April 7th Luncheon – Assault on Women’s Reproductive Health

By Sam Mitchell

On April 7, we will be hosting two speakers who will address women’s reproductive health in Alabama. Both are on the frontline of ensuring choice for all women.

Like others across the country, the Alabama Legislature is not just restricting access to pregnancy termination.  They are now considering legislation that would make a zygote a person, which has serious policy implications for women of any age and women who WANT to be pregnant. A simple, spontaneous miscarriage could soon be cause for a criminal investigation. Having witnessed the sadness and grief that comes with an unwanted spontaneous miscarriage I can’t imagine that being cause for criminal charges.  The discussion about birth control has implications for all of us- there are many of us well past child bearing years that still pop open the oval case for reasons far different than preventing pregnancy. This legislation will also impact women seeking fertility treatments, particularly IVF. The idea that “the mother only contributes the egg and the incubator. The new person is fertilized in the fallopian tube and is transported to the womb where the baby, not the mother, initiates the process of implantation. The mother provides only nutrition and protection” is beyond the pale.

Much of the women’s right movement is about choice. Our choice to go to college, our choice to work, our choice to stay home. Our choice to work and raise a family. Our choice to leave an abusive relationship. Our choice to bear a child conceived of rape or incest. Our choice of our lives or our zygotes. So many choices that so many women- and so many men- have worked so hard to put in place.

I will date myself with this, but I remember the ripeness of possibilities when I went to college.  We feared pregnancy, but we could prevent that. We just had to go to the clinic. And we agonized in our dorm rooms about ALL the choices we had. We felt a heady freedom in those days of breaking the glass ceiling, of pursuing careers that interested us and rewarded us. If worse came to worse, and sometimes it did, there was an agonizing decision to be made. It could be made, often without harassment. Much of that sense of liberation was a result of the hard work of an older generation.

I remember women’s studies classes where we shaved our legs -or not-and we talked about the history of the pill, and the personal, economic, and sexual freedom that provided women. I remember talking to my mother about her career choices- limited as they were- and how she shaped that into a lifetime balance of work, children, family and activism. Those were not all in balance all the time, but as the years went by she had more choices.

Today, as I raise three boys, I struggle to instill in them a strong sense of respect for choice in their partners, girlfriends, and acquaintances.  Like my mother before me, I can’t rely on fantasies about human relationships. I must teach them to respect women, to respect choices, and to understand that ultimately, a woman makes the choice about a pregnancy and she always makes decisions about her body and her health care. No ifs, ands, or buts. It is immutable.

We are not moving forward.  Legislators in Alabama and elsewhere are intent on returning us to the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant.  They are intent on making us economically dependent on fathers and husbands. Let’s come together and stop the assault.  Let’s protect ourselves, our children, and our democracy.

The luncheon will be held at the Huntsville Country Club, 2601 Oakwood Avenue, Huntsville. Doors open at 11:30. A buffet luncheon will be served. The luncheon is $20. Non-eating seats are available. Please reserve as soon as possible, and please reserve regardless of whether you plan to eat so that we can ensure sufficient seating.