I’m Australian, but a good portion of the feminist blogosphere is American. Hence I get exposed to a lot of US news of feminist interest. One thing that always astounds me is how controversial abortion is in the US. Not a week goes by without more news of abortion being restricted, or potentially restricted.
And I read all this stuff, the constant assault on the most basic human right for bodily autonomy, and I am kind of horrified that this is what American women have to put up with.
Not that Australia is some golden utopia of women’s liberation, but abortion is pretty much a non-issue. So much so, that last year during our federal election the conservative candidate Tony Abbott, a known catholic, had to promise that he wouldn’t meddle with the abortion laws if elected.
So, you know. It’s a bit different here.
But even though the majority of Australia is in favor of legal abortion access, I have no doubt that public opinion could change at any time, as it so often has against women in the past. And it’s just a fact that so long as piv is conflated with sex (ie. so long as there is patriarchy), women will require access to safe and legal abortion. And indeed women should always have access to it anyway, patriarchy or not.
One thing that distinguishes radical feminism from liberal feminism, is that radical feminism acknowledges that women can’t rely on men’s benevolence for anything, because their benevolence is always highly conditional – if women started refusing piv, you can bet men would get rid of legal abortion faster than it takes for an erect penis to deflate. If we trust men to grant us access to abortion, we also have to trust them not to take away this access. And 2000+ years of patriarchy has shown us that men can’t be trusted when it comes to women’s rights.
Essentially, sisters got to do it for themselves.
I have a particular interest in the practical ways women circumvent the patriarchy, and it was this interest that led to me to research home abortion methods that were safe (at least, safe relative to coathanger-style butchery methods). There’s quite a bit of info about different herbs out there, but toxicity is a very real risk when it comes to high herbal doses, and many herbs are so risky that they really should be avoided altogether (ie pennyroyal).
There is one herbal method that appears relatively safe though, and that is using parsley in combination with vitamin C. A radfem wrote about this method a few years ago, and it’s an interesting read. More info on different herbs for abortion can be found here.
A non-herbal method is menstrual extraction. It was developed by a women’s group in the 70s, and it’s a non-traumatic suction abortion method. The wiki page has obviously been written by a woman, so it’s quite good. There’s also a pdf available online: The whats hows and whys of menstrual extraction which has more detail.
Regardless of the legal status of abortion, all this info should be common knowledge for feminists. Not only because a time may come when women have to rely on these methods, but also because it’s an important part of women’s history and knowledge.