The theme of this year's pro-choice blogburst is: What is your top pro-choice hope for President Obama and/or the new Congress?
Despite what the right-to-lifers are now ludicrously claiming, the word "choice," even in the present context, embraces more than simply the right to terminate a pregnancy.
With respect to the latter, obviously my hope is that Congress passes, and the President signs into law, the pending Freedom of Choice Act.* Stand up to the bullies, both institutional and individual, and just get it done.
But there is more to reproductive freedom than abortion. Pro-choice activists have always insisted that freely available contraception and sex education are the long-term solutions to unwanted pregnancy. So I have the audacity to hope that decisive measures will be taken in both areas.
One might have thought that the so-called "pro-lifers" could hold hands with us on this one, but as we all know, their agenda is not merely anti-abortion, but pro-natalist. They represent nothing less than the continuing backlash against feminism. If they weren't so dangerous, their nostalgia would be touching. But they are.
Here's what the Catholic Church is doing, for example, to cause further suffering of women and girls who are the victims of human trafficking:
A new lawsuit says Catholic bishops are wrongly imposing their beliefs on victims of human trafficking by not letting federal grant money be used for emergency contraception, condoms or abortions in programs they administer. The American Civil Liberties Union filed the complaint Monday in federal court in Boston against the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, claiming HHS, which distributes grant money to help trafficking victims, has allowed the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to limit the services its subcontractors provide to female trafficking victims. The government estimates 14,500 to 17,500 people —- mostly women —- are brought into the United States each year and exploited for labor, often prostitution.
It shouldn't be up to a private institution to take on such harmful, vicious religious dogmatism. It's time for President Obama to put an end to this sort of abuse and issue the requisite executive orders. Policies governing the operations of the US civil service should be set by the government--not the Vatican.
But anti-choice activism doesn't only impact within American borders. I would like to see the new President and Congress make some bold international moves as well. First, get rid of all of the anti-choice riders on international aid bills, junk the abstinence non-option, and generally get real. Then, in the name of whatever gods there be, do something about Africa.
Because the war against choice is causing enormous collateral damage. Africa is suffering and dying from an unimaginably dire AIDS pandemic. Try to grasp what it must be like to live in a country where more than a quarter of all adults have HIV/AIDS (Swaziland). What could save literally millions of lives? Condoms. What could save literally millions of dollars for anti-retroviral drugs? Condoms, again. And what is the creaky yet powerful Catholic Church doing when it isn't claiming that homosexuality is worse than global warming? Standing foursquare in opposition to the use of condoms in Africa--and lying about their effectiveness.
Mr. President, stand up to the Church and promote an end to the horrendous suffering of Africa. And stop palling around with pastors whose "anti-AIDS" work is an outright fraud--ditch Rick Warren and his genocidal friends, and set a new tone and a new direction for America in the world.
The opponents of choice are the opponents of humanity. We on the pro-choice side need to realize that the war in which we are involved is bigger, much bigger, than the fight for abortion rights, or even the wider campaign for easy access to contraception and quality public-school sex ed. It is nothing less than a struggle for human liberation on all fronts, against forces that would sacrifice the lives of millions of Africans, and the safety and well-being of countless women and girls there and elsewhere, on the bloody altar of patriarchy and the frankly evil religious dogma that props it up.
Being pro-choice is not just a position, but a moral duty and a call to arms. It's time for all of us--and that includes you, Mr. President, and you, members of Congress--to answer that call. Unimaginable numbers of lives, minds, hearts and souls depend upon it. "Yes we can"? Yes we must.
UPDATE: (January 23) The blogburst round-up is here.
*UPPERDATE: (January 24) I don't know how I managed to leave out the disgraceful Mexico City Policy (aka the "Global Gag Rule"), but President Obama clearly didn't need my prompting! :)