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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Check your privilege.

'Check your privilege' a sentence oft heard around the internet and until now not one I was sure I subscribed to, not because we shouldn't be checking our privilege but more because it is often abused and used to censure and silence rather than encourage healthy debate. However, today the idea of checking ones privilege was never more appropriate. In Texas the primarily old, primarily white and primarily male state government are attempting to pass legislation (the controversial SB5 amendment) that would close down all but five of Texas' abortion providers and decrease current 20 week limit. When questioned on abortion in the case of rape the (sadly female) Texas lawmaker Jodie Laubenburg was on record as saying "In Emergency Rooms we have something called rape kits, where a woman can get cleaned out" Not only does this show a stunning arrogance and ignorance of both the purpose of a rape kit and the reality of how babies are actually made, but also a frightening attitude of some towards women's reproductive rights. One that seems to echoed throughout the GOP, which whilst having some well known anti abortion women members is proportionally speaking largely white and male. The people who hold these views will often describe themselves as 'Pro-life', but nothing could be further from the truth. Even ignoring the fact that in the case of Texas they still have and make use of the death penalty, anti -abortion campaigners are showing themselves to have little or no respect for the life of others. It is the same people who will campaign against universal health care, food stamps, social security. These are the very same people who demand that their 'rights' and 'freedoms' to own dangerous weapons and ammunition despite the fact that children die every day in America as a result of lose gun legislation,  but want greater regulation over what a private individual does with their body. They argue that life begins at the moment of conception but willfully ignore that it also doesn't end at the moment of birth.

This evening Texas democratic Senator Wendy Davis attempted a 13 hour filibuster in order to shut down or at least stall the bill. She was shut down by the house GOP on point of order, a technicality. These mainly old white men, who will never be affected by the issues which they are so arrogantly legislating on essentially made that lady shut up. Unlike so many times in the past the filibuster attempt was streamed live and was watched by millions around the world. The world knows what happened. We all saw. We all know those rich, white men who will never find themselves pregnant as a result of rape, will never find themselves facing the hideous choice of whether or not to bring a life into the world that they are not equipped, either financially, emotionally or mentally to raise. Like those of are against marriage equality, they are railing against an issue that will never make one iota of difference to their lives but can make a huge difference to someone elses. They do this not because they think it is for the best, but because they feel that it is their right to impose their will and beliefs on others. That rights and freedoms only extend to the rights and freedoms they feel are important but not those that are important to others. They make efforts to legislate on private individuals and their private lives in order to exert their own power and privilege.

People who support the right to abortion are not 'pro-abortion' they are 'pro-choice'. There are very few (if any) who would make the decision to terminate a pregnancy lightly regardless of the circumstances. There are few if any who believe that abortion should not be carefully regulated, but in a way that ensures the safety of those who undertake it. There few if any who think that abortion is an alternative to contraception. Pro-choice means allowing people the rights to make their own choice. By lowering the amount of time a woman has to make a decision the anti-abortion faction  believe that they will lower abortion rates by essentially forcing those who are over 15 weeks to have their children regardless of the circumstances. I would argue that possibly the opposite might be true. Given less time to consider their options (particularly women who find out about their pregnancies later or who after screening might be considering their options due to the impact on their family) women might well be more likely to choose an abortion as they do not have enough time to fully consider their options, to look at the support available to them should they opt to keep their babies. Also the banning or limiting of abortions does not stop them happening. As in the case of Ireland, where abortion is banned, the problem is still there, its just been exported to the UK. The same will happen in the US, as people are forced (where possible) to travel to other states for the procedures or more worryingly have illegal procedures.

As Bill Clinton stated, abortions should be 'safe, legal and rare' and this should be the case. Everyone has a right to their own opinion and should a person be anti-abortion (or pro-life) then they have the right to exercise that belief, to choose to never consider it as an option regardless of the circumstances. But by the same token a woman should also have the right and choice to terminate a pregnancy if that is what is best for her. This is not an issue like guns, where there is a legitimate public safety concern, this should be an individual choice and freedom, one that a woman takes on her own counsel and that of those she chooses to talk to about it with. Not some group of law makers, made of of old men and women who don't even seem to be fully aware of the facts of the very issue they seek to legislate upon. So before you tell a woman what she can or can't do with her body, check your privilege.

Addendum: In the time since I wrote this post there were numerous protests in the public gallery over the bill, and what can only be described as an awesome act of public filibuster. However, the very same people who had Senator Davies shut down over a rule, it appears to have been quite happy to break the rules themselves holding the vote after the midnight deadline. There seems to be some dispute as whether or the vote actually happened, but at the moment it does seem that it did. And that those people who protested (you know, the people who vote and these people claim they speak for) were being removed and in some cases arrested. So yeah, check your privilege.

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