“No woman can call herself free who does not control her own body.” ~Margaret Sanger
“No woman wants an abortion as she wants an ice cream cone or a Porsche. She wants an abortion as an animal caught in a trap wants to gnaw off its own leg.” ~Frederica Mathewes-Green
This is a consequential week, when the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs could be issued. In other words, the constitutional right to abortion may be gone by week’s end. So I’ve been thinking about it a lot.
Before I had my son I was not vehemently pro-choice.
Now, I am.
Perhaps that seems backwards.
There are no words to describe the physical experience of pregnancy, let alone childbirth. It is disfiguring. It rips you apart from the inside, making space for something that’s you but not you.
Every day is discomfort, as your stomach muscles split apart and your tendons stretch and your bones change alignment.
Then it rips you apart again in different ways, to give that not-you you a chance at the outside world.
All through pregnancy and childbirth, you’re ripped apart. Slowly. Methodically. Constantly. And then all at once.
To force someone to go through that against their will is the cruelest punishment.
It’s also a reflection of our society’s myopic, one-dimensional view of motherhood. The fictionalized, ready-for-tv version, where women emerge bright faced and taut-tummied from the hospital’s Baby and Mother wing.
It’s like an old film reel that’s been blurred with vaseline. You can see the outlines, and some of the picture is still there, but the raw reality is obscured and replaced with a soft halo of light.
In fact, our society is so secretive about the physicality of childbirth that when a company specializing in postpartum products cut an ad portraying the reality of the days and weeks post birth, it was rejected by ABC for being “too graphic.” (See the video here: https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=475743503371392)
You bet childbirth is graphic.
Deliveries can be so traumatic that some women suffer from PTSD.
This is what so-called pro-life activists are sentencing people to endure, against their will, with no support.
So. I have a question.
Why don’t we talk about this?
Why can’t we have an honest conversation about what delivery is – that it’s dangerous, unpredictable, scary, and one of the most significant medical events a person can have?
Why can’t we be the truth-tellers here?
Why can’t we talk about our dismal pregnancy fatality rates, especially for people of color? Why can’t we center the complications that some people have before, during, and after delivery that literally change their lives forever?
And then point out that nobody should have to go through that significant medical event unless they choose to do so with full knowledge of the risks?
Is it because we’re worried people will stop having babies? Is it because we’re squeamish? Because it’s just “not done”?
Or is it simply because a lot of people who would share that information just … don’t know?
I did not know half of the physical challenges of pregnancy and childbirth (except for the obvious ones) until I went through it personally, for example. I don’t think I’m unique.
And so the idea that the government could force me to go through that experience is horrifying.
“The abortion debate” as we have been so well-trained by the GOP to refer to it, is really a debate about whether the government can sacrifice my body to benefit another that it deems more special. More … worthy, somehow.
And it’s a debate about whether government should have the power to force me to bear the attendant financial, physical and emotional costs of the government’s decision on my behalf.
As activists, I think we’ve covered the financial burden of forced birth. I think we’ve also covered the emotional toll.
It’s the physical one that is left untouched. Unspoken.
Perhaps it’s time to speak up about it.
Because this week, it is likely this “debate” will no longer be theoretical. My independence – my freedom – my sovereignty over my body will be curtailed. Rights will be constricted. Options … eliminated.
And those who thought of the “right to privacy” in theoretical terms will get a crash course in what Roe v. Wade‘s right to privacy gave them.
Take good care of yourself this week.
We’ll need you in the fight.
Let’s get to work.
Actions for the Week of June 21, 2022
Like I said, this will be a consequential week.
Today and Thursday (both at 1pm est), the January 6 Committee will conduct more hearings. No doubt they will be riveting, and shed new light on the ongoing plan to end our democracy.
And today and Thursday, the Supreme Court will most likely issue its final decisions before recess.
It’s rare that the Court has issued a decision in July (though it does happen) so it is likely that we will get that decision this week.
So the first action for the week is to tune in to the 1/6 hearings today and Thursday. That’s a heavy lift on its own, so take a beat.
If you’re not able to tune in live, you can watch on your own time at the Jan 6 Committee’s website here: https://january6th.house.gov
You will hear about the Supreme Court’s Roe decision almost immediately after it is issued. Again, the days when that may happen this week are Tuesday and Thursday.
Take a little extra care for yourself on those days if you need to, okay?
But then consider a little “action therapy” to help you feel more in control.
What to prioritize? State legislative races.
Perhaps it doesn’t feel especially satisfying to make “support state legislative races” the action for when Roe is overturned. But it’s practical.
And here’s why.
If Roe is overturned, abortion laws will be decided by state legislatures. There’s good news and bad news on that front:
Bad news first: we have a long way to go in many state legislatures, which have been dominated by Republicans.
Good news: state legislative races are relatively inexpensive, and have far fewer constituents than Congressional races with hundreds of thousands of voters.
This means we can make a real impact – even with few resources.
Here are a few different ways to fight for state legislatures – even if you live in a blue state.
First, both Blue Ohio and It Starts Today-Missouri are monthly donation platforms that collect small-dollar monthly donations from members – and then distribute 100% of those funds to the nominees. (I am a founder of both of these organizations, and would not be a founder – nor direct you to support these organizations – if I didn’t believe in our mission and that our strategy is a winning one.)
We’ve shown in studies the impact on statewide races of having a Democratic nominee on the ballot – and it’s significant. Just having a nominee is worth about 1.5% vote share for the top of the ticket, and funding them at $0.36 per eligible voter boosts election turnout by around 1%. (So besides having great impact on these state legislative races, our strategy of funding all of the most needy races also has a huge impact on the statewide races.)
So that we can get as many nominees to that $0.36 per eligible voter level, we use a “bathtub” method of funding, where funds go first to those with the greatest need – and we continue to “fill everyone’s bathtub” to the same level until funds are exhausted.
Seriously, if you can spare a few dollars a month, this is an excellent way for you to pitch in for these two states with critical senate races. In fact, Tim Ryan is in a statistical tie with J.D. Vance to become Ohio’s senator. This is going to be a close race, so we need as many supported down-ballot Democrats as we can get. Go to www.BlueOhio.org to learn more and get started.
If you want to learn more, join me and David Pepper (author of Laboratories of Autocracy and former Ohio state party chair) on Friday at noon (eastern). Sign up for the zoom here: https://us02web.zoom.us/meeting/register/tZUvdeGtrj4tG9f4AaTEgSSa6nvJRp_90oGd
While those projects work on building the base and ensuring every Democratic nominee is supported, the States Project works to help flip some of these flippable state legislatures. They use a giving circle strategy, where people join with friends to raise funds and adopt one of their target states. The States Project then directs those funds to state legislative caucuses, building their power. Go to https://statesproject.org/ to learn more.
Arizona is one of the states that is adopted by the States Project, and flipping just two seats would give Democrats the majority. There are critical statewide races there as well. Unfortunately, the umbrella organization behind Blue Ohio and It Starts Today-MO, Every State Blue, does not yet have an active project in Arizona. But I have connected with the Navajo County Democrats (https://www.navajocountydemocrats.org/) which is doing amazing work.
In fact, their 2020 turnout operation turned out more new voters than what Biden won by. (So, you could say they won Arizona for Biden.)
They’re the epitome of a grassroots operation, so they can (and do) do a lot with just a little. Consider a $5 or $10 donation per month to them. I know they’ll appreciate it, and they’ll put it to good use. Go here: https://secure.actblue.com/donate/navajoconativeorganizing
Sign up for Sister District’s State Power Series (June 28)
The State Power Series is a virtual event series co-hosted by Sister District and Vote Save America to start a conversation around the growing importance of states, provide context about the historical circumstances that have placed progressives at structural and ideological disadvantages in state power-building, and emphasize the urgent need for progressives to reimagine states as radical bastions of progressive power and commit to permanent, sustained state power-building efforts.
Each event will feature a panel of hosts from Crooked Media, political and legal experts, historians, elected officials and activists, moderated by Sister District’s co-founder, Gaby Goldstein, and Crooked Media’s senior political director, Shaniqua McClendon.
Sign up here: https://www.mobilize.us/dlcc/event/464892/
WHEW! GO TEAM!
P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.
If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!
Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every email! We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.