Liveblogging “Roe Is Safe – Now What?” at Feminism 2.0


I’m at Feminism 2.0 today, a one-day conference dedicated to bringing new technologies to feminist organizing.  In the first plenary, the exciting ideas came in equal measure from the panelists and the tweets displayed on a screen behind them.  You can follow the tweetchat here – you’re entering the room "fem2."

I’m now at the first breakout session, a panel including RH Reality Check’s Amanda Marcotte and Cristina Page, called "Roe Is Safe – Now What?"

Amanda Marcotte points out that because Roe is considered safe, because Obama will not appoint a Supreme Court justice will not vote against it, we’ve lost one of the story lines that helps us get our issue into the mainstream news.  Mainstream media aren’t necessarily going to pick up on attacks on contraception, the country’s sorry showing on maternal health, the fight against abstinence-only, etc.

Gretchen Borcheldt, senior counsel at the National Women’s Law Center, is now discussing the Roe decision and how it’s been dismantled since it was first decided.

Gretchen points out that we have five justices who don’t oppose Roe, but who "will vote to undermine Roe completely," and did so in the Carhart decision, which bans an abortion procedure without regard for when it might be in the best interest of the woman’s health.  Carhart also used paternalistic reasoning reminiscent of an earlier age, when the law attempted to protect women from unsafe situations and acts.

"The Roe we say is safe is not necessarily the Roe we want," says Gretchen.

Cristina’s up now. She’s talking about the mobilization of the anti-choice movement around the Freedom of Choice Act; they’re spewing talking points that aren’t correct but are going un-corrected.  They grew under President Bush, bankrolled by abstinence-only and marriage promotion.  Now that they’re not in power, they’re going to create issues to mobilize members around.

We saw the same thing around the Medicaid family planning provision in the economic stimulus — Rep. John Boehner said repeatedly that $200 million was appropriated for the contraception, but there was not $200 million line-item for contraception.  Yet the mainstream media didn’t bother to fact-check this.

During Bush years, the anti-choice movement was on good behavior in terms of violence against providers.  But now that a pro-choice administration is in power, will we see the same uptick in clinic violence that we saw under Clinton?  Early acts of violence suggest we might.

We have an abortion provider shortage and that’s not corrected by the new administration.  Doctors in residency programs aren’t learning the procedure. 

We also know that state-level anti-abortion movement is going to push state restrictions.  Cristina points out that restrictions don’t actually decrease the rate of abortion, but it doesn’t increase the rate of second-trimester abortions.

In the wake of Obama’s election, some anti-choice groups have realized that fighting to ban abortion has no effect on the abortion rate.  Anti-choicers fail by their own standards – their policies do not make the rate of abortion go down – and some have realized this and are looking to create common ground.  "We can cultivate those nascent efforts," says Cristina. 

Amanda points out that anti-legal abortion, pro-contraception people feel like they have no home, except online.  "We can be nice to them, make them feel at home," says Amanda. 

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  • alexm

    I wish I could have participated in this.  I am trying to get these messages out to Canadian students … it’s time for Canada to move into the Obama era – political apathy is no longer an option.  Getting kids to care in Canada is a Herculean task in itself – throw in the word "feminism" and it’s no wonder even my friends in the faculty of social work have reservations about my visions for the future of the women’s movement.

     

    One idea I’m considering is "feminist roundtables", using Obama’s roundtable model.  I believe that in order to move beyond identity politics we need to focus on what brings us together (despite socially constructed and/or biological identities).  This can be achieved by meeting in physical space rather than the virtual world.

     

    It’s time to "get off the internet" as Le Tigre admonished us in 2001. 

    The personal is political.