Lit Spouse and I were recently deciding on our donations through the Combined Federal Campaign, an all-in-one fundraiser that allows federal employees to contribute to non-profit groups through payroll deduction. We talked about how to apportion our donations to different causes we care about, and I skimmed through most of the catalog of charities.

I was interested in donating to groups that work on women’s health, especially reproductive health care. As I paged through the catalog, I noted that there were several anti-abortion organizations of one kind and another; various groups that talk about “life,” and even some “crisis pregnancy centers.” I sighed and shook my head at the strange feeling of seeing groups that work at direct cross-purposes listed near each other.

Then I realized something. Reproductive health care was the only cause for which I could find directly oppositional groups listed. Think about the equivalents: there are charities for taking care of homeless animals, but no Kick The Puppies Foundation. There are charities for taking care of needy people, but no Give Money To Rich People Association. There are groups doing medical care or feeding the hungry both at home and overseas, but no one organizes a non-profit group for the purpose of making people sick or denying them food. These don’t even exist, let alone solicit funds from federal employees.

The closest equivalent is that there are some single-issue (or nearly so) anti-gay groups, some of which have non-profit status. I didn’t see any of them listed in the catalog. There are also groups like the one that promotes the idea that Christians are persecuted, which personally I see as an approach that’s likely to support limitations on the religious liberty of others, but that’s not their announced purpose. There are lots of other groups that deliberately or not support the hegemonic status of Christianity in the US, but again, oppressing minority religions is generally not their announced goal.

When people ask why I care so very much about reproductive health care, and why I am willing to work for it, this is the answer. There is no other single issue that I care about that is under attack in the same way. It is socially acceptable for people to raise funds to deny me and other women our rights to control our own bodies – even in cases where we would be badly hurt or killed.

Let me say that again: It is socially acceptable in this country to raise funds to institute laws that will kill women.

That’s why I work for women’s access to reproductive health care.

7 thoughts on “Why I work on women’s health issues

  1. It is socially acceptable in this country to raise funds to institute laws that will kill women.

    Exactly. Women’s rights are extremely fragile in the United States right now. They play virtually no role in foreign policy and even within the US you can get away with (quite literally) making women sit at the back of the bus. I fear that the US is much closer to the world of The Handmaid’s Tale than any of us would have guessed only a few years ago.

  2. The State Employees’ Charitable Campaign list of charities lists a crisis pregnancy center right below the state Planned Parenthood, and I suspect if I raise a fuss about the first one, it’ll only come off the list if the second one does too, and I like being able to donate $5 a paycheck to Planned Parenthood.

    1. I was thinking the same way. I actually checked, and the requirements for participating in the CFC have to do with non-profit status and accounting procedures. I really wish that distributing wildly inaccurate medical information was cause to have their tax-exempt status yanked, since that’s the real issue I have with CPCs.

  3. I’m pro-choice, but it occurs to me that for the subset of anti-choicers who genuinely believe that an abortion kills a child, your bolded sentence could be easily twisted around.

    “It is socially acceptable in this country to raise funds to institute laws that will kill children.”

    Just playing devil’s advocate.

    1. I understand that’s one position that forced-birthers claim. But then again, if most of them really believe that – to the point of seeing a clump of four or eight cells as a “child” that should be protected even at the cost of my life, when that “child” will never develop, as the “personhood” folks claim – you start to run into the problems of a mismatch between words and actions that Fred Clark has so cogently demonstrated. Even for the people who claim lesser versions of that belief, I think most of them have a slight subconscious awareness that it’s more complicated than that.

      And when it comes right down to it, I care more about what can be proven – women’s lives and deaths are demonstrable, regardless of one’s beliefs, while the theological status of a clump of cells or fetus is not.

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