Women Fighting Back Through Social Media

An Oklahoma judge overturned an ultrasound law today. Score one for us.

The more interesting story is that women around the country are organizing through social media to push back against what is going on in their states. A record number of abortion restrictions were passed in 2011, but so far in 2012 a lot of similar bills are hitting a wall of resistance. Some of them are getting passed, but many others have been blocked by a lot of pissed-off women.

Here’s a great article at Salon explaining how women are using social media to get the word out and organize protests. Many of these women have never been active before, but they’ve been shaken up by attacks on Planned Parenthood as well as by things said by some really, really stupid state politicians —

In Georgia, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that hundreds of people attended hearings on the state’s proposed ban on abortion after 20 weeks – a law based on scientifically spurious claims of “fetal pain” that six other states have passed since 2010. It failed partly because legislators couldn’t agree on an exception for “medically futile” pregnancies. In Pennsylvania, a forced-ultrasound bill “has been shelved indefinitely by House leaders, in part because of outcries by more moderate GOP lawmakers who don’t want to deal with it in their election year,” according to the Harrisburg Patriot-News. (But not without Gov. Tom Corbett, who weighed in cluelessly in another widely circulated comment: “I don’t know how you make anybody watch, OK? Because you just have to close your eyes.”) In Tennessee, a legislator felt compelled to back off posting abortion records online, citing a fierce backlash and, he claimed, death threats.

“Every time a politician says something terrible, people respond emotionally to that,” says Luther. “It makes people in Florida care about what’s happening in Idaho.” It was harder, she adds, to get people fired up about Utah’s mandatory waiting period, maybe because there was no single tweetable moment.

Some pro-choice organizations have talked about an “enthusiasm gap” among the younger generation, which doesn’t remember back-alley abortions and which they say isn’t fired up the way young anti-abortion activists are. But social media has made it possible for women and men to keep up with the laws that emerge seemingly by the minute — and then sign a petition or, if they’re up for it, flood legislators’ Facebook pages with graphic updates about the vulvas the politicians are so interested in regulating. For progressives in conservative states, who often feel alone in their views, all this can be particularly galvanizing.

People are organizing on their own initiative. NARAL hasn’t been part of it, which doesn’t surprise me. More than 30 years ago I stopped paying dues to NARAL because I felt they were completely out of touch with anything going on outside of Washington, and sending them dues was a bit like throwing money into a black hole — you never saw any results from it. And the Democratic Party hasn’t been any better, especially at state level in right-wing states.

So this is a good thing. Maybe there’s hope.

1 thought on “Women Fighting Back Through Social Media

  1. This is an encouraging blog. Regarding all those state bills, I say take names and make the politicians behind them get run out of office at the next election, which is something the social media is made for. I sign petitions all the time; but I don’t do facebook or twitter. They just put too much pressure on my retired brain. I will continue to do what I can within my limitations of old age; but, I do believe it is the job of the young women who will be most affected by these 19th Century laws who need to do the work. Off-topic slightly: I saw an HBO special on Gloria Steinem in her own words today. I encourage all young women who have HBO to watch this special. She is still one of my heroes. Her work did a tremendous amount for women and what we have now.

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