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We All Must Stand and Speak for Abortion Rights Now

I won’t ever get pregnant.

And that simple fact has often led me to question just how loud I should be in my support of the right to choose. While I have never shied from expressing my conviction that abortion rights must be protected, I’ve also failed to make it a priority in my writing and advocacy, thinking perhaps that my best role as an ally was to give space to those who might decide to terminate a pregnancy the chance to tell their stories.

In the face of a massive way of restrictions on reproductive freedom across the country, though, it’s important for those of us who will not become pregnant to lift our voices and offer our support to those who are facing a real and growing threat to their right to control their bodies. As legislatures across the country pass laws like the almost-total ban on abortions in Alabama, acts that would criminalize the act of seeking an abortion out of state in Georgia, and similar restrictions in states from South Carolina to Texas, it’s no longer enough to be a silent ally who perhaps only votes for pro-choice candidates.

It’s time to loudly speak for reproductive freedom, not on behalf of others or because we love the “daughters, sisters and mothers” in our lives, but because the right to choose is a right as fundamental as the right to speech. It’s a right inextricably linked to physical and emotional autonomy, not to mention the economic independence of millions in our country. It’s a right that must be protected to prevent further horrific abuses of young girls sexually assaulted and impregnated by their attackers and a right that must be protected to keep people from harming themselves in deadly, dangerous efforts to end their pregnancies without medical procedures.

It’s clear what has happened here: despite vague, unconvincing promises that he would protect judicial precedent, conservatives across the country are hopeful that Brett Kavanaugh will give the Supreme Court the votes the conservative justices need to severely restrict access to abortion rights. Maybe the extremism of the Alabama law—which does not grant exceptions for rape or incest—will not be upheld by the Supreme Court, but that doesn’t mean Kavanaugh and the rest won’t use the absurdity of the Alabama law to permit restrictions that effectively will end abortion access in Alabama and other states.

While the battle plays out in the courts, what can we—especially those of us who perhaps have not been forceful enough in our support of reproductive freedom—do? The first step is simple: we can lend our voices to the fight and remind those in office that the majority of Americans support abortion rights. Next, we can donate to local organizations that fight for and provide reproductive health services. My next donation will be to Planned Parenthood here in Montana. The New York Times suggests that those who “support abortion access can look into becoming a clinic escort — someone who walks women into a clinic, helping shield them from the anti-abortion protesters who often shout epithets at or try to mislead or confuse patients.” Find out if that’s a need in your community and offer your support.

Those of us who can’t—or won’t—get pregnant should still prioritize listening to the perspectives of those who can and those who have lived through the abortion wars in this country, but prioritizing listening can’t be an excuse for failing to speak or act.

Fundamental rights are at stake. Human lives are at stake. Equal protection under the law is at stake. It’s time for all us—the majority who support the right to choose—to make it absolutely clear where and with whom we stand.

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

5 Comments

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  • Thank you, Don. I am a woman living in the Bitterroot. We need voices like yours to talk about the injustice of these laws.

  • Thank you for speaking up. A woman’s right to own her own body is an important legal point that has been overlooked. I’m afraid while most of us in Montana support the right to choose, we are afraid to say anything aloud. The opposition does a great job of vilifying anyone who disagrees.

  • We must speak loudly and often against these oppressive laws put forth by (mostly) white males in state legislatures across the country. If these assaults on womens’ rights are allowed to happen, which rights that we take for granted are next on the chopping block? Our right to vote? Our right to make any decisions for our families or ourselves?
    Women, and the men who support them – MUST stand up for womens rights! VOTE like your lives depend on it, because they surely do.

  • If anyone needs a clinic escort, I will be there, stay there with you, be strong with you. The latest legislative actions in Alabama and Missouri give me pause – no, they frighten me of returning to the days many of us lived through – and tragically some women didn’t live through. The irony & hypocrisy of the anti-abortionists amaze me. Having served in the last three legislative sessions, it seems policies to protect all people equally after birth are tossed aside by these extreme anti-abortionists…to protect children from mass shootings, prevent youth suicide, establish public pre-school, improve access to higher ed, stop economic & environmental injustices, fully repeal any statute of limitations to prosecute child sex abuse, and more. Thank you Don, for this call to action. I’m in. Mary Ann Dunwell, Montana state legislator

  • Those supporting the right to choose here in Montana need to get real in their campaign to support legislative candidates that are pro-choice and pin those candidates down on their positions on this hot button topic. If a republican is elected governor in Montana in 2020 and which appear likely at this point the 2021 legislature will pass the same type bills passed in Alabama,Ohio or Missouri basically outlawing abortion in Montana. I don’t think it likely either Montana legislative body will be turned blue in 2020. But it is possible to maybe make it closer if the Montana Democrat Party really makes a effort to elect more democrats and focus more on those rural areas that have been democrat strongholds in the past. Things don’t look good for democrats in Montana in 2020 with Trump still above water. There may not be a veto pen waiting for the wacko bills in 2021 and I can bet the farm the right wingers have their anti-abortion bills ready to go.

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Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

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