Lies, Lollipops, & Blood on Their Hands: Abortion is Essential (Mental) Health Care
A personal post
A few weeks ago I made a “joke” with some friends that you can explain away so many of our country’s irrational political takes with some variation of, “That’s just how much we hate women!!!” Feels less and less like a joke with each passing day.
The reversal of Roe v. Wade (and Planned Parenthood v. Casey) has devastated me.
It has devastated me for professional reasons. I recently started practicing therapy again and, as I have previously discussed, the mental health consequences of being denied an abortion outweigh those of receiving one. You are 14 times more likely to die during pregnancy or giving birth than from an abortion. Homicide is the number one cause of death for pregnant people, with many citing the escalation of intimate partner violence during pregnancy as the main contribution. As The New England Journal of Medicine Editorial Board put it:
“Without federal protection, recent state laws curtailing or eliminating the right to abortion care will deny Americans’ reproductive autonomy and create an Orwellian dystopia.”
It has devastated me simply because forcing anyone to be pregnant or give birth against their will is a human rights violation. As a former (and potentially future) pregnant person, as a woman, as an adoptee, as someone who cares for multiple people in her life whose lives were saved (literally and figuratively) by abortions1, this news is shattering. Becoming a mother has only made me more adamant that no one should be forced to undergo the trauma of pregnancy and labor without their consent, and no child should enter this world other than being desperately, urgently wanted.
It has devastated me for political reasons, because this is just as much about saving children’s lives as anti-trans laws are about protecting “women.” In other words: Not at all.
Finally, the news has devastated me because it brings back a life that I intentionally left behind. Growing up in conservative rural Ohio, anti-choice rhetoric was the air I breathed. I have been to a haunted house where the main attraction was a gruesome scene of a doctor performing an abortion. On one election day, I was surrounded by every Catholic student in my high school wearing shirts that read, “You can’t be pro-choice and Catholic.” My doctor in Indiana told me that I needed to lie to say that my birth control pills were for my acne, otherwise she couldn’t prescribe them. My first baby shower I ever attended for a friend was when I was 17 years old. She was also 17. I hadn’t even had sex yet; the prospect terrified me. Every year, there was another school assembly that used some food euphemism to shame girls into thinking that we were sluts if we had sex and that if we got pregnant, it was all our fault. No one wants to eat an unwrapped, already-licked lollipop, right?
Sometimes I think that the majority of my life choices as an adult have been in service of running away from this previous life, gasping for better air. It feels like I’m choking again.
I know I’m not providing much science or data today, but I wanted to write to say that, well, I’m going through shit. I imagine you are, too. You aren’t alone.
The National Network of Abortion Funds and Abortion Funds in Every State allow you to find your local abortion fund - organizations that have been helping people afford abortions for decades (mine is the Eastern Massachusetts Abortion Fund)
Abortion Access Front is hosting an online advocacy/activism training on Sunday, July 17 (info here)
Things I’ve been reading
Lyz Lenz on witnessing a truck try to kill two peaceful protesters at a rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa:
In the hours and now days since the incident, I’ve had people tell me we should have been more polite and better behaved. Was I sure, they ask, that the people injured didn’t somehow incite it? As if anyone deserves to be hit by a car. As if anyone can be good enough to protect them from the violence of our country. I witnessed a man try to kill people and in response, people told me I should be nicer.
You can’t politely smile hard enough for the state to give you your rights back. You cannot be sweet enough to protect yourself from violence. You cannot dress in a dress pretty enough. You can’t be blonde or white enough to protect you from what is coming.
Anne Helen Petersen on how “Your State Will Not Save You” (plus a ton more resources, including where I heard about the Abortion Access Front training - don't skip the comment section!)
Though it was written after Uvalde, Tressie McMillan Cottom’s “Caring Is All We Seem Able to Do” lives rent-free in my mind on the limits of consumer-citizenship
Jessica Valenti on “What to Tell Our Daughters”
An in-depth discussion of whether or not you should delete your period tracking data (tl;dr probably not, but there’s other data tracking you should possibly be more concerned about)
I keep revisiting this NY Times Magazine piece, “The Abortion I Didn’t Have”
I just bought Angela Garbes’ Essential Labor: Mothering as Social Change but haven’t started it yet. Join me?
Though being “life-saving” should not be a qualification for abortion access! No abortion is morally superior to any other abortion!!!