not explaining my choice to you and you can’t make me.” This proposed law is then unenforceable and should be rejected as such.

    What sort of punishment for women and doctors are they proposing? Execution? What sort of punishment do they think that women who terminate unwanted pregnancies deserve?

    • Not all anti-choicers make an exception for victims of rape/ incest. In fact, the objection to that allowance is increasing in the US in particular, which is worrisome. (Recall Sharon Angle’s turning lemons into lemonade advice?) But, to address your point: I know. It is either permissible or it isn’t. Another issue I have with anti-choicers is that they are often pro-death penalty. I don’t get how that stance is married to an “all life is sacred” one. Amanda Marcotte (pandagon.net) has an interesting thesis that carries some weight: the anti-choice movement is becoming less about access to abortion and more about demonising women for having (and enjoying) sex. Such rhetoric has parallels with the “sex is only for procreation” movement which has some sway still (believe it or not) and is all about slut-shaming women who have sex without any desire to procreate or intention of procreating. It is a current concern of feminists also that the anti-choice movement is soon going to start trying to restrict access to contraception, for example, for the same reasons.

      Re. Roe vs. Wade: I read something the other day which explained how these laws can be passed and be exempt from Roe vs. Wade. It was in the middle of a massive reading session so I can remember neither the content nor the location of said piece. GRR!

      Punishment: public flogging, ritual humiliation, that sort of thing.

      • Well it is clearly the wimminz fault for enjoying sex. How dare they.

        I’d be interested in seeing how Roe Vs Wade could be bypassed. The whole point of that case was one of privacy. A woman simply doesn’t have to explain or justify her decision to anyone with some medical exceptions that are reasonable and confidential. How is saying that rape and incest are exceptions to a 20 week rule going to maintain a woman’s right to privacy. If she doesn’t want to discuss rape or incest then she shouldn’t have to to justify an abortion. Forcing her to is to infringe on her protected right.

  2. On same sex marriage I must say that I’m not a supporter of marriage at all and my personal choice would be to separate state and church involvement in marriage completely. You can have a state supported legal contract of marriage with all the rights and responsibilities that go with it. If you like you can also get a church blessing but that has no standing in law. Alternatively the state gets out of the marriage game entirely and leaves it up to churches. What that means is no state support for the ritual or institution. Either would do for me.

    That said if we boring heteros can get married then I see no reason whatsoever to stop gay people having the same thing. It really doesn’t make the slightest difference to me at all except that I might get invited to a few more weddings.

    • Yeah, I hear ya. Marriage is an institution I have little intention of entering but I believe nonetheless that if I can legally get hitched to any bloke I damn well please (and I can), then my gay brothers and sisters should be able to do the same. I, like yourself, would prefer to see it all state-run and led and the church (whatever church) having nothing to do with it.

      A civil ceremony I was at last year: 15 minutes from start to finish, off for the champers. That’s the business!

      • The most entertaining wedding I’ve been to was between two women and was unofficially officiated by their vicar. This was before civil unions came into force so it was purely the ceremony and the religious blessing. It wasn’t allowed in a church of course because God smites women who go for sapphic love with, I dunno, short hair on their heads and long hair under their arms…or sensible shoes or something. It was great, not just because it was in a pub, but because it was a proper family event with all their friends and relatives with their kids and attendant chaos. It was what a wedding should be: a celebration of love, rather than a man selling or giving away his daughter to another man. It is also moving to see someone cry because they are so happy.

        Yet the bigots still exist who want to stop that. Why? I don’t know. Some out of date set of ritualistic rulebook set down by an Iron Age tribe who wanted to set themselves apart from their neighbours. Yeah, that is really useful in the 21st century.

        • Not that you would be making a sweeping generalisation about lesbians, of course!

          Like everything else, the argument again same sex marriage will dissipate and the legislation will be passed. It’s just a matter of when.

        • Hey, those lesbians are my friends and we do joke about the stereotypes. That’s OK with friends but, I suppose, loses that personal touch when the anonymity of the Internet is your medium.

          I agree about the when, we’ve seen society shift over the last 50 years to be more accepting of gay people. As usual legislation plays catch up and the lunatic fringe lingers like a bad smell. In a few hundred years the Catholic church will probably be claiming credit for advocating equal gay rights.

          The tipping point for me I think is when I watched Caprica (Battlestar Galactica spin off) and saw a gay character who was portrayed not as an effeminate oddity but as a gangster. Here was an openly gay man who everyone just accepted. He wasn’t nice and his sexuality was incidental to the plot. he was just gay. Great, move on, just a man who fell in love with another man. Accept it. That’s when gay became “normal” when a mainstream TV channel treats it like an every day thing. They had a poly relationship too. Which was cool. Greta Christina wrote a great article about it not so long ago.

          Doctor Who did a similar thing two years ago in one of the episodes but then Russell T Davis does like to sneak gay references in from time to time.

        • Yes, the acceptable-between-friends-ribbing doesn’t translate online.

          It’s interesting that you mention Galactica. I’m watching all of the BSG (re-imagined) again from the start. I’ve seen it all before, but I missed the odd bit here and there, and watched some of it out of order, so I wanted to see it again. The way it portrayed the acceptance and equality of everyone (gay, straight, male, female, black, white, educated, uneducated, etc. etc.), and dealt with race issues (i.e., the cylons), is truly remarkable. It’s worth watching for that alone. I shall follow up that link you posted. I don’t think I ever saw Caprica but I will.

          It’s harder to swallow the portrayal in Dr Who because Davis has crow-barred in so many gay references, it starts to feel very forced after a while. And, of course, Torchwood had to exploit all of the stereotypes about homosexuality it could find by having its main character laughably promiscuous. I don’t care about promiscuity but I do care about stereotypes. That was disappointing.

  3. Regarding the loss of funding for the Poppy Project I’d agree that we’re seeing this everywhere. The lovely Hil reports that a parenting scheme for the wives and partners of prisoners just lost it’s funding so there are now women supporting children while their spouses languish in jail and they don’t get any kind of support getting the children to school, dealing with the state, dealing with the emotional fallout or, well, anything. It isn’t on the same scale but I thought I’d support your comment with an anecdote of my own.

    See I’ve left separate comments for the different topics. I felt that my comments where getting a bit wordy.

    • Dammit, that’s upsetting to hear. We know from research that the partners and children of prisoners have a hard enough time as it is; they NEED that extra support.

      And why thank you. That would have been a very long comment indeed. I think I’m all caught up on you now, Hover. I’ve always emailed you about a separate matter. 🙂

      • Tsk, clearly they don’t need any support or our benighted government would be spending our money on helping them rather than using it to blow Libyan civilians up…or campaign for a half arsed attempt to change the voting system…or a campaign to measure how happy we all are.. or something just as valuable.

        I shall check my emails of a cooling cider this evening.

        • Listen you great big leftie, there’s still a Very Big Threat Indeed from Afghanistan and Iraq you know. Do you forget those 45 minutes launch-to-impact WMDs? They were never found, you know, so they’re probably still pointing here. Oh, wait…

          I’m f-ing deliriously happy, particularly with the state of this nation (and my own), and I’ll be sure to tell the happiness people when they come around.

          OK! You wouldn’t be having a cooling cider here, me lad! It’s flipping freezing!

  4. I read about the Poppy Project in a human trafficking book called Selling Olga and think that’s awful that they are losing their funding!!

    • Victoria, it’s heart-breaking. The Salvation Army (which is getting the funding instead) does wonderful work too but the very specific support provided by the Poppy Project is so important. Not to this government, though. Likely because it’s for women who, despite being half the population, are second place here now.

  5. Pingback: That wedding happened, and didn’t we all know it! « tenderhooligan·

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