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Jane Smiley

Jane Smiley

Posted: September 2, 2008 07:50 AM

Women's Issue


Sarah Palin and her church and her pastor have made themselves abundantly clear on issues of reproductive privacy -- there won't be any. In a Palin world, if my daughter wanted birth control, she wouldn't be able to get any, and if I wanted sex education to be taught in my son's school, I would be out of luck. If a girl I knew were raped and impregnated by her uncle and she elected to have an abortion, she would not be allowed to do so. She wouldn't even be allowed to take the morning after pill in case he got her pregnant. Maybe there's something you guys don't get about this. Bristol Palin's pregnancy is at the heart of what women and the right wing have been fighting over for thirty years, and it isn't abortion, it's privacy and the right to control your own reproductive choices. There will always be abortion, and there will always be choice, but Palin would like the choice to be illegal and punishable. Same with birth control.

I like you, Barack, but you don't get it either. The issues of birth control and abortion have been made into public issues by the right wing, and millions of women and girls have suffered because the right wing wants to impose its ideas of what women should do upon every woman in America including those who don't share and have never shared their values. So, Barack, I suggest that you, as a man, should do the backing off.

Bristol Palin's pregnancy, which her mother has known about for months, is at the heart of this battle. It has been shown over and over that abstinence education doesn't work, while sex education does work. Do I accept that teenagers have sex? You bet I do, and I tell the ones I have borne how to make it safe and what to watch out for and be careful of, girls and boys. Sarah Palin, for whatever reason, did not do the same thing, and yet she presumes, PRESUMES, to tell me as a mother and a woman what I can and cannot do with my body, and what I can and cannot provide for my children.

Sarah Palin has constructed her appeal to the right wing around this "social conservatism" in exactly the same way that John McCain has constructed his appeal around his aggressive foreign policy views. Both are equally political, and as political as Cheney's ideas about the unitary executive, for example. Women are citizens, too, and our privacy is a political football, and has been used as such to win elections for a generation, so I supposed you mean well, you guys who are telling me to back off, but you don't get it. So shut up.