By: Jason Lydon*/TRT Columnist–
The Eastern Massachusetts Abortion (EMA) Fund is currently engaged in their second annual “Triathlon” fundraiser. This innovative triathlon includes Wii bowling, karaoke and board games at the Milky Way in Jamaica Plain on April 11; who said triathlons had to include running, swimming and biking? According to their website, the EMA Fund “provides women with financial counseling and with money for their abortions. We negotiate with abortion providers for discounts, and we help women pay for bus or train tickets, childcare and translation services. We know that if you don’t have money, abortion might as well be illegal. For us, access to abortion is a matter of social justice, reproductive justice, economic justice, fairness and human rights.” Funding for abortions is an essential part of queer life.
Lesbian & Bisexual Women More Likely To Experience Unintended Pregnancy
Did you know that, according to the Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, lesbian and bisexual young women are more than twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to experience unintended pregnancy? Do you know queer-identified women who have had an abortion at any point in their life? Do you think people feel safe to tell you their experiences with abortion? Are you able to talk openly about the ways abortions can be transformative and liberating for many people? What questions about abortion are you comfortable with, and which ones make you anxious or angry?
Abortion is a blessing & there’s more work to be done
Concluding her powerful sermon to abortion-rights activists and clergy, Rev. Dr. Katherine Ragsdale proclaimed boldly, “These are the two things I want you, please, to remember — abortion is a blessing and our work is not done.” Too often those of us who support the right of an individual to make choices about their bodies end up making apologies for the existence of abortion. We tell ourselves and others that these practical medical procedures are emotionally damaging and cause deep hardships. Rev. Ragsdale encourages us to think and act differently. Just as the beauty of new life is miraculous, so too is it miraculous for someone to choose to live their lives the way they want to. Abortions are a beautiful gift that allows people who become pregnant to make a choice about how their bodies will exist in the world.
Women’s Rights & Choices regarding their bodies
The right for a woman to make choices about her body has been flooding the media. The recent congressional panel on contraception organized by Republican Chairman Darrell Issa got a lot of attention with its nearly complete lack of women’s representation. One of the religious leaders on the panel accused the Obama Administration’s plan to require insurance coverage for contraception as “soul rape.” The outrage inspired by this rhetoric is important and is fueling dialogue about the right of women to control their bodies. However, we cannot allow the conversation to be dictated by misogynistic concepts. The fight for access to contraception need not be an apologetic one. Sex is not something to be embarrassed by or discreet about. Heteropatriarchy silences the greatness of sensuality and relegates the debate to procreative sex, but we must queer the conversation and expand the borders of what is acceptable.
International Women’s Day: Reproductive Justice is essential
March 8 is International Women’s Day. I want to encourage everyone to use this day of recognition to focus on the need for reproductive justice in our society. The National Women’s Law Center defines the reproductive justice movement as “the right of individuals to have the children they want, raise the children they have, and plan their families through safe, legal access to abortion and contraception. The movement also supports the right to express one’s sexuality without oppression. In order to make these rights a reality, the movement recognizes that reproductive justice will only be achieved when all people have the economic, social and political power to make healthy decisions about their bodies, sexuality and reproduction.” As the fight continues to eliminate all forms of oppression, take time to talk with your friends about giving together to the EMA Fund and even consider showing up at the Milky Way on April 11 to cheer on the triathletes.
*Rev. Jason Lydon is a Unitarian Universalist minister in Boston. He is a long time anti-prison organizer and founder of Black & Pink, an LGBTQ focused effort working towards the abolition of the prison industrial complex. Jason is also an avid lover of famous people and blockbuster action flicks. You can reach Jason at [email protected]