This is a partial cross-post from RH Reality Check. Don’t say I didn’t warn you! (And also, hello, everyone!)
Star Parker penned an op-ed for Newsday recently that demonstrated a stunning lack of understanding about the real meaning of “choice” and attempted yet again to blame the abortion rate in the Black community on Planned Parenthood and Black women.
As I read her piece, I was initially heartened. She’s the only anti-choicer I can recall actually absorbing the pro-choice argument that women who lack access to safe abortion care will resort to unsafe abortion care—because if a woman doesn’t want to be pregnant, she’ll find a way to not be pregnant, by hook or by crook. Parker seems to get that. She writes:
The abortion lobby claims that as long as we have tight regulations on abortion, a black market will exist. Abortion, they argue, is like any product or service that consumers want and government prohibits or overregulates. If they can’t get what they want legally, they will get it illegally.
We also hear that we get Gosnells when government refuses to pay for the abortions of poor women. The Hyde Amendment, which prohibits Medicaid compensation for abortion, makes unsafe abortion inevitable, they say.
According to this reasoning, poor women — desperate because of an unwanted pregnancy, pressed because regulations and costs make abortion difficult to get — turn to sleazebag doctors who will do it cheaply, with no regard for the woman, the law or safety.
Yes! That’s precisely right. The horrors that took place in Gosnell’s clinic are a direct result of policies that have been chipping away at the abortion rights established in Roe v. Wade. Gosnell’s sadistic and illegal abortion practices are the result of injustice in reproductive health care—women who have the right to abortion care but lack safe access.
Despite what anti-choicers would like you to believe, Gosnell is not the norm. He does not represent the type of care that anyone who is pro-choice advocates. He was a murderer and an opportunist who preyed upon the most vulnerable women who chose to terminate a pregnancy, but because of lack of health insurance, lack of public funding for abortion, and prohibitively stringent regulations that have forced abortion clinics to shutter their doors, found themselves with no place else to go. So yes, desperate women will turn to “sleazebag doctors” like Gosnell who have no regard for women’s health, the law, or safety.
By George, I think Star’s got it! But, no, not really. Parker continues:
But it is ironic that those who call themselves “pro-choice” argue that the only alternatives facing low-income women are unsafe abortions done by sleazebags or government-subsidized abortions.
There is another choice, but those who call themselves don’t want women, particularly poor women, to consider it.
This option is called birth.
So close, Star. So close. But, alas, close doesn’t cut it when it comes to respecting women’s right to bodily autonomy.
The point of the term “pro-choice” and the work that pro-choice activists do is to ensure that “choice” encompasses all choices. The choice to have children. The choice to have children when you want to have them. The choice to stop having them after you already have them. It’s the choice to decide for yourself.
Indeed, it’s the same choice Parker made when she chose to have four abortions. Whether or not she regrets those abortions, the fact of the matter is: pro-choice advocacy and the laws which Parker seeks to overturn enabled her to make those choices. And now she would deny those choices to other women because she’s had a change of heart. Now she thinks all women should be forced to give birth against their will. That’s not right. It’s not right and it’s not fair.
Moreover, it’s not reality-based. Women who don’t want to be pregnant will find a way not to be pregnant. Women in Texas are already heading across the border to Mexico to obtain RU-486. “DIY” abortions are on the rise. Simply telling women to “choose birth” ignores that some women simply don’t want to have babies, and no amount of regulations or counseling will change those women’s minds. Choice doesn’t mean “choose birth or choose birth.” That’s not a choice. That’s a mandate. That’s a directive. And that’s a violation of women’s rights as humans.
[read full post at RH Reality Check]
***This post is a follow up to one I wrote a couple weeks ago about Star Parker’s Gosnell press conference.