Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Hang On To Choice

As Tennessee Guerilla Women and Thoughts of an Average Woman have already reported, pro-choice women from Wellesley College, specifically Wellesley Women for Choice, have been bombarding Governor Bredesen's office with coat hangers bearing the message "Hang On To Choice" in support of Tennessee women's reproductive freedoms. The Hang On To Choice Campaign is intended to encourage the Governor to veto any legislation that would ban abortion. The group's logic is that Tennessee is one of the states where choice is most at risk; indeed, there is quite a bit of relevant pending legislation in the state.

I'm all for women taking action. My gut reaction to the Wellesley project, however, was one of discomfort. How well will the Governor react to an influx of mail from a liberal, Massachusetts women's college? Does it have any impact? Why aren't TN women doing the same? Is it embarrassing to the pro-choice in TN to be "scooped" on pro-choice activism? Does it matter? Shouldn't these efforts be followed up by some local action? What is Bredesen's response, because I haven't seen one anywhere? I think it's interesting that, while some claim abortion is a state issue, projects such as Hang on to Choice and efforts to support South Dakota women are springing up. I don't have any profound summary of this, it's just something I'm pondering.

Related: TGW and TOAAW also remind you to get your emergency contraception in advance, to avoid problems such as pharmacist refusals, lack of access to an open clinic, weekends, and other emergencies. This comes on the heels of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' annoucement of the "Ask Me" program to "aimed at educating women about emergency contraception (EC) and encouraging them to get an advance prescription from their ob-gyn. ACOG developed this campaign to help eliminate the logistical and political barriers that currently exist and make EC largely inaccessible to women." To locate clinics providing emergency contraception in your area, search the Not-2-Late directory. Kudos to those two local bloggers for bringing this to our attention.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am one of the leaders of the Hang On To Choice (HOTC)campaign at Wellesley, and so I would like to respond to your musings on our campaign, and specifically your concerns about it, so that I can clear up any confusion.
When we came up with the campaign, we did consider whether there was a point to running a campaign from Mass against a bill in Tennessee, but we decided it was ultimately worthwhile to go ahead with it anyway because our ultimate ambition is to make it a national campaign. It is as much about fighting the bill as about creating awareness about the encroachment on women's rights that is happening in several states, as well as garnering the support of other schools to run the same campaign.
We have been very conscious of the effect that our campaign has had on Tennessee, and before we started it we asked the Tennessee Guerrilla Women (who are heading the ground force in TN against the bill) to ensure that we would not be working against them in any way, and they supported us. Our hope is that ultimately schools in Tennessee, along with other schools across the nation, will adopt our campaign and help up in this battle for women's rights.

4:44 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

Thank you for this information. I want to clarify that I have no personal problems with the HOTC campaign, and I'm pleased to hear that you were in contact with local activists. I was initially concerned that there would be a negative reaction due to your status as "outsiders." Have you received any response from the Governor? Please do keep me updated on how it's going - I'd be happy to post alerts and such.

PS - as an Oberlin alum, I think that may be another non-TN school that you might consider involving. As for TN schools, Sewanee might be a good place to start. Best of luck!

6:41 PM  

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