Throughout the 2016 election, the issue of abortion was front and center. There was talk about overturning Roe v. Wade and defunding Planned Parenthood. On election day, the most popular Google search was abortion. (Seriously?) And as we watch this administration’s cabinet of doom take shape, our worst fears about the vulnerability of pro-choice legislation and women’s reproductive rights are proving to be true. This is truly nightmare fuel, folks.
I have to admit, all this debate about abortion and reproductive rights has baffled me. WTF, America, isn’t this the 21st Century? How are we still talking about this? Didn’t we already fight this fight? Wasn’t this issue settled years ago?
For most people, the answer is yes, it was settled years ago. In fact, most Americans support legal abortion, and a recent Pew study shows a record high 69% of Americans support Roe v. Wade specifically. The support is even higher when it comes to birth control, with a 2016 Gallup poll showing that 89% of Americans believe birth control is “morally acceptable.”
I’m not only baffled, I’m angry. I’m pissed that we need to spend one ounce of energy on this shit. I’m tired of hearing the religious right preach extremist, un-Christian views that would make Jesus himself weep in disgust. I’m exhausted from debunking erroneous information and twisted facts. And I’m mad as hell that the selfish and ill-informed opinions of a few are impacting the lives of others, many of whom are the most vulnerable in our society.
Honestly, I just can’t even is my default response when the issue of abortion and reproductive rights comes up. I can’t believe we are still having these conversations and we still need to fight for basic women’s rights. I can’t believe this needs to be explained again. I can’t believe we are talking about issues of abortion and birth control when children are literally dying in the streets in other parts of the world and the income disparity in our own country is staggering.
Yet here we are, having this conversation again, fighting this fight again. And we’ll keep having this conversation and fighting this fight until everyone realizes that pro-choice legislation matters to all of us because it benefits all of us, and it’s the right thing to do. It’s just that simple, and just that important. And here’s why:
Anti-choice legislative efforts go way beyond voluntary abortions.
Anti-choice legislation doesn’t just apply to voluntary abortions, and the conversation isn’t as simple as the labels we put on it. The word “abortion” alone covers a wide range of medical procedures — including D&Cs for missed miscarriages, voluntarily medical abortions, and dilation and extraction procedures. Anti-choice legislation impacts all women because it also applies to things like access to STD screenings, mammograms, and birth control.
Anti-choice legislation doesn’t always look like overturning Roe v. Wade or banning late-term abortion. Anti-choice legislation looks like fetal burial laws and forced transvaginal ultrasounds. It looks like defunding Planned Parenthood, which provides birth control, sex education, general medical care, cancer screenings, and STD testing to low-income men and women. It looks like repealing ACA and eliminating insurance coverage for birth control. Anti-choice legislation takes many forms, and it affects all of us.
Pro-choice legislation reduces abortions. It’s that simple.
If you consider yourself “pro-life,” and legitimately want to reduce the number of abortions, you simply cannot support anti-choice legislation. It has been proven over and over that pro-choice legislation reduces the number of abortions. This is fact. End of story.
Pro-choice legislation isn’t just about abortions; it’s about taking care of each other.
Many of the people who support the anti-choice legislation or dismantling pro-choice legislation are members of the religious right. As so-called Christians, they supposedly follow the teachings and ways of Jesus, who preached a gospel of helping the less fortunate and taking care of each other.
Yet, oddly enough, the anti-choice policies of the religious right hurt low-income women and families the most. As Adam Jacobs, who leads the family-planning division at Mount Sinai, told New York Magazine’s The Cut that anti-choice legislation could put “women — and clearly low-income women — in the situation of having to choose between food on their table and birth control. To force them to make a decision about whether to lay out $700 for an IUD? It’s disgusting.”
Disgusting indeed. You know what else is disgusting? Making a woman pay hundreds of dollars for an IUD while giving little blue boner pills to men for free (with insurance). It disgusting, hypocritical, and messed up.
Reproductive rights are about more than sex and babies.
Reproductive rights impact everything else in our life. Everything. Whether or when a woman chooses to have a child impacts all aspects of her life: education, career, earnings potential, marital situation, housing, everything. You literally cannot legislate reproductive rights without also impacting things like education, criminal justice, child care, the wage gap, and housing.
Two words: Coat Hangers.
We’ve all heard the horror stories about women dying because of DIY abortions or inadequate medical care before Roe v. Wade, but these aren’t just horror stories, they are real stories. This stuff happened. Women literally died seeking abortions before they were made legal.
If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the states will be given authority to legislate whether, how, and when a woman can get an abortion. On its face, this might not seem problematic because states could potentially enact legislation that protects a woman’s right to choose. But that isn’t certain. One state’s policies might differ significantly from those of another, which would require women to travel great distances to obtain safe medical treatment — a luxury that many women simply do not have. We can’t let the coat hanger stories of the past become the reality of our future.
Chances are you know someone who had an abortion.
Some studies estimate that 1 in 3 women will have had some kind of abortion in her lifetime. I was one of those women. Eight years I had an abortion procedure after I suffered a missed miscarriage. The procedure is more commonly known as a D&C, but it is an abortion nonetheless. These policies and laws don’t just impact some hypothetical stranger; they impact your daughters and neighbors and sisters. They impact you.
Ultimately, it’s as simple as this: If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. But if you are truly pro-life, then pro-choice legislation is the only way to actually support life, so don’t be a hypocrite.