When I discovered this image and report by Third Wave Foundation, I was compelled to share it. Not only is the image striking and an accurate reminder of all of the existing barriers to accessing safe and confidential abortion services, but for me it was also a message that the fight to defend women’s reproductive rights is far from over.
(link to full size image; courtesy of Third Wave Foundation)
In my most recent work with survivors of sexual violence in Detroit, I was often faced with clients who had to make difficult decisions about their futures including the decision to carry, birth and raise a child without the support of a partner, without employment or prospects, without health insurance, even without reliable transportation or housing. I’ve also experienced the protest mobs when working as an escort with Students for Choice. It was devastating to me to think about how much these women went through before finally coming to the decision that was right for them, how emotionally trying that decision can be and then, after jumping through all the hoops, they are met not with support and understanding but with hate. Pure hatred is something that most god-fearing individuals and groups would say was terrible, in fact, it might possibly be a sin. But when it comes to the LGBT community and women in the unfortunate situation of having to choose abortion, hate seems to be totally acceptable if not encouraged. The protesters will either shout hate speech towards patients or they will offer them financial support (which is most times complete bullshit). They’ll tell women that they can help them find and pay for a house, a car, child care, even a job, all of which usually turns out to be completely empty promises leaving women with the responsibility that they knew they weren’t ready for.
The report produced and released by the Third Wave Foundation is an excellent resource for any individual, group, organization or educational institution interested in and committed to learning the full context in which women’s reproductive rights (or lack thereof) exist in the U.S. There are plentiful charts and graphs to assist you in reaching both the left and right-brained person and the report as a whole should remind any of us how much work is left to be done and how many people are facing daily injustices. It is clear through the research done and information gathered by Third Wave Foundation that these reproductive health shortcomings are affecting young, low-income women of color at an overwhelming rate.
One of the questions I am left wondering is: How are we deciding WHO holds more value in our society?