It is always exciting when one of our colleagues is featured in an important article such as Time Magazine’s Cover article What Choice? Many thanks to Abortion Care Network member Tammi Kromenaker and all her staff and patients at the Red River Women’s Clinic in Fargo, ND for inviting this journalist into their daily routine and letting her see firsthand both the caring provided by an independent abortion provider, and the ridiculous hoops that patients have to jump through. Tammi made sure that the journalist understood some of the complex reasons that women choose abortion. Pickert noted that when a patient wasn’t sure about her choice she was given more time to consider what she wanted to do. She shared many statistics that the public may not be aware of, for example that independent clinics provide the majority of abortions, and that most of the women who have abortions already have children.
But I was sorry to see that, like so much journalism, this article seemed determined to focus on conflict and failure, rather than on the extraordinary energy and transformative gifts of the movement for women’s reproductive choice have yielded over these past forty years.
I know Kate Pickert had access to another perspective of the movement because I had a lengthy interview with her. I shared the fact that there is really nothing new about the Reproductive Justice concept — that what the early women’s movement worked for was a panoply of changes including access to excellent child care; health care; housing; freedom from violence; access to credit; equal pay; progressive divorce laws; an end to forced sterilization; access to understandable consent information for any medical procedures; safe birth control; and, yes, safe and legal abortion. Of course we didn’t see abortion as separate from other aspects of women’s’ lives. What we wanted is what we still want — a society that supports the ability of women to make real choices about their lives — not one in which women have children they don’t want to have because they don’t have access to abortion; or have abortions they don’t want because they can’t afford to have children. I acknowledged that over the years political and legal attacks on abortion have backed us into a corner in which we have often felt we have to protect the most fundamental right to an abortion, and the movement for Reproductive Justice reminds us that we cannot sacrifice any of our fundamental rights without putting them all in jeopardy.