this is not a festival that people know about—and as fucked up at it is, i wouldn’t want it to be. but do you see my point? feminists have been coming to michigan to “be free” for thirty years—all while never much giving a shit about those women in the surrounding town who can’t get abortions because oh, there’s not a planned parenthood past saginaw or their native women who have to go to the reservation hospital, which of course, won’t do abortions.
I want to say something really frankly. This House Bill has been a big deal to me even independent of everything else because of who I am and where I live, because it is so immediately and imminently impacting my life. Why? Because, truly, honestly, the ability to get an abortion if I need one has always, always, always been something I have taken for granted. Because my mother fought for this shit when she was my age, because I have always lived within an hour of a place that performs them, because even when I was poor I know that people in my community would be willing and able to scrounge a few hundred dollars for me. (Because, also, I have to say, I’ve almost always fucked dudes with guilty feminist consciences and at least middle class parents. When you need an abortion, that helps.) This crisis has troubled me for all of these really selfish reasons, and that’s totally okay. I don’t think it’s okay to privilege these kinds of narrow, white-dominated struggles as the definitive Feminist struggles, but I’m not necessarily mad at eighteen year-old white cis women who are suddenly more scared than they have ever been because they can’t get abortions. Not really, anyway. That’s not really what makes me mad.
But let me return to my own historic sense of abortion entitlement. It is, it is. I have felt entitled to abortion access my entire life, and I have never felt like anything could prevent this access for **me**. But this snippet from MMM’s post is so important because so many people in this state have not been able to access abortions not only because of money but because of the nature of this state. People in the UP can’t readily access abortions, indigenous people can’t readily access abortions, anyone north of Saginaw can’t readily access abortions, anyone in the thumb can’t readily access abortions, almost no one on the west side of the state can readily access abortions. The people that are really being immediately hurt by these measures are people in metro-mid-michigan (me) and people in southeast michigan.
I will qualify that statement, though. The new impositions this bill will force on clinics will absolutely harm poor urban and rural abortion providers much more than it will harm suburban metro-detroit providers and, you know, me. I was thinking about this a good deal when I was at Planned Parenthood the other day, wondering about the fate of that particular branch. The East Lansing PP recently closed down, so the Lansing PP is now serving MSU students as well as the mostly WOC (and lots and lots of immigrant) communities that are the Lansing branch’s main patrons. I know for a fact that the recent closing of the EL branch has drawn attention from campus feminists and campus women-centric administrative organizations, and I know that there’s a new focus in these groups on getting MSU students to the Lansing Planned Parenthood. As much as it sucks to say this, and even as I recognize the precariousness given MSU’s conservative leaning, I think that if any Planned Parenthood survives this shit, it will be the one that serves MSU. It will be the one that MSU ~Supportive Services gives students free bus tokens to get to.*
*1. who is giving women in Lansing free bus tokens to Planned Parenthood?** 2. this branch doesn’t perform abortions, i don’t think, but this is still pertinent
**p. sure the women’s center of greater lansing does, but i’m being facetious
Returning again to my own entitlement and my own fear, though. I’m not going to let this turn into another argument about whether there is a racial/class dynamic involved in forcing women to have children (BECAUSE WHYYY), but I have to say a few things. I feel entitled to not have to perform maternal labor because I am a white woman who went to college and lives in a city. When I say “I can’t be a mother right now” it has everything to do with me thinking “I went to college, I got this life so that I don’t have to do that.” THAT’S REAL, THAT’S A THING. It’s not the only story, of course, but it is a very real one. It is a very, very, very real story for the children of very poor mothers who somehow got educated in spite of everything. And you know what else? My family, and all their fucking children and all their maternal reverie, would FULLY SUPPORT me getting an abortion because they would say that they helped get me here so that I can have **more** than they have. I don’t think it’s right but it is REAL. Women in my community FEEL THAT WAY.
(My dad’s side of the family was never poor. If I got pregnant they would never say “I don’t want you to throw away the life that you ~~~worked for.” They would say “this is the life you were destined for. THAT kind of labor. Because your mother was a welfare whore.” THIS IS A THING, STOP TELLING ME I’M DUMB OR BAD AT THEORY OR WHATEVER FOR TALKING ABOUT HOW HAVING BABIES IS ABOUT CLASS IN MY FAMILY. THIS IS A THING.)
I had a single welfare mother. I could write so much about what she went through and the advantages she had because she was white. I can tell you about how when I was a baby and everything was so precarious for her, she BOUGHT IN to the shit about welfare moms, even though she was on the street (with me used as a prop) when Engler was cutting welfare. How she stopped with her internalized classism once she **knew** that I had a future that was better than hers, once she knew that I could go to college and I wouldn’t end up a welfare mother (maybe). That’s REAL.
I feel entitled to abortion access because I am ~~too educated. Because I live somewhere I always could get abortions. What does that mean? How much does a fear of being a Welfare Mom contribute to feelings about abortion? (Like, ask any rich girl I went to high school with who got pregnant at sixteen. Ask them why their conservative dads were so quick to shell out abortion cash, and god bless ‘em, really.)
No matter how many ~~misogynistic native men Eve Ensler wants mutilate, was she here for the native women in Michigan when they couldn’t access abortions? No, obviously, no.
But of course everyone is and should be entitled to abortions. Don’t ever let that be a question. (Of course, again, all children should be entitled to lunch but, as MMM keeps saying, the f*eminists don’t care about that.)