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More on Bodily Integrity

Unlike Jen, I did not attend the Open Hearts, Open Minds conference. But I did carefully look over the program materials beforehand, and was struck by how few people of color were involved in it. I was struck that while abortion of disabled fetuses was on the discussion agenda, there seemed to be little involvement of people with disabilities and disability rights advocates.

I am a person with disabilities, and though I am of European descent myself, am the very involved grandmother of a child of color. People with disabilities and people of color have in so many ways, including but not limited to abortion, been denied the rights to life and bodily integrity. So I am troubled by these apparent omissions of vital stakeholders from this conference. 

There is a disability rights movement slogan that occurs to me at this point: "Nothing about us, without us." Hopefully any future dialogue efforts will consider this at the planning stages, not after the fact.

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Bodily Integrity IS Central

Aimee Thorne-Thomsen of the Pro-Choice Public Education Project says that she registered for the "Open Hearts, Open Minds" conference with "neither an open heart nor an open mind."

But that does not justify everything at the conference that Thorne-Thomsen finds problematic. Particularly prolife lawyer Helen Alvare's apparent statement that bodily integrity is not an important enough issue to discuss in the context of abortion.

What could be more central to the issue? Especially on a planet where one in three women experiences gender-based violence.

Abortion violates the bodily integrity of prenatal human beings. It often results from the denial of women's body-right: through inequality in our relationships with men, sexual coercion, the denial of our chosen family planning methods, the societal refusal to strive for 100% effective contraception, domestic violence, the utter withholding of necessary medical and social supports before, during, and ever after birth…

And it can be defined as a violation of women's bodily integrity in and of itself. NOT because women "by nature" must bear children, and as many as possible–hey, I would have been dead a long time ago if I believed THAT–but because it involves the lifetaking of a particular, irreplaceable, already existing human being inside of another particular, irreplaceable, already existing human being.

The question of bodily integrity is inseparable from the abortion issue.