Woman as Reason: “Trust women” is not the needed rallying cry

May 9, 2024

by Terry Moon

As she travels across the country speaking for her and Joseph Biden’s reelection, Vice President Kamala Harris correctly pins Donald Trump to “More [abortion] bans, more suffering, less freedom.” In the process, she keeps repeating: “But we are not going to let that happen, because we trust women.* We trust women to know what is in their own best interest. And women trust all of us to fight to protect their most fundamental freedom.”

The thing is: Trump and his neo-fascist supporters like the Heritage Foundation, white Christian nationalists and rabid anti-abortion fanatics also “trust women to know what is in their own best interest.” They trust that women will do what’s best for themselves and their families, they trust that we will make sacrifices to help the children we already have, they trust us to want to control our own bodies and our futures and to want to be free, self-actualizing human beings and to be comprehended that way by others.

March for reproductive justice in Philadelphia, 10/2/21. Photo: Joe Piette, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 DEED

Women are not facing a lack of trust; we are facing an all-out campaign to thwart our desire—and our human right—to self-determination and freedom. In the 50 years of the Women’s Liberation Movement, women have proven themselves in every area where they have managed to participate—often fighting vicious hatred, violence and discrimination. From construction jobs to space travel, from sports to classrooms, women have scratched their way into the worldwide boy’s club that never wanted us there.


That they still don’t is seen in the almost laughable panic around the fact that women now—after years of struggle and outright bans and quotas—outnumber men in colleges and universities. GASP! Why the panic? Men have outnumbered women ever since college was invented. For centuries women were not allowed to participate at all. Where was the panic then? Furthermore, no one is telling men they can’t go, or throwing obstacles in their paths. The only quota there now is where some colleges and universities have a quota of how many men they want to enroll and, in order to reach that target, they turn down more qualified women. You’ll grow old and die waiting for the right-wing outrage about that.

The women’s movement, like the Black Civil Rights movement from which the women’s movement sprang, has shown the world that they can “trust women” and all those who are oppressed to fight for human rights, for equality and for freedom.

So perhaps Harris and Biden could stop talking about their great trust in women—since that is clearly about wanting to trust women to vote for them—and actually get into the horrific fact that this is a struggle against fascism, against those that want to track women’s periods so they can find out who is pregnant. It’s a struggle against forced pregnancy and a world where always, always the “life” of a fetus would trump that of a woman—even if it is nothing more than a few cells. This is a fight to keep birth control legal and accessible, for women to stop being a slave to biology, for our health and lives to be valued. This is a fight for the freedom to travel, to not be stopped and forced to pee on a stick by the side of the road in the presence of a leering cop.


Things are already so bad that women who are carrying dead or doomed fetuses must undergo surgery, a Caesarian section, that can put their lives in danger and takes months to recover from, rather than having an abortion—one of the safest medical procedures there is. Why? Because abortion is illegal where they live. Women, and others who can become pregnant, are also being forced to carry dead or dying fetuses to term or to when they go into premature labor. Thus, they suffer much more pain and danger than if they were permitted an abortion which would be over in about a half hour. There is no more “standard of care” for those who are pregnant. Let’s call this what it is: torture. (Jessica Valenti in her must-see blog, Abortion Every Day, has documented these inhuman practices.)

Biden and Harris need to speak to this rather than blather about trusting women. The incredible architects of retrogression who are putting women’s lives and others with the ability to become pregnant in danger of death and mutilation—which is forcing women to carry pregnancies to term when that is opposed to their best interest, who aim to give a fetus the same rights as a live human being, politicize women’s wombs and police their every move, who aim to outlaw birth control and impose a fascistic Christian nationalism—must be confronted on what they actually plan to do and have already imposed on those they aim to control completely.

* The phrase “trust women” originated with Dr. George Tiller, who was murdered by an anti-abortion fanatic on May 31, 2009. Tiller performed late-term abortions, which are typically needed because something went terribly wrong in a pregnancy, putting the woman’s life at risk. He had a “Trust Women” sign posted in his clinic. In 2013, Julie Burkhart, who had worked for Tiller, opened the Trust Women Clinic on the site of Tiller’s clinic. To my knowledge, Vice President Kamala Harris has not spoken of how the phrase “Trust Women” became part of the struggle for abortion rights.


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