Where do I begin with what is wrong with this ad?
The fact that a dad was surprised that he got someone pregnant, for one.
The fact that this suggests a cute baby is all women need to convince them that they should accept and embrace any surprise pregnancy, for two.
That the fact a potential baby has a heartbeat is supposed to sway an actual human that she shouldn’t have an abortion, for another.
But really, the fact that this has been up and prominent on my commute route home for at least two months and it hasn’t been defaced, is what really bums me out. I’m not saying that y’all should go out and mess it up. But if there was a movement to turn the tide against this kind of anti-woman garbage, that might have happened.
We have a lot of work to do to de-stigmatize abortion. These kinds of billboards show us our work is cut out for us. We desperately need a movement in the streets that proclaims that whatever the reason a person wants to terminate a pregnancy is ok.
Only a pregnant person can know if it’s right to continue a pregnancy, whether it was a surprise (for her or the sperm donor) or not. I look forward to the day such messages of reproductive freedom are found publicly and beautifully in public spaces, paid and not.
I am a nurse-midwife practicing in full-scope (reproductive health and birth care) in a community birth setting in the Midwest. My clinical practice is an extension of my longtime commitment to social reproduction (a close cousin and friend to intersectional -- perhaps synonymous to, depending on who you talk to!) marxist feminism and reproductive justice activism.
I write anonymously to protect my job security and make clear that these are my personal opinions, and to make clear that I am also a professional whose personal opinions can also be separate from the care I provide. (While I personally believe in abolition of the prison industrial complex, I still have clients that are cops/married to cops [etc.] and maintain respectful, compassionate clinical relationships with them.)
I was called to midwifery circuitously, through my love for reproductive rights and an interest in providing abortion care. Then I met midwives and learned about the intertwined legacy of midwifery and abortion, and I fell in love with birth. In my practice, I have worked as a primary care midwife in a Federally Qualified Health Center and campaigned fiercely for true midwifery in a hospital setting rife with obstetrical violence (and lost that fight!). I have learned how to bring midwifery care from the belly of the beast in a large teaching hospital that functions in many ways as an assembly line of medicalized birth. I have also had my heart broken by my own midwife when I realized that my dream job in home birth was actually a nightmare in many ways. I have found healing through communities of midwives that work to support each other through the traumas of toxic healthcare workplaces.
I am constantly learning, working on my personal and professional growth, and striving for accountability, particularly as an anti-racist that benefits from white privilege.
Midwives of the Revolution is meant as a nod to Marx and Engles's writing on the process of social revolution, as well as an aspiration to be among the midwives fighting to transform the perinatal health system in the context of the struggles for reproductive justice. The social revolution it will take to win reproductive justice will have to involve birth workers, other health workers (unionized, and not; professionals and not), educators, abolitionists, environmentalists, and of course childbearing people and families.
I love the way that Marx's collaborator Engles (a brilliant philosopher and activist in his own right) describes the dialectical process of childbirth, which, for me, also undergirds my commitment to bodily autonomy and reproductive justice. To paraphrase, some of the events that midwives are called to may be "violent" or forceful, like childbirth -- not unlike revolution and social struggle: The fetus is negated by the neonate, who can only be brought about by the force of childbirth. The midwife facilitates that transition, as force (or social struggle) facilitates the transition from one form of social relations to another.
Scolding the philosopher Duhring, Frederick Engles defends the social force required to fundamentally transform society: "Force, plays yet another role in history, a revolutionary role; that, in the words of Marx, it is the midwife of every old society pregnant with a new one, that it is the instrument with the aid of which social movement forces its way through and shatters the dead, fossilised political forms."
(Anti-Duhring, found here: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/works/1877/anti-duhring/ch16.htm#087)