Trust Women

By Ali Frick

This weekend marks the one-year anniversary of Dr. George Tiller’s murder, a terrorist act committed to stop him for providing women with safe, legal abortions. The murder was only the most obvious sign that the anti-abortion movement is winning, steadily shaving away women’s constitutional rights. Jezebel notes a study showing that fewer and fewer medical professionals are going into the field of reproductive health and services. And yesterday, the New York Times discussed the latest method right-wing forces use to intimidate women seeking abortions:

Over the last decade, ultrasound has quietly become a new front in the grinding state-by-state battle over abortion. With backing from anti-abortion groups, which argue that sonograms can help persuade women to preserve pregnancies, 20 states have enacted laws that encourage or require the use of ultrasound.

Late last month, Oklahoma went a step further. Overriding a veto by Gov. Brad Henry, a Democrat, the Republican-controlled Legislature enacted a law mandating that women be presented with an ultrasound image and with a detailed oral description of the embryo or fetus.

21 states have introduced ultrasound laws in 2010 alone. It has become increasingly clear that the Democratic Party isn’t interested in being the backbone of a pro-choice movement. Now, I’m not one to say we should have scrapped health care because it reaffirmed the Hyde Amendment, but did you notice how during that debate, the Democrats’ defense was that it perpetuated Hyde? There was hardly a single voice stating that Hyde is bad policy, that it punishes poor women for trying to exercise constitutional rights, that it sets up tiered access to fundamental rights.

Julie Burkhart, who worked with Tiller for eight years, implores the pro-choice community not to abandon women: “The time has come for us, as a movement, in our own collective ways, whether it’s through education or activism or political engagement, to meet the anti-woman forces on their ‘own’ turf. We must not cede any section of this country.”

We need to reaffirm Tiller’s motto: “Trust women.” These ultrasound laws are such an insult to women because they presume that women have no idea what they’re doing. Again, the Times:

Like other patients, Laura, who has a 17-year-old son, said she took offense at the state’s implicit suggestion that she had not fully considered her choice.

“You don’t just walk into one of these places like you’re getting your nails done,” she said. “I think we’re armed with enough information to make adult decisions without being emotionally tortured.”

This weekend, let’s include Dr. Tiller among those we remember for fighting to defend the rights of all Americans.