Editor's Picks, Reproductive Rights, Gender, Policy, Social Justice

Alabama’s attack on our bodies is terrifying, but ignoring it is even worse

Making abortion illegal does not prevent abortion. It kills people.

I’m mad, and I’m exhausted because reproductive rights are always under attack.

For years it has felt like every month there is a new abortion horror story to fight and mourn. In the last month, bills in several U.S. states have sought to seriously infringe on the right to an abortion. It feels like the tide is turning against abortion access in my home country, and that scares me.

Every time a new law is passed, or I hear the story of a woman risking it all to get an abortion, I am emotionally devastated.

Seven years ago, I had an abortion, and I have been phone-banking, protesting, and sharing my story ever since. Seven years is a drop in the bucket compared to the activists who have been tirelessly working for decades. But at only 29, I’m really fucking tired of mincing words, looking out for people’s feelings and openly discussing my very private reproductive history to try to get folks to care.

This is not about me. I will always have access to abortion. I live in a country with good access. I have a family with resources, a passport, and all the trappings of privilege.

This is about everyone.

The people who will suffer the most when access to abortion is restricted, are the poor, the young and other marginalized folks who cannot afford the time or money to get treatment anywhere else. If an anti-choice politician’s mistress, wife or partner becomes inconveniently or God-forbid violently pregnant, they can afford to leave to get the healthcare they need.

Restricting or eliminating abortion access is inhumane. Not only does it devalue the lives of women and all people who can get pregnant, but it also devalues the futures of those at the margins of society.

Access to birth control leads to fewer abortions, but the same (conservative Christian) religiously-informed morality that drives people to outlaw abortion also results in reduced access to sex education and birth control. That kind of hypocrisy does not stem from logic, but delusions about the immorality of sex.

I get it. Abortion isn’t nice to think about in the specifics.

I have been in a Planned Parenthood, have gone through the emotional and physical experience of an abortion, and I know about it as well as anyone. But as a society, we don’t get to force people to complete pregnancies because the process of terminating is a bummer.

In Northern Ireland, Brazil, theUnited States, El Salvador, Egypt — and so many other places — women are suffering, imprisoned or dying.

My privilege has left me with a kind of survivor’s guilt, knowing the life I have would not exist if I didn’t have access to abortion. People are facing criminal charges for miscarriages and seeking unsafe back-alley abortions, and yet the laws keep coming. It makes me sick.

The anti-abortion movement is not about loving life.

Instead, it is couched in paternalism and societal hatred of half of the world’s population. It is about contempt for the poor and the working-class, along with the fear of sexuality that is not privileged, cisgender, and male. You can wrap up this hatred in a shiny, tearful “save the babies” package but that does not change what this is—a clear trampling of reproductive rights.

 

If you’re as mad as me, you can do your part to protect abortion access. In the United States, you can volunteer with or donate to your local abortion fund, Planned Parenthood, or NARAL. Internationally, Marie Stopes International and IPAS, are doing important work.