Last night, I did my good deed for the week and volunteered at Chocolate Madness, the annual fundraiser for NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, an organization that lobbies for pro-choice legislation and legislators and advocates for increased access to the full spectrum of reproductive choices. Chocolate Madness raises awareness for reproductive rights in a fun and delicious way.
Two hours of unadulterated chocolate access…what could be better than that! From fudge and cupcakes to tiramisu and fondue, over 25 Boston restaurants and bakeries, such as L’Espalier and Kickass Cupcakes, donate their time and treats. Luckily, my vegan chocolate oasis Taza Chocolate was at the event to sate my cocoa cravings. But my sweet bliss soon turned bitter by some unsettling news.
Oklahoma just passed two invasive laws concerning abortion, one of which is now the strictest abortion law in the U.S. The first law, involving giving women ultrasounds prior to abortions, “requires a doctor or technician to set up the monitor where the woman can see it and describe the heart, limbs and organs of the fetus. No exceptions are made for rape and incest victims,” writes James McKinley in the NY Times. The second law prevents women from suing their doctor if they refuse to tell them their fetus had birth defects. Since when is it acceptable for a doctor to withhold information? Why is the media not giving this more coverage?? Both laws go beyond any other legal measures in the country.
“These laws all have the same goal, and that’s to discourage women from seeking abortions in the first place. They just throw down one roadblock after another in front of women and hope maybe they will give up.”
But Oklahoma isn’t the only state facing stricter laws. Georgia’s legislature will vote next week on SB 529, which will prevent doctors from performing “criminal abortions.” But the bill goes further by banning abortions based on the race and gender of the fetus. Anti-choice groups have posted billboards in Atlanta stating, “Black children are an endangered species.” They argue that black women get more abortions because clinics are in urban areas where people of color live. But Loretta Ross, Executive Director of SisterSong, a women’s reproductive collective for women of color in Atlanta, told the NY Times,
“The reason we have so many Planned Parenthoods in the black community is because leaders in the black community in the ’20s and ’30s went to Margaret Sanger and asked for them. Controlling our fertility was part of our uplift out of poverty strategy, and it still works.”
Many people think that women have already achieved equality. While we certainly have come a long way, we still have far to go. As I wrote earlier this month in Open Letters Monthly, many women my age and younger have taken the previous generations’ struggles of Roe v. Wade, the right to vote, etc. for granted. Many strong, independent women do not call themselves feminists, despite their support for feminist issues. In the book Manifesta, co-authors Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards write,
“The presence of feminism in our lives is taken for granted. For our generation, feminism is like fluoride. We scarcely notice we have it—it’s simply in the water.”
Now those same freedoms that my generation and younger grew up with are being eroded. Whatever people choose (or choose not) to call themselves, I hope that more girls and women realize the power they possess to voice their opinions. We need to stand up and speak out against injustice; it’s our only hope to create a more equitable world.