When it comes to reproductive rights, the conversation often seems to start and end with the out-of-touch men of Washington politics. Throughout U.S. history, this has often left women's rights marginalized — through unsafe access to abortion, contraception, and a choice in the matter. Still, these are precisely the tough conversations we need to be having. Fortunately, some leading ladies — and some leading men! — have taken a stand for the rest of us, offering up some truly badass defenses of our reproductive rights.
If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to explain to someone the seemingly basic concept of reproductive freedom, feel free to take a hint from one of these public figures. These men and women — and the many other vocal supporters of the movement — are helping to make feminism cool. It's quickly going from a seemingly extreme movement of radicals to a more wholesome — and accurate — movement of empowered women, men, and organizations. In the process, it seems like we're having more and more dialogue about reproductive rights, particularly in the political arena, than in previous elections.
It makes sense, then, that reproductive rights seem to matter more to politicians now because they most certainly matter more to voters now. In a survey following the 2014 midterm elections, NARAL found that 86 percent of voters said that protecting reproductive rights was an "important" issue in their voting decision. Just a few years ago, quotes like these might have been discredited as overly radical, but today, it's good to see that we can fully appreciate their badass-ness.
1. Male Lawmakers Sometimes Don't Get It
Who could forget Rep. Todd Akin's cringeworthy "legitimate rape" comment back in 2012? Unfortunate as the statement was, it highlights a larger problem in the argument to restrict reproductive freedom: Men, who are often out-of-touch with the problems that women face, are more often in positions to make decisions than women. For instance, Tina Fey dropped this truth bomb in 2012 while speaking at the Center for Reproductive Rights Gala:
If I have to listen to one more gray-faced man with a two-dollar haircut explain to me what rape is, I'm gonna lose my mind.
Fey's point of view drives home the point that too many people who make decisions about reproductive rights are out of touch with the actual impact that their decisions have.
2. Reproductive Freedom Is About Trust
Mark Ruffalo has become a strong supporter of reproductive rights and a particularly vocal male advocate because of his mother's traumatic experience with an illegal abortion years ago. At a rally in Mississippi in 2013, he reminded us that to take away a woman's reproductive rights is to take away her ability to make decisions for herself.
I actually trust the women I know. I trust them with their choices, I trust them with their bodies, and I trust them with their children. I trust that they are decent enough and wise enough and worthy enough to carry the right of abortion and not be forced to criminally exercise that right at the risk of death or jail time.
If this doesn't make you want to throw up a "preach" emoji, I don't know what will.
3. Nobody Thinks Abortion Is Fun — But It Should Be An Option
Let's get one thing straight here: No one is saying that abortion is a great thing, but it's important that women have the power to make that choice themselves. Being pro-choice doesn't mean you're pro-abortion. That's the point Whoopi Goldberg seemed to make on a 2007 episode of The View.
Very few people want to have abortions. ... Most people do not want to have abortions. Most women do not have them with some sort of party going on. It is the hardest decision that a woman ever has to make, so when you talk about it, a little bit of reverence to the women out there who have had to make this horrible decision.
4. Reproductive Freedom Means Privacy
Abortion, birth control, Plan B — they're all often considered taboo things to talk about in public, particularly around men. Yet some politicians have no problem criticizing women for trying to make their own decisions about reproduction in a personal setting. Ultimately, Ruth Bader Ginsburg summed up this train of thought excellently.
The emphasis must be not on the right to abortion but on the right to privacy and reproductive control.
As if we needed another reason to love RBG.
5. It's A Socioeconomic Issue, Too
Just as the fight for reproductive rights is about more than abortion, it's also about more than gender discrimination. It's about equality in all aspects: race, socioeconomic status, gender, and more.
We will never see a day when women of means are not able to get a safe abortion in this country.
Leave it to Ginsburg to deliver two great one-liners about reproductive rights.
6. Whatever Happened To Work-Life Balance?
No matter how much you love your job or your boss, it would probably feel weird if he/she tried to control your personal life. Again, decisions about reproduction, contraception, etc. should be made on a personal level, not a professional level. A representative from Nevada, Dina Titus made a compelling case for reproductive freedom from employers.
Employers should not be able to impose their religious beliefs on female employees, ignoring their individual health decisions and denying their right to reproductive care. Bosses belong in the boardroom, not the bedroom.
7. Religion Can Be Part Of A Pro-Choice Country
Regardless of your politics, it should be pretty clear that no discussion of reproductive rights is complete without mentioning Hillary Clinton. This quote, in particular, is important because it raises the point that faith can still be involved in the conversation about contraception and abortion if pro-choice policy is the law of the land:
These Democrats will never shame and judge a woman for decisions that are complex and deeply personal, decisions that belong between a woman, her family, her faith, and her doctor; not with her boss or a politician.
In other words, if your faith or belief system prevents you from getting an abortion, then by all means, don't have one. But don't let your belief system make the decision for a woman you don't even know.
These defenses of reproductive freedom take realistic, egalitarian approaches to the issue that has become hyper-politicized in recent election cycles. At the end of the day, reproductive freedom is about more than just women's rights; it's about the right of every individual to have options to make basic health care choices.