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How is it that I would need protection to seek medical care or advice?

November 23, 2010

Last Friday I happened to drive past a counseling center and saw the wonderful, brave people outside the clinic doors wearing their bright orange jacket/vests that proclaimed they are pro-choice escorts.  It isn’t something I haven’t seen before so I can’t explain why it hit me this time in such a visceral way – this situation is a lack of sexual freedom; an absence of our fundamental human right to make decisions about our bodies and our health.

What have we come to in this country that, should I want or need counseling about a personal medical decision, I am going to need someone to keep me safe enough to enter the place where I can get that kind of care?  Has violence become so common-place that we need personal body guards when we seek medical care or information?

When we seek to enslave another human being we know that the quickest way to break their spirit is to remove their personal autonomy.  Think about slavery for just a moment and what do you think of as the defining characteristics?  I think of the slave’s lack of ability to decide where they would live, if they would eat,  if they would be educated, if and with whom they would have sexual intercourse and to whom their body belonged.  And in that, of course, was the removal of their individual human right to make the decisions about their own bodies and the relationships and families they sought.  A free black person needed to either be escorted in town or carry papers that declared them free.

How is what we see today different from slavery?  We can’t go into a clinic without an escort.  Laws in some places remove our right to make our own decisions about our bodies.  If we are lesbian or gay we are not permitted to choose our relationships or families and have them recognized as valid and “legal”.  If we are polyamorous or just non-monogamous we are not considered equal in the eyes of the law to heterosexual couples and so, again, we are not able to choose our own relationships or families.

No matter what form today’s rhetoric takes, it is still designed to return us to slavery by removing our fundamental right to sexual freedom – to our personal autonomy.  Who better than I to decide about me?  And if I can’t make the decision about me, who better than I to decide who can make that decision?  And one thing I can tell you – that person I might have to trust to decide about me is NOT going to be someone who’s never met me and is serving a term as a legislator concerned, it would seem (lately) more with being re-elected than with representing me or anyone else.

Which brings me back to the clinic.  I don’t really have a solution to this situation.  I just know that it is unacceptable to me that here, in my country, the United States of America, it isn’t safe to go to a doctor or clinic.  This isn’t a situation I expect to see here in the US, but it is something I am (unfortunately) used to hearing about in third world countries.  Is that what we’ve become here?  I won’t even ask how it happened – it happened, I think, the same way old age happens – a day at a time, a loss at a time.  But surely we can stop this progress of this deadly disease of reproductive slavery.  I just don’t know how.

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