This morning as I woke up to the news I had expected, Roe essentially overturned, but distressed nonetheless. The first thing I thought of was not my daughters.
Because my daughters will be fine. Even if they ended up pregnant one day and didn’t want to be, we have access. We could pay for an abortion in another state or another country. There’s a safety net if they decided to keep it. It would change their life dramatically, but it wouldn’t sink them into poverty. Or keep them there. They’d be ok.
No, I’m thinking of the women I spoke with during my time as a TEA Fund volunteer, working the lines to provide funding to help cover the cost of peoples’ abortions in north Texas. It wasn’t much. There was only enough money to have two days of funding and that money never went far. But it made a huge difference for those few who received it. Because not only in Texas was there the concern about getting the funding but then it was where will the procedure take place – sometimes a race against the clock because of all the barriers in place to prevent abortions and run out the clock.
I had a list of questions that I had to ask them and fill in their responses. How old are you? How far along are you? Things like that. And here’s what broke my heart. There was never a question about why they decided to have an abortion, but every person answered it.
They lost their job, a spouse left, no healthcare, a child at home they already had to care for, etc. It was never those evil pictures that forced-birth advocates painted, but every person I spoke with felt the guilt and sting of how society had demonized their decision. I always told them they never had to justify their decision to me. I supported whatever choice they made. I wasn’t here to judge them.
I’m also thinking of my dear friend – I’ll call her M for privacy. A few years ago she had an abortion for a pregnancy she very much wanted. At 21 weeks she found out her unborn child was missing part of his brain and wouldn’t survive. It was a harrowing decision. But, instead of resting in her hospital bed after delivery she was writing to members of the Texas State Legislature and Congress. The same week she had an after 20 week abortion the Texas Legislature was debating whether or not to criminalize people who have abortions after 20 weeks. I can’t think of anything crueler than that juxtaposition.
People like my friends are hero’s. The real supporters of life. In their darkest hours they remain committed to fighting for others, when really they should have been healing and not worried about if they’ll be jailed, the expenses, etc.
I know you don’t need me to say that this isn’t how we support people who bear children. That if we really wanted it to help people – children – we’d have affordable healthcare, daycare, better wages, etc. That this is an issue conservatives cling to, to garner votes and raise money.
Honestly, I wish I had answers. I have a few ideas though if you’re like me and need to do something.
1. Support your state legislature races: State races are not sexy, but they are SO important and where you feel change first. Texas Dems only needed to pick up 9 seats in 2020 to take control. That could have meant no permit-less gun carry, no further stripping of voting rights and no 6 week draconian abortion bans. See who’s running and volunteer. Or donate. Or donate to orgs that support candidates like Run For Something.
3. If you can reproduce, find a birth control and get on it. Buy pregnancy tests in bulk. If you don’t want to get pregnant and are sexually active the best thing you can arm yourself with is knowledge. 6 weeks is really a 2 week ban because the earliest you can find out you’re pregnant is 4 weeks and that IS SUPER early.
We didn’t get rid of abortions today. We got rid of safe abortions. We got rid of legal abortions. You are not safe because you don’t live in Texas. The lack of action from the SC sets a precedent for other states who have similar lawsuits working their way through the system.
It’s time for structural change. It’s time to see Roe as a stepping stone to even greater protection for individuals’ rights to medial procedures and bodily autonomy. I don’t know if we can save Roe. We have to think bigger.
We’re running out of time.