Year in Review: Reproductive Rights in 2011

Welcome to that wonderful time of year when everyone rolls out their Year in Review stories, otherwise known as “It’s the last week of the year and nothing happens between Christmas and New Years.” Oh, I think stuff is happening. You’re here. And I’m here, after all. So let’s make a regular ol’ work day out of it and dive right in, shall we?

One of the biggest stories of 2011 was the dramatic tug-of-war happening in the fight for reproductive rights for all people. Here at The Siren, I call it the Uterus Wars, because there’s no other body part or organ in the human body of any gender that is fraught with more controversy, politics, religious zealotry, and out-right fear-mongering than a uterus.

As regular readers know, The Siren is prochoice. And I don’t just sit on the sidelines. Once again, I participated in the Blog for Choice blogathon in January, with a rundown of a host of scary anti-choice activity on the agenda on the state and federal levels (Remember Rep. Mike Pence and his blatant agenda against Planned Parenthood?). And remember #DearJohn and Rep. Christopher Smith’s HR3, which sought to change the definition of rape under the dubiously titled No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act? Ah, good times. Or rather, scary as shit times. And that was just January.

But, cue the hero music, in stepped Rep. Jackie Speier announced on the House floor that she had an abortion. It brought a whole new meaning to the debate to defund Planned Parenthood and the Twitter meme #Ihadanabortion. Then, on Feb. 26, I hosted the Rally for Choice Las Vegas, as part of the national Walk for Choice, happening on the same day all over the country (and other parts of the world) in response to the all-out War Against Women happening.

There were a lot of fights during the Nevada Legislature this year. Of course, most of them centered around our state’s record deficit, identified as one of the worst in the nation. There were so many troubling and downright terrible cuts and program closures (aka education) that came out of this last session, but one of the bills I was saddest to lose was AB314, or the Comprehensive Sex Education bill.

In April, I again participated in the National Abortion Fund’s blogathon. And thanks to the generosity of Sin City Siren readers, we raised $130 for the cause in just three days! (And almost every cent of that came from men! Let’s hear it for Prochoice Men!)

But you know that we’ve had hard fights all year long! In July, bloggers Shakesville and What Tami Said organized the My Planned Parenthood blogger carnival to raise awareness and money for the organization, which does so much good. Here’s the story I shared.

In stories that are funny because they’re true: There’s this Jon Stewart take-down of Fox’s Megyn Kelly after she proves herself a hypocrite about maternity leave. And let’s not forget Stephen Colbert’s clip regarding Michele Bachman’s “pro-choice stance, as long as that choice is cervical cancer.” (Again, loving the prochoice men out there!)

And then came fall, and a crop of anti-choice legislation in states across the country. Perhaps the biggest showdown was in Mississippi where conservative voters defeated a personhood bill that could have set an unparalleled precedent. (More on personhood initiatives, here.) I’m sure women across America will join me in thanking all those who fought on the ground — including volunteers and pro-choice activists from right here in Las Vegas — to make that victory for choice happen. Indeed, the personhood fight is just heating up — and right here in Nevada, where there were not one, but two proposed initiatives. On Dec. 19, the ACLU of Nevada and Planned Parenthood, two organizations fighting the personhood initiatives, reported that a judge had rewritten one of the initiatives because it had been unclear and might have confused voters. Then on Dec. 21, a judge threw out the second initiative because it was unclear in its purpose.

Meanwhile, the fight over women’s access to contraception and abortion in all forms is as hot as ever. At the beginning December HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius blocked the FDA approval for all-ages  access to emergency contraceptive Plan B (it is currently restricted to 17 and older) — in a move that shocked the pro-choice community, stunned President Barrack Obama supporters, and was perhaps the only time an FDA decision has been blocked in such a way in American history. The move is considered a politically motivated gesture on behalf of Obama… But it’s left the pro-choice community asking why. Especially since a report (PDF) this year found that publicly funded contraception reduces the need for a broad range of safety net programs, thus fostering healthier communities. Not to worry, the Center for Reproductive Rights has dusted off an old lawsuit in an attempt to get around the HHS decision. And there’s a list of more than a dozen Democratic Senators who are pushing back against Sebelius’ action. (Unfortunately, Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid is not on that list.)

Clearly, we have miles to go before we sleep even as 2011 draws to a close. And I’m guessing there’s no chance a New Year’s Resolution for a pro-choice America will take root. So, perhaps the best thing to do is take heart in our victories this year and gear up for the fights we can win in 2012.

2 thoughts on “Year in Review: Reproductive Rights in 2011

  1. Pingback: Out with the old, in with the new « THE TIRED FEMINIST

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