Feminist struggles for equality have long included demands for sexual autonomy and abortion rights. As Andrea Dworkin put it in her classic book Right-Wing Women, freedom for women is
predicated on, and could not exist without, her own absolute control of her own body in sex and reproduction. This included not only the right to terminate a pregnancy but also the right to not have sex, to say no, to not be fucked.
The Texas Legislature’s push to pass more restrictive abortion legislation has sparked intensive debate. In his article “Expanding the dead-end debate over abortion,” Robert Jensen draws on that radical feminist tradition to remind us that
this debate takes place in a male-dominated society in which women are routinely at risk, including at home. Though many think it’s an old-fashioned word, the United States is a patriarchal society, and in patriarchy women are not safe from men’s control and men’s violence. A continuum of domination—from subtle forms of harassment and coercion, to physical assault and rape—means that many women become pregnant under conditions in which meaningful options are severely limited. To further constrain women by limiting access to abortion further entrenches male dominance.
For a reminder of what life for women was like before abortion was legal, watch the short documentary “When Abortion Was Illegal: Untold Stories.” Other film/video work by the director, Dorothy Fadiman, is online at “Choice at Risk.”
For a reminder of how women fought back even when abortion was illegal, consult the documentary “Jane: An Abortion Service” and read about the Jane project.