Writing at the intersection of motherhood, feminism and my Latinidad

28 February 2008

The Problem with Pro-Choice

Many feminists, especially feminists of color, have made excellent platforms of why we, feminists/progressives, need to stop saying pro-choice. The bottom line is that pro-choice usually focuses just on abortion rights and maybe birth control. In reality, we should be fighting for reproductive justice - abortion, artificial fertilization, having healthy babies, and the right to birth where we want and with whom.

One reason why I have a problem with pro-choice is that it is often used as short hand for a candidate's stance on women's health. And oh how wrong that can be!

Example 1: Peter Roskam, IL-6th District (R)
He was elected to office in 2006 over a woman war-veteran. She had the backing of many women's organizations especially pro-choice organizations. It was recently brought to my attention that he brought home the bacon! Specifically $243,000 for Access Community Health for mental health treatment and chronic diseases. I was seriously floored when my friend told me that he brought home this much money for health care, especially chronic care which effects women more.

Example 2: Cook County President Todd Stroger (D)
Two years ago his father fell ill from a stroke and never recovered. Of course, Todd & Co. (family & party) kept saying he'd be ok. Pappa won the primary from his hospital bed. As soon as it was too late for a replacement to be democratically chosen, the Stroger family said that Pappa was too ill to run for re-election and Pappa named Todd as his successor. Todd ran a hard race against right-wing Tony Periaca. Again the pro-choice organizations came out in force and I even recall one mailer that put the fear of Roe in me. What does it matter if the country president is pro-choice? Cook County runs one of the biggest hospitals for the poor in the country AND does free abortions. *DING*

Today I get an email from the Chicago Foundation for Women:

What happened? The Cook County Board of Commissioners last night rejected a budget amendment to reduce the backlog of mammograms at Cook County Hospital, by a vote of eight to nine. At least 6,800 women could have received mammograms if the amendment had passed.

What did the amendment say? President Todd Stroger’s proposed 2008 budget gave each commissioner an extra $60,000 for their staffs’ salaries, more than $1 million in total. Last night, commissioners Quigley, Claypool and Schneider proposed redirecting that money to pay for mammograms at Cook County Hospital. Unfortunately, a majority of commissioners put their “staffs over women’s health,” as the Daily Herald reported on its front page today.
I'm not saying that I wish Periaca had won or that I'm glad that Roskam did. What these two instances show is that being pro-choice is not always pro-woman. We need to ask candidates more questions, even if our most trusted organizations say they are ok.

BTW - Click on the CFW link above and send a than you to your Cook Co. Commish if he voted the right way. Shame on all the women of Cook County for voting AGAINST women's health. Considering that the late-Pappa Stroger didn't go to Cook County when he had a stroke, something tells me that none of the women on the board go there for mammograms.

Technorati tags: Cook County, Todd Stroger, Personal PAC, pro-choice, feminism, abortion


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