While in conversation with a co-worker regarding the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, a voice questioned me from behind. It was more of a rhetorical question though, "So you're one of those?"
Curious, I turned to face the middle-aged white man invading my personal space with my reply. What, teacher? Writer? Woman?
"One of those pro-abortionists," he confirmed his own opinion. Though I should not have been surprised given the topic, the way he framed his statement caught me off guard. Futile as it was, I tried to explain that I believed in free will and choice. He already had his answers set firmly in his head and did not listen to any of my words. Realizing that my energy was wasted on this man, I returned to the previous conversation I was having before we were interrupted.
Instead of angering me (as they probably should have) his words amused me. As any person who supports pro-choice would know, there are always these conversations with these staunch anti-choice advocates whom leave no room in their minds for intelligent discussion. Those who believe so strongly against abortion-even in cases of rape, my high profile example: Sarah Palin.
This man spoke as if I run through the streets screaming for women to have abortions, as if I chant a mantra to young girls. Ridiculous as this seems to me, do the "pro-lifers" believe that someone as me is pro-abortion?
Yes, I do support a woman's right to choose what happens or does not happen to her body. Yes, I am a feminist who believes in human rights, exercising empowerment through choice. Although "feminist" and "pro-choice" are not interchangeable, I know many women that are "accused" of being a feminist and/or pro-abortion just for speaking up. (At times, perhaps, just for being a woman.)
In addition to the historical inauguration of President Obama, the holiday observing Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., this week also marks the anniversary of the 1973 landmark Supreme Court case, Roe verses Wade. Essentially, this outcome of this case upheld that most laws opposing abortion violated a constitutional right to privacy.
Many eyes are focused closely on Obama as he steps up to the plate, what will he do, or undo, first? In numerous blogs and online sources I find a majority of the people want to know, will Obama be a "pro-woman" or "feminist president" and exactly where/how will he stand on family planning and abortion services? The Christian Right (anti-choice) has already voiced fears about changes that Obama will make.
Any person moving into the White House during the current economic crisis and general state of affairs in the US would have difficulty cleaning up the "mess" that the Bush Administration has made of women's and reproductive rights issues. Such as the last minute Health Care regulation Initiative, the Hyde Amendment, or the Gag Rule, which is described below. As we all speculate what Obama do, I wonder what his first action will be considering the many compelling tasks he faces as the new president.
As in the past, the presidential inauguration coincides with the anniversary of Roe v Wade, thus, sparking the continuous political tug of war over the Mexico City Policy (which determines who-NGOs-and how much federal funding is granted for reproductive health service agencies). Since President Reagan initiated the Gag Rule in 1984 the consequent presidents have exercised their power by treating this policy as a game. After Reagan, Clinton amended the "Global Gag Rule" to celebrate Roe's anniversary in 1993, only to be promptly reinstated in 2001 by G. W. Bush only hours into his first day on job.
Supporters of the Obama Administration hope that the policy will once again be lifted. My uninformed co-worker never brought the issue up with me again which works for me. Though I rarely voice my political views at work, (unfortunately) I am even more careful now, because you never know who is listening over your shoulder. Now that Obama's Administration moved into the dugout, let the game begin.