Eight months ago, I had an abortion. It was safe, comfortable, accessible, and dignified because I was lucky and lived in a state where it was easy to obtain. I found out I was pregnant very early – 2 days before my missed period (AKA, three weeks pregnant), which is so much sooner than most women. I knew immediately that abortion was the best option for me, so I found a clinic and called that day. I told them I wanted their earliest appointment, but they informed me that, medically, I had to wait until I was at least 5 weeks so they could ensure it wasn’t an ectopic pregnancy. This happened just weeks before Texas’ 6-week ban was enacted. I remember reading people’s comments on Twitter saying that 6-weeks was a completely reasonable amount of time – that if women waited longer than 6 weeks, they were just being lazy. Imagine that. The clinic won’t perform the abortion until 5 weeks and the government won’t let you get one after 6 weeks. Now imagine there is only one clinic in your state, it’s a hundred miles away, you have to take two days off work to travel, have to find child-care, have to have a pre-counseling session, and then a waiting period. Now imagine doing all of that in one week. If you’re even able to get an appointment at all.
Now they’ve overturned Roe completely and my heart is broken. It is broken for the girls who will have their childhood and their futures ripped away. My heart is breaking for the mother of four who doesn’t want any more children. It breaks for the survivors of sexual assault who will be forced to carry a pregnancy, reminding them of their trauma every minute of every day. I grieve for all the women and people with uteruses who are being told that their lives are worth less than an embryo – that, as Americans, they now have fewer rights than they did yesterday. I grieve for my sisters, around the world, who will also be impacted by the United States’ regression on reproductive healthcare.
But I am also furious. And I am ready to fight. We, as feminists, progressives, and activists, need to get organized. Not only with protests and political mobilizing but also with our messaging. For so long, we have been caught up in the debate about when life begins. That is the question that every pro-lifer has been desperate to answer and how we now find ourselves in this position. In my experience, that question only leads down a long, tortuous rabbit hole – descending into conversations on morality, science, ethics, religion, and medicine. I’m here to say – it doesn’t matter.
It doesn’t matter when life begins because in our country we have a strong moral, legal, and medical ethical precedent for bodily autonomy. In our country, you cannot be compelled by the state to give up your body to save someone else. Imagine a child is dying of leukemia and your bone marrow is a match – the only match. You might be the only person in the world who could save this child, but the state cannot compel you to donate your bone marrow. Technically, you only need one kidney to live, and your liver can regenerate, and yet you cannot be forced to donate your organs. There have been over 250 mass shootings in 2022 alone, and yet you are not required by the state to donate blood to help save the victims. When you die, the state cannot take your organs without your consent and the consent of your family.
And yet when women don’t want to be pregnant, they have no choice? We now find ourselves in a world where corpses have more bodily autonomy than women and people with uteruses. I understand why people feel strongly about abortion. We live in a multicultural society where people’s religions have contrasting teachings and beliefs. You might not agree with my choices as I may disagree with yours. But in a free society, what is more fundamental than the right to control your own body? Choosing to bring life into the world is a stunning, courageous, and powerful decision. It’s time to refocus, reclaim our power, and remind lawmakers that we are here. I had an abortion, and I am not ashamed. I will fight to ensure that our daughters, when we choose to birth them, live in a world where their worth is not determined by which reproductive organs they have, but by the fact that they are American, and they are free.