Obama & The Real Issue Behind Reproductive Rights

Jeanne Marie Flavin, author of Our Bodies, Our Crimes (NYU Press 2008), in an op-ed in the San Francisco Chronicle, demonstrates that our President-Elect shares her belief that reproductive rights are tied to women’s economic and social livelihoods.

In the last presidential debate, Sen. Barack Obama, responding to a question about an abortion litmus test for Supreme Court nominees, unequivocally affirmed his support for the right to choose abortion. But then – and here is the part that made my heart flutter, nay, pound – he went on to connect the debate about abortion to the issue of ensuring equal pay for equal work.

“I think that it’s important for judges to understand,” he noted, “that if a woman is out there trying to raise a family, trying to support her family, and is being treated unfairly, then the court has to stand up, if nobody else will.”

These few lines suggest that our new president “gets” what so many before him have not: that reproductive justice for women cannot be separated from women’s economic and social well-being, and that there are not two kinds of women – those who have abortions and those who have babies.