‘Girls’ Actress Jemima Kirke Joins The Fight For Women’s Reproductive Rights

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You may have heard the saying: “if men had to use birth control, it would be available in vending machines”. It certainly would be a VERY different world if the burden of contraception fell exclusively on men. Buzzfeed even did us all a favor and showed what life would be like if guys had to be the ones taking responsibility in a relationship for birth control in this hilarious video:

As great as this video is, sadly the burden falls on women and it is not always an easy situation. There are a number of states here in the US working hard to shut down abortion clinics and reproductive access for women in areas where pro-life activists have close ties with political and religious figures. Not only are they trying to get clinics (which offer more than just abortions, btw) shut down, they are coming up with clever ways, such as complaining about zoning violations and pressuring construction companies, to restrict a woman’s right to choose the healthcare options for herself.

Here in America we are lucky to live in a land where religious freedom and healthcare are better than most. But when religion and politics combine, they become a lethal weapon seeking to ostracize many women’s autonomous rights in the guise of “doing God’s will”.

It’s totally fine to believe abortion is wrong, it’s when you force that belief on everyone else and use a position of authority to demand other women fall in line that makes it a controversial issue. Ever since the historic Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision of 1973 where women were allowed to get abortions legally, it has been an ingoing battle against certain groups who are using women’s reproductive rights as a battleground for votes.

Thankfully, there are plenty of other organizations and notable figures who are willing to speak up about the importance of allowing women the right to choose what they want to do with their own bodies. When Nevada Lieutenant Governor candidate Lucy Flores, also a Nevada State Assembly woman, spoke openly about having an abortion as a young girl, suddenly became the focus of much media attention. She talked about growing up in a rough neighborhood where she had been in gangs, went to jail, and was set to become a statistic after growing up in a family of many children whose mother had left them when she was young.

She got pregnant, and decided to have an abortion because she saw the result of many young girls in her life who had gotten pregnant too young and weren’t able to break the cycle of poverty. She never regretted her decision because it enabled her to eventually go to law school and have a successful political and legal career defending the rights of young men and women who grew up as she did, but didn’t have anyone like Lucy being their representative.

With the upcoming 2016 Presidential election, once again reproductive rights are going to be a predictable calling card for many candidates who seek to get elected on the back of their policy towards birth control and abortion. In anticipation of the media hubbub, the Center for Reproductive Rights have released a PSA featuring ‘Girls’ actress Jemima Kirke who also speaks candidly about having an abortion, in the hope they can enlighten the public on what a complex issue this is.

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“Because I couldn’t tell my mother that I was pregnant, I had to pay for it out of pocket. I had to empty my checking account and get some from my boyfriend. I realized that if I didn’t take the anesthesia, I would be able to afford to do this. The anesthesia wasn’t that much more, but when you’re scrounging for however many hundreds of dollars, it’s a lot,” she describes of her experience.

There is a popular line of argument that says women’s reproductive rights should not be a “burden of the state” (a typical conservative argument) which is often followed by arguments of the religious nature as seen in the famous Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case who did not want to provide certain types of healthcare to their employees based on their personal beliefs.

We call bogus on that. Our taxes pay for MANY things. And (no surprise here) some of the things our taxes pay for we may not agree with and we may never even need to use. Yet why does birth control and a woman’s reproductive decisions get singled out in this debate? If that’s the line of arguments certain politicians want to use, then perhaps they should bring into question EVERYTHING our taxes pay for state by state and let us complain about a whole range of other things we disagree with, apart from birth control. That only seems fair and logical to us…

In January 2015 House Republicans successfully passed a bill that would prohibit federal funding of abortions, but their own party were divided on a previous bill that would seek to disallow abortions being done at 20 weeks. It is clear there is some dissent and disagreements about this issue even within Conservative circles, but that is a good thing. It means they are perhaps starting to see this issue from the point of view that actually counts: everyday American women.

The same month, Republican Congressman from Ohio, Tim Ryan, famously penned an essay stating why he has done a 180 toward his views on abortion.

“Each and every American deserves the right to deal with these difficult situations in consultation with their families, close friends or religious advisers. No federal or state law banning abortion can honestly and fairly take into account the various circumstances that make each decision unique,” he wrote in a very insightful piece on how he came to the decision.

That aspect of getting politics out of an individual woman’s healthcare choices is something Jemima talks about in the PSA.

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She talks about anticipating discussions with her two young daughters about self-esteem and confidence when it comes to their bodies as they grow up, but she doesn’t want them to grow up in a world where they are still battling the same political ideologies about their individual decisions about birth control.

“I would love if, when they’re older and in their teens and twenties, the political issues surrounding their bodies were not there any more. That they have one less thing to battle with around their bodies. Because their own criticism about themselves will be there, but I would hate to see them have to fight for rights over their bodies as well,” she said.

According to research from the Guttmacher Institute, 3 in 10 women will have an abortion by age 45 and the overwhelming majority of those women are in their 20s. While most of these women have some kind of access to health insurance, 57 percent pay out of pocket either because their insurance doesn’t cover abortion procedures or for privacy concerns.

Yahoo Health reports that President Obama’s Affordable Healthcare has enabled many more women to have access to the care they need, that has also been the trigger for many Republicans to try and pass laws banning insurance coverage for abortions.

The Draw The Line campaign that Jemima is part of for the Center for Reproductive Rights, which was launched in 2012, says this is primarily a support campaign aimed at breaking down stigma and enabling women to share their stories in the hope they don’t feel isolated about their experiences. That’s what it should be about, the personal experience, not the political one!

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“The campaign activated hundreds of thousands of people across the country to sign the Bill of Reproductive Rights—a statement of principle that the government must protect reproductive rights as fundamental human rights and stop the politically motivated attacks on women’s ability to get the health care they need from the providers they trust,” says the website.

“In 2013, we delivered those signatures to Congress, and several months later, both houses introduced the historic Women’s Health Protection Act. Today, Draw the Line continues to push for the advancement of rock-solid protections for reproductive rights and health care through the stories of people’s individual reproductive health care experiences—making it clear that access to legal, high-quality care is essential to everyone’s lives.”

Aside from Jemima, you can read many other women’s stories who have courageously shared them publicly so that you don’t feel pressured to think a certain way or make the type of decision under political duress, rather than what is right for your life.

It’s interesting to note that Jemima isn’t the only ‘Girls’ cast member to team up with a progressive reproductive rights organization. The show’s creator, writer and star Lena Dunham entered into a partnership with Planned Parenthood for the part of her recently book tour, as a way to raise awareness about the importance of reproductive rights being made available to ALL women in America.

As we gear up for the 2016 Presidential, there is going to be a lot of information about this issue being used as a platform to win votes. But we cannot forget that at the heart of the matter is an individual woman’s right to choose how she wants to live her life. The more we step backward with our health and political policies the more we emphasize that women’s rights are not as important as others.

Let’s support this campaign and draw the line so that the only people allowed to make decisions about our bodies, is us.

One Comment

  1. Pingback: Jemima Kirke Gets Real About Her Ass, Body Image & Lena Dunham

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