This post is part of our week-long series on the personal impact of the current state of reproductive health, rights, and justice.
by Tawny Tidwell
Tidwell is Treasurer of The Lilith Fund.
Despite growing up with a mom who made me attend a prolife rally along the side of a major road in the small Oklahoma suburb I grew up in, I have always been pro-choice. I use “pro-choice” deliberately because, despite being lower middle class in a single parent household, I did not live in the kind of conditions that might have revealed issues with choice v access, and I certainly lacked the education in feminism and healthcare that would’ve revealed the disparities to me anyway.
There is no shortage of women trapped in tricky situations in Oklahoma, and I was acquainted with the concept of shotgun marriage and the burden that children can pose at a very young age. Many of my friends growing up lived in trailers, or broken homes in subdivisions that were slightly better obscured by class markers. I remember more than one occasion where I watched mothers of friends drink to excess, get hit by her husband, and spend time looking like she’d just been crying (these are all different women at different times, if the scope isn’t clear).
There were very clear and unfair gender lines drawn in the sand, and I was playing for the team that had higher stakes and a stronger chance at losing. When someone introduced me to the concept of abortion, and that it had been legalized, rather than share their horror, I was elated. Wow, so there is a failsafe, was more or less my thought as a child.
I spent most of my life considering abortion that way. I knew that if I really needed to have one, there was probably a way. I mocked women more educated than me for standing up against further restrictions on minors, wait times, and all those other restrictions pro-lifers like to impose. I thought we all knew better, could afford it, understood.
It wasn’t until 2009, with the assassination of Dr. Tiller, that I even began to understand what was at stake. I remember waking up that morning and checking Pandagon, seeing the update, not understanding fully that this had happened mere hours ago. “People still do this?” was all I could think. A memorial fund, via Steph Herold and I Am Dr. Tiller, was making the rounds. I clicked to learn more.
Now, two years later, I am on the board of The Lilith Fund in south Texas working to make access to reproductive healthcare a reality. I look back at the younger me that thought there was nothing at stake and that Roe being settled law was all we needed. Now I know that there is work to be done. I think strong outreach towards Millennials and their younger peers needs to be the focus in 2013.
The movement needs money, yes, but it needs to educate up and coming future leaders on intersectional issues and empower them with the tools to do the work even more. I’m grateful to be in the position I’m in, to have the voice that I have, but I am always looking for new people who can replace me when I start to lack relevance, [and I hope to eventually hand off my position in the tradition James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem recognizes: “to better-looking people with better ideas and more talent. (And they’re actually really, really nice.)”]
[Editor’s Note: more people than just cis women need and want access to affordable reproductive health care, including abortion.]
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