While on tour this year, I felt an uncomfortable cramping near my crotch. It was somewhere between Arkansas and Oklahoma that I realized what it was. The government was tightening its grip on my uterus.
In Kansas, my uterus signed up for a sex education class but the only subject taught was abstinence. In West Virginia, my uterus got tired of abstinence and got a prescription for birth control, but my health insurance company wouldn’t pay for it. As a result, by Texas my uterus was pregnant and sought pre-natal care, but there wasn’t any because state legislators decimated Planned Parenthood’s funds.
Conservatives proclaim to detest government interference in one’s life. Republicans make careers out of repealing regulations. Yet, both groups seem obsessed with restricting what goes on inside my uterus. It got so bad this year that at one point, I think Congress believed that controlling my uterus would create more jobs.
Now, my uterus may not see ovary to ovary with other uteruses across the land. But no matter where we reside, we are all American uteri and as such are guaranteed a fundamental human right, the right to privacy. But without much outcry, my uterine rights are shriveling away.
In the first half of last year, 80 abortion restrictions were enacted in male-dominated legislatures across my country, more than tripling the 23 enacted in 2010. The last half of the year was gloomier yet, marked by Mississippi voters pondering an initiative that would have declared a fertilized egg a legal person and Health and Human Services Secretary Katheleen Sebelius overruling the FDA’s decision to make Plan B emergency contraception available over the counter for all women.
In Missouri and eight other states, my uterus is required to receive counseling in person before waiting 24 hours for an abortion, necessitating two separate trips to any clinic. In Georgia and ten other states, my body must receive verbal information about the ability of a fetus to feel pain. In North Carolina and four other states, it has to be given written materials that show medically inaccurate connections between abortion and infertility and between abortion and the possibility of developing breast cancer.
There are some rare places in the U.S. where my uterus is free. In California, a law requires health-insurance plans that cover prescription medication to provide the same coverage for contraception. In Hawaii, low-income women are provided access to abortion. In Maryland, women seeking reproductive-health care are protected from blockades and violence, as are medical staff. In Connecticut, Maine, Washington and Oregon state laws protect a woman’s right to choose. And just last week the Obama administration ruled that most insurance plans must cover contraception for women free of charge.
Even though access to abortion has been legal for almost 40 years, there’s been a backwards change — a slow but steady movement to manipulate what my uterus can and cannot do. Therefore, I shall resort to what I learned in self-defense class. If someone lays their hands on you without your permission, look them in the eye and state in a loud and controlled voice “LET GO.”
LET GO OF MY UTERUS, LAWMAKERS.
If you would like to control something, I suggest requiring law schools to teach reproductive rights law. Only one out of every five American Bar Association-approved law schools have offered a course in reproductive rights law in the last eight years. Law school graduates quickly become the judges and politicians responsible for abortion policies. Why not guarantee that they are well educated on reproductive rights law?
While others fight for the right to dominate my uterus, be warned. This year, it plans to lead a movement to bring back the single-issue vote. It will campaign to elect pro-choice legislators to replace those meddling with my private parts.
Uterus owners can’t rest on decades-old victories that are being legislated away. Yesterday was the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. One year ago this month, President Obama said in his State of the Union address that our destiny remained our choice. I, along with my uterus, have the right to choose my own destiny. Reproductive rights are human rights and mine are being abridged. Warning world: Permission not granted.
Guerrilla Girls On Tour! is an internationally acclaimed touring theatre company, one of three groups that formed when the original Guerrilla Girls split into three new groups in 2001. As artistic director of the troupe, Aphra Behn has written and directed over 200 performances in 38 states and 13 countries, creating theatre that takes a hilarious look at the current state of women in the arts and beyond. Each member of Guerrilla Girls On Tour! takes the name of a dead woman artist and when they appear in public they wear gorilla masks to conceal their true identities. They are the 2010 recipients of Yoko Ono’s Courage Award for the Arts.