Roe at 40: In which I judge a mother for being judgmentalHeather L. Barmore
In case you missed it, January 22 was the 40th anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s decision on Roe v. Wade. Given the delicate nature of this decision I’m sure you can imagine that the Internet was overflowing with posts and articles on this landmark case and its future. A few that I was particularly drawn to are below including the impact on low-income women and women of color:
“I initially thought I would just provide abortions to women who really needed them,” said Robert Thompson, a doctor who has worked at the clinic for more than three decades. “I realized soon that was a very naive way to think about this. All the women who showed up at the clinic, in some way, needed this. Who was I to be the arbiter?”
Despite these numbers that show women of color being the most impacted by reproductive justice policies, the perceived leaders featured in the media on this issue are not women of color. But women of color leaders are out there—working for domestic violence shelters, abortion funds and free clinics. We fight to raise the minimum wage, improve worker’s conditions, make higher education affordable and improve health care. Because we as black women know too well that economic justice means greater control in our reproductive destiny.
“Because images of Black women are so compromised, the idea of coming out and saying I had an abortion’ and feeling like you can still hold your head high and be fine, that’s just not our experience,” Herndon said. “We don’t have that many experiences of being treated well publicly.”
In Red Families v. Blue Families, we pointed out the irony that blue states, despite their relatively progressive politics, have lower divorce and teen birthrates than red states. In fact the college-educated middle class, partly by postponing having children, had managed to better embody the traditional ideal: that is, a greater percentage of children being raised in two-parent families.
And then I read this piece in the New York Times Motherlode blog: Roe at 40: Judging a Mother’s Choice
Somehow, motherhood had slyly changed us. We went from basking in the rights that feminism had afforded us to silently pledging never to exercise them. Nice mommies don’t talk about abortion — it is relegated to the dark and dirty corners of our conscious, only to emerge favorably in the voting booth. Yes, we believe in a woman’s right to choose. No, we don’t actually believe she should use it in the face of women choosing to have their children. This is the feminist mother’s greatest taboo.
And then I was livid. The end.
Not really. I then re-read to make sure I was interpreting the words correctly. Let me know if I’m misreading this but it seemed to me as if Ms. Loccke was saying that she was pro-choice and supported a woman’s right to choose but then parenthood flipped some switch in her and suddenly she found herself judging her peers who sought solace before making a heart wrenching medical decision and as they came to her for support she wanted to tell them not to do it because they were married! They already had kids! So, hey! Whatever valid reasons – medical or otherwise – didn’t matter! Just have a baby!
While I understand and respect that parenthood changes a person I find it disheartening to see – not only in this case – how judgmental women are towards one another after they have a child. Suddenly nothing can be seen without seeing it through the lens of parenthood. Which…hmm…I can understand it but I don’t necessarily agree with it.
I believe that women have the right to choose what to do with their own bodies for their own reasons and it isn’t my place to judge another for a medical decision. If a friend was getting their gallbladder removed or liposuction or a kidney transplant; none of it matters because a) it’s none of my business, even if she did tell me about it; b) I am not a medical professional and c) it’s not my life or my body so how does it affect me? I know this seems like an overly simple way to approach such a complicated matter but the reality is that I have enough crap in my life that I don’t have the brain capacity to deal with another person’s stuff. I can only be there and lend an ear.
I am not a parent though but I would hope that I would never impose my very personal beliefs about what I should do with my body upon another person and I would hope that it wouldn’t be done to me. I bring this here because after reading this entry I was dying to know if other mothers – parents, even – felt the same: does having a child change a woman’s views on abortion?