I don't usually stray too far into controversial political issues other than FA, and I don't plan to make this blog a regular platform. But there's a disturbing thing happening in Michigan, and it has to do with my reproductive rights.
The Michigan senate is considering a bill (SB600) that would allow drivers to purchase an official license plate with a "Choose Life" logo on it. $25 from the purchase of the plate would go to the organization Right to Life, which claims to simply offer "abortion alternatives," but in reality is an active political lobby for criminalizing abortion and denying funds to organizations like Planned Parenthood, which provides many uninsured women their only opportunity to get routine health care like pap and pelvic exams, access to birth control, etc. (only a tiny portion of Planned Parenthood's operations involve abortion).
Oh, and there's no option to purchase a plate that supports the other side of the issue. The state is only interested in endorsing the anti-abortion stance.
Now when I say I'm pro-choice, I mean that I absolutely support a woman's right to choose to not have an abortion. I support women who think it is the wrong choice for them, and who decide to either raise the child or put it up for adoption. But the key word in that is "choose." Choosing to not have an abortion, and taking away MY right to choose whether to have one, are two very different things.
I think that this issue is an extension of the idea that a woman's body does not belong to her. This same idea leads to people feeling justified in judging, criticizing, and attempting to control our bodies in other ways. Weight, for example. Anyone who's listened to office gossip knows that our culture (including most women) feel that a woman's body is a public object. She has a social obligation to "maintain" it according to society's standards or face society's wrath. In part, a woman is blamed if she is raped or harassed because to some extent our culture sees her as already belonging to other people (especially to men) and her body was never her's to defend. Likewise, we have to fight against the expectation that our purpose (other than decorative) is as a machine for the reproduction of genetic material not our own. What could be a more personal expression of our ownership of our bodies then deciding whether to give up nine months or more of our lives, threaten our physical and mental health, our economic security, and every other priority, to grow a human being? Of course having the right to say no to that challenges every cultural assumption that we do not own our bodies.
I don't think that the state of Michigan has any business becoming an endorsement mill for divisive political organizations. I have no problem with their using the plates for sports teams (as they offer every team in the state). If they're crossing the line into political positions such as abortion, they need to make sure that people on both sides of the issue have an equal chance to express their views. Denying them even that choice pretty much sums up what's wrong with this situation.
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