This is no time to sit on the sidelines

To my two adult daughters in their 20s-

I hope you know what is a stake with all this shouting about birth control and access to safe and legal abortion. It hasn’t really been that long since the pill was introduced in 1960 as a safe and effective means not only of planning for/avoiding pregnancy, but as a prescription treatment for certain cancers, endometriosis, acne, and cysts involving the ovaries.

Before 1965, married couples didn’t have legal and private access to birth control. Can you imagine anyone telling you, responsible adults, that? Listen to the Conservatives now. They aren’t just telling you, they are it.

The Comstock Act, a holdover from 1873, made it illegal to even mail information about birth control because it was “obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious.” Ditto for actual birth control devices. Comstock hasn’t been wiped from the books, but the definition of obscene has changed (can you imagine television without Sex and the City or movies that even hintĀ at sex?)

And please be aware that while your may think your parents are older than Methuselah, some of my friends remember when Roe v Wade made abortion safe and legal (1973 isn’t that long ago, really. We even had color televisionĀ then.)

Which brings me to the tirades which have exploded over women’s reproductive rights since Susan G. Komen pulled its support of Planned Parenthood. That opened the door for more of us to see how threatened those rights are now. Access to safe and reliable birth control isn’t just for women. It is for their male partners/husbands/one night stand guys/boyfriends. It is for you, your sister, your nieces and nephews, your friends, and the children you have now or may want to have later.

Last Thursday Rep Darrell Issa (R-California) convened at panel of “experts” to discuss the mandated coverage of birth control. You may notice that all of the “experts” are men.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This expert was shut out making comments before the panel.

Sandra Fluke is young, healthy, bright (a third year law student at Georgetown) and like you, has plans, dreams and ambitions for her career and personal life. She made her way to Congress last week to comment, but was shut out so that five men, five “experts,” none of whom will ever be pregnant, could tell Rep Issa’s panel what needs to be done about requiring access to birth control for all women.

Sandra Fluke left the Congressional hearing room with Democratic leaders last Thursday when they learned who Rep Issa deemed worthy of testifying. Yesterday she returned to testify to a room filled with people who value what women have to say about their health and access to care.

Rep Issa insists that his hearing was about health care reform and religious freedom. His hearing was certainly about freedom: it was about the freedom of women to choose the type of birth control they want so they can plan when and if they want to have children.

You don’t have to testify before a Congressional panel to make your thoughts known. But you have to speak up and you need to do it now. Call or email your Congressional Representative. Tell both of your Senators too. Stand side by side with the people who worked tooth and nail for birth control to be legal and available today. Too much is at stake to sit on the sidelines.

 

About Katherine Helms Cummings

During the day I am a social and environmental activist whose professional work has been in the nonprofit world for the last 12 years. Most nights and weekends I am an artisan making accessories with upcycled cashmere and woven textiles. My handmade items are available at The Sassy Gal http://thesassygal.org
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3 Responses to This is no time to sit on the sidelines

  1. Laurel says:

    This is just as important as the crucial environmental
    issues normally addressed in this blog. Thank you, thank you
    for placing some historical perspective. I cannot, and never
    will understand why so many men feel it is their ‘right’ to decide
    what to do with our bodies!!