Bernie Sanders, My Autonomy Is Not Negotiable

As Aphra_Behn reported on Wednesday, Bernie Sanders, in his capacity as co-chair of Democratic outreach, said flatly of Georgia Democrat Jon Ossoff: "He's not a progressive," while declaring as "progressive" Nebraska Democrat Heath Mello, despite the fact that Mello has sponsored legislation that would restrict abortion rights.

Yesterday, Sanders defended that position to NPR Politics:
Sanders pushed back against the criticism. "The truth is that in some conservative states there will be candidates that are popular candidates who may not agree with me on every issue. I understand it. That's what politics is about," Sanders told NPR.

"If we are going to protect a woman's right to choose, at the end of the day we're going to need Democratic control over the House and the Senate, and state governments all over this nation," he said. "And we have got to appreciate where people come from, and do our best to fight for the pro-choice agenda. But I think you just can't exclude people who disagree with us on one issue."
This is absolutely incredible. After holding Ossoff to a litmus test on vaguely defined "economic issues," he gives Mello a pass on abortion rights because there are candidates "who may not agree with [him] on every issue."

Economic issues are non-negotiable, but abortion is. It's just "one issue."

Bernie Sanders does not have the right to casually negotiate away my bodily autonomy. But he believes he does—no less under the auspices of centering economic issues as paramount, despite the fact that control over our reproduction is a crucial economic issue for women. Indeed, our self-determination regarding reproductive choices is the key indicator of women's financial security.

That Sanders fails to regard reproductive rights as a central economic issue is perfectly, terribly reflective of his comprehensive failure of intersectional analysis and policy.

That is the problem that I, and many others, have had with Sanders all along.

This isn't just an issue of Sanders prioritizing reproductive rights over economic issues: It's an issue of Sanders failing to understand, or acknowledge, that reproductive rights is a key economic issue.

Either he doesn't understand that, or he simply doesn't care, because it isn't a key economic issue for (cis) men.

And if Sanders were just another old dosey relic quickly approaching the end of an inglorious political career, we wouldn't be having this conversation. But he isn't. He is operating in an official Democratic Party capacity (a decision by the Democrats almost as inexplicable as allowing him to run as a Democrat in the first place).

Further to that, he has positioned himself as the arbiter of What Is Progressive. And treating women's autonomy, agency, consent, and very equality under the law as negotiable is a colossally retrogressive position. It is the opposite of progressive.

I am angry that Sanders is obliging me to fight against his profoundly unprogressive ideas, when I've got enough to fucking worry about fighting against Trump and the rest of the dirtbags in the Republican Party.

And I am angry that the Democrats, in continuing to give a platform to these garbage ideas, is shitting all over the work Hillary Clinton busted her ass doing to activate 10 million new Democrats who I'm guessing won't compromise on women's personhood, since they supported the candidate who was vocal and unyielding in her support of reproductive rights.

Any movement that wants to redefine "progressive" in a way that deprioritizes women's personhood is a movement of which I want no part.

Bernie Sanders' "progressivism" is toxic. The Democratic leadership needs to wake up to that reality, and fast.

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