jessica valenti

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Bravo for Wendy Davis, but our abortions are none of your business

When her memoir hits stores in the middle of her campaign for Texas governor on Tuesday, readers will be privy to extremely personal moments in the public life of Wendy Davis. Early excerpts of the book revealed over the weekend show that Davis had two abortions - one that terminated a dangerous ectopic pregnancy and another that ended a second-trimester pregnancy after a doctor found severe fetal abnormalities.

In a political climate so antagonistic to women and reproductive rights, this kind of disclosure is undoubtedly brave. But in a world where there is no privacy for women and their bodies, it’s shameful that we have to lay bare our reproductive lives just so others can – maybe, if we’re lucky – view us as full people.

Because, really, women’s abortions are none of your business – not even those of a public figure, not even one who became an international figure because of abortion rights. We shouldn’t have to explain ourselves or justify our life decisions: our abortions are ours alone.

Read the rest at the Guardian US.

There is one thing that suicidal rape victims need: immediate assistance. But for one young woman in Ireland who was pregnant and seeking an abortion after reportedly being attacked, the only thing her government offered was the slow, bureaucratic violation of her humanity.

The unnamed woman, now 18, was reportedly raped as a minor and sought an abortion just eight weeks into her pregnancy. Even after experts found her to be suicidal – a prerequisite for abortion under a new Irish law – she was denied access to the procedure. According to a report by the Sunday Times, the woman, who is not an Irish citizen, believes that the government deliberately delayed her case – both through the state’s decision to ignore psychiatric experts and via her inability to travel because of her legal status – so that she would have to carry the pregnancy at least through the fetus’s viability. After going on a hunger strike, she was forced to undergo a caesarean section at just 25 weeks into her pregnancy.

That’s 17 full weeks after she first sought help.

That is not a policy; it’s a persecution.

From my latest at The Guardian, A pregnant, suicidal rape victim fought Ireland’s new abortion law. The law won.

The decision to grant admitting privileges to doctors is generally a function of the business arm of the hospital, and part of what those decision-makers take into consideration is how many patients - and how much money - a doctor will bring in. So abortion providers - who almost never transfer patients to hospitals - may not be able to get privileges precisely because abortions are so safe.

The latest fad in anti-choice law is a lie, my latest at the Guardian US

I think abortion should be legal without any restrictions – no parental consent laws, no mandated ultrasounds, no waiting periods, no bans on late term abortions and no bans on federal funding for abortion. I also believe people should be able to become parents when they want, how they want and without interference from the government. (If you think restrictions on abortion and restrictions on parenthood are unrelated, you are wrong.)

If that were the law of the land, it would also mean an end to rape and incest exceptions – because we wouldn’t need them. Women wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) have to prove that their abortion is of the “acceptable” variety. We wouldn’t (and shouldn’t) have to pretend that women who are forced into sex are somehow more deserving of medical care than women who chose to have sex. We could rid ourselves of the hierarchy of “good” and “bad” abortions.

The decision to have an abortion is personal and complicated, and any legislation that seeks to control such decisions is based on an anti-choice ideology that thinks very little of women. It assumes that women, if not kept in check by the government, are not to be trusted to make good decisions about their bodies and families.

Commenters at the Guardian asked me: Am I actually arguing that there should be no legal limitations on abortion?

The short answer: yes.


Read more here.