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  • Writer's pictureCatherine White

Vibing with Cat White

As y’all know, I currently reside in the Lone Star State, which has been in the news a lot recently. And not for very positive reasons.

Legislatively, 2021 has been weird and raucous so far, with the pandemic and a historical winter storm and a never ending brutal Texas Legislative session wreaking havoc on the lives of Texans and reverberating throughout the country.

In September, Texas Senate Bill 8, which prohibits abortions in Texas as early as six weeks - well before some women know they are pregnant - and allows for almost any private citizen to sue abortion providers and others, became law. This law makes no allowance for victims of rape or incest. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott made the ridiculous declaration that Texas would rid itself of rapists, therefore removing the need for women to have an abortion due to rape, and incest I presume, since that is also a form of rape. He said this with a straight face while knowing of the Texas-sized backlog of untested rape kits, allowing for hundreds - perhaps thousands - of degenerate rapists to roam Texas’ streets. Rapists further empowered by Texas’ new permitless carry gun law, which allows most Texans to carry handguns in public without going through training or having to get permits.

There will be Women’s Marches in all 50 states on Oct. 2, 2021 to bring attention to restrictive reproductive rights laws currently being enacted across the United States. In Elmira, the Women's March Elmira - Rally in Support of Abortion Access is being held in Wisner Park. A Southern Tier Women’s Gathering will be held at 2 p.m. at the Denison Park Gazebo in Corning. And, just as I attended the Women’s March in 2017, I’ll be attending the Women’s March ATX at the state capitol on Oct. 2.

As a woman, as an American, I’m offended by the restrictions being placed on my freedom to control my own body. Particularly, when it comes to medical decisions that have no effect on public health.

Again, I find myself in the eye of a political hurricane, living in a state that treats women like second-class citizens after having been born and raised in the state that held the first Women’s Rights Convention, to address the civil rights of women, in 1848 in Seneca Falls.

I can’t believe in 2021 that we’re still debating a woman’s right to decide what happens with her own body. Especially, when citizens of our country can’t even cover their face with a protective cloth to help keep the vulnerable among us safe. It’s lunacy.

In addition to growing up in New York State, one of the original 13 with a particular fondness for liberty, my upbringing was filled with strong, independent women who instilled in me the belief in a woman’s right to autonomy over her own body, at a young age.

My mom was a quiet rebel who lost her heart to a dynamic, creative and emotionally-aloof black intellectual. She raised three of his kids, mostly by herself, and didn’t receive nearly the respect (or financial compensation) she deserved from him in the end.

It took me a while to truly understand the world that my mother, born in the 1940s, had grown up in. The rights that women have had to fight for -- really only achieving true independence in the 1960-70s. Before that, women needed a man’s signature to get a credit card, serve on a jury, take birth control and they were prevented from other basic freedoms promised to all Americans. Never mind the societal ways in which women’s basic rights have been ignored by law enforcement and lawmakers alike (domestic violence, spousal rape, violence against sex workers, etc.)

The fact that my mom was a single white woman raising black children in a small city only made her life more difficult. Yet she raised me and my siblings to have a strong sense of self, and to not let others’ opinion of us color our own. She also provided my sister and I with a positive example of a strong woman who could do anything she needed to, to provide for herself and her children.

In addition to my mother, I was strongly influenced by my grandmother, who was a nurse; as is my younger sister. The stories I’ve heard over my life, more than 30 years apart, of women being forced to bear the child of a man who physically assaults her, sexually assaults her … of young girls being raped by fathers, uncles, brothers with no legal recourse or justice; it’s heartbreaking and infuriating.

I also find it ironic that those clamoring for #MyBodyMyChoice with regards to the public health issue of wearing masks to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and its many variants, are, largely, the same people who want to prevent a woman from having control of her own body and deciding what’s best for her life while refusing to hold the fathers of the unborn responsible in any way in this prohibitive legislation.

I have some questions for you pro-lifers:

  1. How are you helping the women, especially the girls, who’ve been sexually assaulted, molested and raped in your community and this country?

  2. What are you doing to prevent unwanted pregnancy in your community and this country?

  3. How are you helping families in your community/country that are struggling to survive?

  4. What are you doing about the rehoming of adopted children whose adoptive parents are having difficulty with them?

Currently, our foster care system is overwhelmed -- there are too many American children, Texas children trapped in a broken foster care system. American women, Texas women are being put in a precarious position, their mental and physical health, and access to American democracy are in grave jeopardy.

As Americans, our voices matter and participation in government is one of our most important and valuable rights. Speak up and speak out against these offensive and unconstitutional abortion restrictions. All women, all humans have the right to access health care and to be able to determine what the best decisions are for their lives in their situations with guidance from their medical professional.

If you want to support American women but are unable to attend any Women's March events -- heck, even if you ARE attending a Women’s March -- you can also use your voice by contacting your state and federal legislators to let them know how you feel about forced birth and the infringement of women’s rights to bodily autonomy in the United States of America and/or your state.


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