72 Comments

Thank you for your work.

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Violence isn't the answer, but there are so many old white male politicians I'd love to kick somewhere very painful.

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How do we get the Democrats in office to speak up more boldly about this? Do women own their own bodies in this country or not?

I lose sleep over this issue.

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To boil it down: in early pregnancy, most abortions are wanted. In later pregnancy most abortions are needed. Reality is more nuanced of course but this is the gist of it.

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Living in Texas, a ‘Christ-haunted’ state (as writer Flannery O’Connor might have described it), our approach needs to be cutting any perception of morality from the anti-abortion argument. The results of the last election returning all these Republicans showed us we have to take a different approach.

There is no biblical basis to oppose abortion (TexasChristians.org). Use of language from medieval alchemy, ‘homunculus’ language like ‘unborn baby’ and ‘preborn human’ should be denounced and replaced by showing actual representations of embryonic and fetal development.

A possible motto: “Bible is breath (Gen 2, Ezekiel 37). Personhood is brain(at 24 weeks).” Then educate people through storytelling to illustrate why late term abortions are a necessary option.

We have no referendum option here. We only have the imperative to seize the moral high ground.

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Don't hold your breath, It's only religion among the populace. The political motivations have more to do with power and control, and so it really doesn't matter which religious books you quote, or when anyone decides that according to the calendar, a fetus becomes a human being.

I'm an atheist. I was raised a Catholic, was an atheist until I became a Muslim in my mid-forties and then left it at age 55. Where does religion actually matter?

If women truly have bodily autonomy, nobody has any say about whether abortion is "permissible," except for women. Not a bible, or any "moral high ground." The problem is 2,000 years of patriarchy and its resulting misogyny. And misogyny long overspilled its religious and cultural borders and is literally everywhere on earth. The question is, how do we beat that?

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Yes! Yes! Yes!!!

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Jessica, I am part of the “everyone else”….in 1963 I found myself pregnant. I was neither the victim of rape nor incest yet I would do anything to terminate the pregnancy. I had an illegal abortion and almost died. It infuriates me when we cede the conversation and only talk about exceptions for rape and incest. You’re so right that NO ONE should be forced to carry a pregnancy to term against their will. How do we convey that in a concise, powerful way?

Judy Loeb, Seniors Taking Action

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Here, here! When we talk about women having to ask for an abortion because they're experiencing complications, or the fetus isn't viable, we are asking men to please, please let us terminate our pregnancies. No one should have to be pregnant and forced to give birth, regardless of their age, health or anything else. It's my body, my life, my future. No one else's.

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Framing the question is the thing that all of the neo-conservatives populists globally have been trained to do. This is precisely why they have been more successful lately in working in opposition to more progressive governments and gradually eroding their political support. It isn’t just about abortion, which is really just a tool being used to gain control. The Republicans jump in first every time with a simplistic and usually erroneous definition of the problem. They count on people becoming attached to the first and loudest rhetoric, especially when they have already instructed them not to believe what anyone else tells them.. They provide unworkable but simple, easy to understand solutions to extremely complicated, multi layered, nuanced problems and suck people into fantastical worlds where only right is right and left is always sinister. The system is broken because Republicans have been quietly working for years to break it. The one hope is that abortion is the tool that backfires on them.

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I do like your exposure of the GOP’s framing of the abortion debate. AND I really think that we must use “she”, “her” and not use “ they”. This is a war on women. This is a concerted effort to control women. Let’s not obscure that in any way. Otherwise Jessica, bravo!

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May 30, 2023·edited May 30, 2023

Agree! We are not only talking to those in our own community. We are trying to persuade an audience that is by definition more conservative on gender issues than we are. Anti-choice legislation is a direct attack on biological females. To frame the issue otherwise reduces the power and persuasiveness of our arguments. We are already too often erased from the conversation in favor of the perceived interests of fetuses and the men who impregnate us. I think we have to resist the temptation to write ourselves out of the conversation about our own basic rights.

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Bravo! A great analysis with terrific practical insight. The only question is why so-called liberal or progressive professional politicians seem not to have any insight or to have avoided speaking in these terms starting months ago. And, oh yes, respect for all women as human beings means no law should impose restrictions on her bodily autonomy except for illegal acts (as defined before Dobbs).

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founding

This is excellent. The importance of framing cannot be overstated!

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Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for every single word in this perfect piece. I will be reposting it, I will be memorizing it VER-freaking-BATIM, and I will NOT stop repeating it. Perfection. Let these words be the answer to ALL of the craziness we are dealing with. Have been trying to organize my own thoughts around exactly this and you just did it so much better than I ever could have. And yes I will credit your brilliance!!! PERFECT ❤️🙌❤️

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I love all your columns, but especially the ones that talk about issues that no one else is talking about. Here are 2 things I would love to see emphasized more: 1)How disrespectful and condescending and insulting it is to women to presume that because they didn’t (or don’t want to ) make a police report, they couldn’t really have been raped, and should not be allowed to get medical care, and to presume that women just walk into a doctor’s office at 35 weeks and say, “gee, I changed my mind,” as opposed to the serious health complications invariably surrounding late term abortions, which we know are a tiny minority of all abortions. And 2) How ignorant, especially compared with medical professionals, most (and mostly male) legislators are about women’s reproductive anatomy and physiology. It can’t be emphasized enough to that since pregnancy is measured from the first day of a woman’s (person with a uterus’s) last period, a 6 week ban is really, at most (if her periods are regular like clockwork) a 2-week ban. The people (mostly men) making the laws literally know nothing about this subject. These are issues that are frequently alluded to, but I think they should be made more explicit.

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The cruelty is the point. Bodily autonomy doesn’t work on people who believe they have a god-given right to control women. (This is far less of a Christian thing than you might assume.)

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Yes this resonates, absolutely correct that it isn't just about the extreme examples and we should not make these the main talking points. Thanks for posting the quote from SB20. I live in NC and just reread the bill and had not realized the absurd horror of that statement until you pointed it out.

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Why are extremists the ones framing the abortion debate? Jessica, I was hoping that you had an answer to this question and a plan of action but I realize it is not that simple.

Women still do not have equal rights in the constitution. Of course our health and well being do not matter to the patriarchy. If we are forced to give birth and we are tied down with children, we will not be able to live our lives to their fullest potential. We will be to busy raising children to make waves about equal rights and bodily autonomy.

Extremists do not trust women, girls, LBGQTIA children or adults to know who they are and what they want/need for their own bodies.

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I believe Extremists don’t trust women, LGBTQIA’s because we DO know what we want and need for our lives!

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"Why are extremists the ones framing the abortion debate?"

Because the squeaky wheels get the grease, and to a large extent, because there are too many people who flee from controversy, especially those who are worried about losing the next election.

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speaking of how to talk, I read a tweet today that kinda rocked my world, it argued we need to stop referring to far-right positions as "conservative". Like I didn't even think about it, but since the word conservative means to keep things as they are, when we say "conservatives are pushing for a national abortion ban", we unwittingly (in a tiny way) help normalize that position. It might be more useful/accurate to say simply "Republicans are pushing for a national abortion ban", or more forcefully "forced birthers on the right are pushing for a national abortion ban".

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I don't use the word "conservative" any more. Maybe it had meaning back in the day, but not now. I mostly use "right-wing nut-jobs" (RWNJs) or "forced birthers", depending on context. Or fascists--because we have plenty of evidence that controlling people's bodies and lives is one thing that fascists love to do. Also, I use the term that the doc I worked for in 1972-3 used when he talked about illegal abortions and the women he cared for. He referred to that as "carnage." In case anybody has forgotten, illegal abortion was the leading cause of death for women aged 15-45 in 1972. When Roe came down in 1973, that doctor came into the office in tears. I think he knew then that the carnage was going to stop--and it did. This was in California, a state that had the most "liberal" abortion laws in the country at the time. That doc died in 2000; maybe we should start taking a leaf from his vocabulary and start (again) calling things what they are. Getting enraged, too.

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