Bowling for (Abortion) Dollars

7 years ago

Bowling pins with ball on white backgroundIn the 1970s, Bowling for Dollars was a popular, "franchised" game show in which people would do exactly as the title suggested: they would bowl for dollars. Also in the '70s, the Supreme Court decided that abortion was a legal right for all women, should one choose to undergo the medical procedure. Finally, in the 1970s, the Hyde Amendment prohibited the use of federal Medicaid funds for abortions except in cases of rape, incest, or if a woman's life was in danger. Soooo... it only makes sense that the National Network of Abortion Funds is hosting a bowl-a-thon to raise money "to make reproductive rights a reality for women who can't afford to pay for an abortion."

I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, where bowling was a wholesome Friday night activity for teens. My father and grandmother were in bowling leagues back in the day. (Granny has a trove of trophies from her halcyon days.) I'm pretty happy if I can get over 100, but I hope that I can raise many times whatever my score is to help low-income women exercise their legal right to health care.

That's what this amounts to: a class of people denied health care because they can't afford it. We can argue until we are blue in the face about whether people who oppose abortion should be forced to "pay" for it through their tax dollars, but the reality is that this is a democracy. We can't pick and choose which public benefits our tax money goes toward. If that were the case, I'd stop paying for the war in Afghanistan and Iraq (although I'd reallocate those dollars to the health and welfare of soldiers and their families), Guantanamo Bay, and any future off-shore drilling program that happens, among other things. That's also why we have charities - to support causes we find important and distribute our money as we see fit - and elections that enable us to vote for people who make the laws that determine how public money is spent. Otherwise, chaos. Lecture over.

As it is, the effects of denying public funding to poor women who need abortions does not necessarily stop them from having them. Instead, it puts them (and their families - over 60% of abortions are obtained by women who already have one or more children) at risk. Either they try and terminate the pregnancy in whatever way they can afford, or they "borrow" from other areas in their lives to pay for it. Sometimes it takes so long to get the money together that they wind up having abortions when they are in their second trimesters, which is not only (slightly) riskier, but also even more expensive.

Yes, the bowl-a-thon for abortions is rife with opportunity for puns about balls, striking things out, and back alleys. Yes, it is going to require me to drag my butt out on a Monday (April 26, if you are in NYC) after work when I should be working on my stupid thesis. Yes, it is wrong that the way we raise money for medical care in the United States is through bowling tournaments. But until the Hyde Amendment is revoked (and I have very little hope it will be, given the shenanigans that took place to get private insurance policies to drop abortion coverage during the health care reform process), I will grab big balls and fling them down dimly lit alleys to strike down unfair, discriminatory, unjust barriers to women's abilities to determine whether or not we want to reproduce.

Other women bloggers participating in the bowl-a-thon and what they have to say about it:

Suzanne also blogs at Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants and is the author of Off the Beaten (Subway) Track.

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