The 2012 elections are over, all the rape-y guys lost, and a record number of women were voted into office. So we’re done, right? I can stop watching MSNBC constantly? The Republican Party realizes how off-base they were about reproductive rights issues, don’t they? Awareness campaigns like “Draw the Line” and Project Noise’s "A Is For" can take a break and come back in 2016 if we still need them, right? Well, no. No, no and no. We can’t for a minute sit back and think that the Transvaginal Crazy Train Express of 2012 is behind us. That’s the kind of thinking that got us into this rape-y mess in the first place.
One thing I’ve learned after working on this issue for the past year is that lack of awareness is the anti-choice lawmakers’ greatest tool of success and is dependent on your distraction and false sense of security. Trying to monitor the introduction of the hundreds of draconian, illogical, and molest-y bills introduced each year that put restrictions on and barriers to the legal medical procedure of abortion is like playing Checkers with a four year-old. You’re pretty confident you’re going to win. But you’re getting bored and distracted defeating all their desperate moves. You look down to check your smartphone, maybe even pre-emptively claim Checkers victory on your Facebook page. Next thing you know, you look up and the four year-old has two kings and they’re jumping your ass all over the place.
Right now, it would be easy to feel comfy after performing our civic duty by voting. We can go back to not paying attention until the next insane law is passed and we freak out about it on Facebook. Akin and Mourdock weren’t fringe crazies, they were just vocal and honest about what other lawmakers -- many who still hold their seats in the House -- already believed and were legislating. The burgeoning women’s movement that grew up around the election, and made possible by awareness projects like A Is For, still needs a vigilant eye, and a loud, relentless fucking voice. Safe-guarding choice and physical autonomy by supporting A Is For’s new Indiegogo “Acceleration” campaign is a concrete way to keep up that hard-won momentum and build a permanent presence.
A Is For partners with organizations like The Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and Planned Parenthood, who are on the ground, fighting these creepy laws and the money behind them. Bills and laws keep sprouting out of state legislature after state legislature, hoping to find their way around both Roe v. Wade and reason. Without A Is For and orgs like CRR, we’d have a country where the “Bill” from “Schoolhouse Rock” really did become a law and then constantly took his rolled-up parchment-paper body and immediately tried to shove it up the nearest vagina.
Just this week, anti-choice blog LifeSiteNews launched a laughably unrealistic video for their year-end giving campaign and claims it has raised $15,000 in just a few days, with a goal of ten times that amount. The video follows a teen with an unwanted pregnancy seeking an abortion who is then dissuaded by a protester outside of the clinic. It ends near a soft-focus Christmas tree in what looks to be a nice suburban home, with the young mother holding a baby in her arms. I can tell you from raw experience that raising a baby you can't afford isn't the best choice for everyone, and when it IS chosen, it doesn’t look anything like this video. They should at least show the woman holding an infant carrier in line at the WIC office for chrissakes.
Too bad the money these kinds of organizations raise isn’t spent on programs that support young, poor mothers after the baby is born. Instead, LifeSiteNews, which has 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, appears to spend it on recruiting people to coerce women seeking abortions into starting a family they cannot support, then abandoning them with a lick and a promise. These are the same people who ardently support radical anti-choice candidates like current congressman Paul Ryan, who lobbies for cutting welfare benefits and slashing funding for Head Start programs. Programs like these directly break the cycle of poverty for the children and families that LifeSiteNews espouses to have compassion for. Again, I speak from raw experience. Even Ryan's own church denounced his proposed budget plan as harmful to the poor, and there was a busful of nuns running around the country trying to stop his policies from being adopted.
A Is For provides a great tool for monitoring the repro rights landscape with the "Nightly Need to Know" blog, an exhaustively-researched but easy to consume daily digest of news stories related to reproductive rights. Besides direct support to orgs like CRR and Planned Parenthood, the A Is For awareness project keeps attention on the issues via social media through a well-attended Facebook page, lively Twitter account, and their popular A Is For YouTube video series. With 2 million views and counting, the series features everyday people alongside such notables as Amy Poehler, Sarah Silverman, and Stockard Channing, and is an ever-growing collection of short, thought-provoking video testimonials by individuals sharing what their A is for. The videos range from the provocative (Frances Fisher's "A Is For Appalling") and poignant (Annie Purcell's "silent" testimonial of an assault survival), to comic relief ("A Is For Arm Yourself” by Jen Kirkman).
Making A Is For an independent and permanent fixture on the nonprofit landscape to loudly counter all of this dangerous nonsense and educate the public is a worthy goal. That’s part of what donations to this Indiegogo campaign will help accomplish (as well as get you some quirky perks like lunch with Martha Plimpton, Burlesque lessons, and VIP tickets to the Conan O’Brien show.) More importantly, part of the proceeds from donations to the Project Noise "A Is For" campaign are given as a quarterly gift to directly support CRR, who just won another landmark case last week. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled two anti-abortion laws unconstitutional. The laws were challenged by CRR filings in 2010 and 2011.
One of the laws struck down in Oklahoma (after being in force for over two years) was the egregious forced-transvaginal-ultrasound -- a creepy procedure even if you actually need one, let alone endure a medically unnecessary one you are forced to have by the state. Adding to the humiliation, the Oklahoma law came complete with a mandated blow by blow narration of what the 10-inch shaming wand's camera sees inside your uterus while you’re being violated in the most personal way possible by your own state. The same people proposing these laws say they don't want government involved in their personal health care decisions.
Let’s not wait 'til 2016 to say “WTF? How did this happen?” Because if the express train to Transvaginal Crazytown shows up in our town again, and we were all sitting on our hands, assuming the ladies in the Senate would take care of our business, then we really are asking for it. We can either derail the the momentum of this movement by doing nothing, or derail the Crazytown train by doing something. Please help keep these issues front and center in the public arena by supporting the A Is For Indiegogo campaign.A Is For Acceleration Indiegogo Campaign
Maureen Herman is a writer and Executive Director of Project Noise, a nonprofit that serves to amplify the impact of nonprofits and raise awareness about critical social issues. She is the former bassist of Reprise/Warner Bros. recording artists Babes in Toyland and was previously Associate Editor of Musician Magazine. She is lives in Los Angeles with her Awesome and Adorable daughter.