Feminism / Health

Gay Marriage and Weed Have Gone Mainstream. When Will Abortion?

One of the simplest ways to see how progress is happening (or not happening) is to observe attitudes around issues.

Nothing against weed, but weed will probably be legalized in all states before abortion, and the thought of that makes me crazy. I’m all about weed, in the most casual, recreational, and fun sense of it. I understand that there’s a legitimate medical need for it, which, in all other cases, overrides the fun part. I also understand that the war on drugs has been long fought, and is a gouging aspect of our racist justice system. And nothing against gay marriage, but there are more legitimate issues directly relating to the harm toward those in the queer community than in which states same sex marriage is won.

In a time where more and more states have begun to legalize and begin to see weed as harmless, and gay love as “same love” or whatever, we’re also facing issues with other states beginning to tighten their hold on basic health for women. Even with the minor triumphs in Mississippi and Alabama, this feels like an incredible struggle. Gay marriage and weed legalization have both seen an increase in acceptance over the years, but abortion is stagnant, and in some cases, backsliding in terms of public attitudes. Why have attitudes shifted so dramatically with some of these issues, and not at all toward abortion? Popular culture has increased the visibility and normalization of gay rights and smoking weed, but to talk or joke about women’s health is still icky, and scary.

abortion gay marriage and weed insight over time

The weird part is that despite the regression, the majority of Americans still believe that early term abortion is justifiable for cases of rape, incest, or when the mother’s life is threatened. (I am an all cases sort of girl, but we can fight about that in the comments.) And yet, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, and LouisianaSouth Carolina, and Oklahoma, have all made great efforts to shut down every last clinic they have. To date, there are no rural clinics in Texas, which means that if a woman in one of the poorer or more remote parts of the state so much as wants to get a free or low-cost pap smear, it is now completely impossible without taking days off work and traveling long distances. Texas is paving the way for legislative and bureaucratic restrictions on women’s health, and other states are following suit.

Several months ago, a New Jersey abortion counselor, Emily Letts, filmed her own abortion. In the video, she can be seen reflecting on her choice and taking deep breaths with her eyes closed while the doctor performs the procedure.

Since abortion is both a highly politicized and a highly intimate procedure, most people don’t get adequate insight into it before deciding it’s a good idea to talk about it. Efforts like Letts’ video, or creative projects such as Jenny Slate’s film, Obvious Child, serve to normalize an aspect of women’s health that is usually demonized. But there’s definitely backlash. Many people criticized these women for glorifying abortion, claiming that they spun what some felt was a very authentic experience, into an overly positive one. It was reported that even NBC refused to run an ad for the Obvious Child film, simply because it contained the word “abortion.” Anne Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League said of the video, “I would hope the day will come when she realizes encouraging other women to blithely kill their children without any remorse at all is an irresponsible, juvenile and immature thing to do.”

When talking about abortion under the lens of women’s health, if it doesn’t show how abortion is bad, the very topic becomes glorification. In neither instance did abortion seem like any “fun,” but this of course stands in contrast to the coverage of endless actual partying that took place after weed was legalized in Colorado.

These normalization efforts are still met with resistance mainly because of misogyny. It’s not that abortions are unacceptable, it’s that women are. Abortion rights, and the closing of these clinics are more important than issues that are gaining ground, but the political ground anti-choice policies have begun to make stems from the lack of conversation—a conversation we need to have. We still talk about abortion the same way we talk about sexual assault, periods, birth control, and any other issue pertinent to women’s safety and well being—that is, we’re not supposed to talk about it. It’s safest to discuss in women’s spaces, but even then, there is fear of possible judgment, blame, and guilt, all emotions women are familiar with when it comes to addressing their bodies and reproductive rights.

Before we can start recognizing the need for these clinics, it’s important that we begin to recognize the need to increase the visibility of women’s health. Abortion can still be a personal and important struggle, but it can’t be off limits or subject to shame or fear mongering. For many women, it’s painless, life-changing, and an absolute necessity.


8 thoughts on “Gay Marriage and Weed Have Gone Mainstream. When Will Abortion?

  1. Letts’ video, for lack of the ability to articulate my feelings, is doing good work. Personally I feel like Legalizing Marijuana is important work because of the insane amounts of money we spend on “the war on drugs” like you wrote in your article. I also feel like the LGBTQIA+ community is winning philosophical ground with every state that passes legislation for gay marriage. But I agree with you that at times it feels like the basic rights the generations of the 60s and 70s fought to give to us are being systematically challenged and diminished, or even wiped out completely, and I wonder if my own generation has what it takes to stand up to those who control power and tell them what matters to us. It may seem cynical, but I think most of us have bought into the mythology that we are powerless to change any system backed by millions of dollars in the states. Beyond that I know plenty of folks who agree with the culture that demonizes women’s health issues. So, the people who would oppose that misogynist narrative seem thoroughly convinced that they would be unable to affect change in their world, and then within our own generation are people who believe deep down that women should be second class citizens, and in that equation I am very sad for the future… but I like to think of myself as a writer, and as such I might be a bit of a drama queen and see 1984 in every sign of currents shifting and moving away beyond my control. So, in your opinion, how do we begin breed awareness and change in a generation mired in both apathy and cynicism, and seemingly paralyzed into submission because of it?

  2. I enjoyed your contribution to a topic that we so need to talk about. As a woman who was brought up Catholic I was always taught that the pro choice movement was the wildly accepted one that needed to be fought against. Now that I am older (and thinking for myself) I have been exposed to more women’s rights issues (as well as other issues) and can see that sadly that is not the case. It’s frightening how we are regressing in this aspect of women’s health. I read and highly recommend the book The story of Jane. After reading about what those women went through to help other women reclaim their bodies and create a support system for them just to see all their efforts being swept away now is heartbreaking. This is not and should not be an issue of morality but of women’s health, equality, and well being in all aspects.

  3. The whole thing about how early abortions are considered okay in cases when the mother’s life is threatened—technically, no pregnancy is 100% safe and there can always be unforeseen complications. People seem to forget that a lot.

    Great post.

  4. I think people tie religion and the idea of life and death to abortion. People kill people over religious views, and they don’t want any embryo to get hurt in the process. The U.S. is really weird about sex and abortion inherently brings up the topic of sex, which many are uncomfortable with (exemplified by how awkward people get when they see a woman breastfeeding). Our culture disrespects the female body in a multitude of ways, the unwillingness to see abortion as a women’s health issue is one of them.

  5. Cannabis is less harmful than tobacco and alcohol, two very legal and available DRUGS. But since Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol contribute to so many political campaigns, they can buy out the competition. it’s just that damn simple. Take the money out of politics (good luck with that…) and pot will be legal inside 5 years in America. Maybe.

    Gay marriage… i couldn’t care less. In fact, if these schmucks and schmuckettes want to go through the same legal trauma as hetero couples… well, be careful what you wish for. The first lesbian divorces with kids involved could get touchy, as the woman by default gets custody of the children… oops. May they live in interesting times.

    • Actually, when custody cases go to court, the man wins more often. The woman being awarded custody “by default” stems from men not wanting to fight it out.

      Also this article is about abortion? Just weird that you left out your dose of reality on that.

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