Here are six things to think about as we reframe the abortion rights debate going forward
It was devastating when the US Supreme Court decided to reverse the precedent-setting case Roe v. Wade.
And with it, millions of women’s and expectant people’s access to abortion rights.
Not just in the US, but all over the world, it will have an influence.
With only one choice, reproductive rights could start to be restricted in Europe (where I live) too.
Additionally, global gains in reproductive healthcare could be postponed.
As Jia Tolentino points out in her New Yorker article, We’re Not Going Back to the Time Before Roe. We’re Going Somewhere Worse; we’re in a worse situation in many ways.
This should not discourage us.
It should strengthen our resolve to address the challenge of abortion law worldwide in a manner appropriate to the twenty-first century.
Here are six things to think about as we reframe the abortion rights debate
1. Be unrepentantly pro-abortion
Abortion is a medical procedure. Access to medical treatment is a human right.
Healthcare is not a matter of opinion; it’s a matter of fact.
Abortion belongs to healthcare. If we want to promote reproductive justice, this is the main case we must be making.
Because it encourages reasonable people to weigh the appropriateness of basic medical care, abortion advocates prefer to portray the “debate” over abortion as a moral issue. We must avoid stumbling into this trap.
It is insufficient to think that abortion should only be legal in extreme cases, such as rape, incest, or when continuing the pregnancy endangers the pregnant person’s life.
By suggesting that abortions done for other reasons are somehow improper, bringing up these discrepancies just feeds the anti-abortion movement’s propaganda machine.
So, to guarantee that individuals always have access to the care they require when they require it, we must move forward, and be unequivocally and unwaveringly pro-abortion.
2. Respect abortion funds’ efforts
The seeming resurgence of the feminist movement may be the only positive to be drawn from the course of events in the US (and even that is extremely debatable).
However, like with any groundswell of support that occurs after a disaster, we must keep in mind that plenty of beneficial action is already being taken by individuals who have a deeper understanding of the pertinent issues.
The National Network of Abortion Funds links more than 90 local abortion funds in the US to help those who want an abortion overcome the financial and practical barriers to getting the medical care they require.
Organizations that support abortion are also active in Europe. In nations including Ireland, Malta, Poland, and Hungary, the Abortion Support Network assists women who are pregnant in getting an abortion.
Women on the Web offers abortion pills to people who can’t get them in their native nation globally.
Marie Stopes International, now known as MSI Reproductive Choices, works in 37 nations to offer contraception, risk-free abortion, and post-abortion care.
3. Steer clear of images of coat hangers
Over the years, the coat hanger has served as a recurrent emblem of the pro-abortion movement.
It is a stark and terrifying image that depicts a time when women were forced to act frantically to abort their pregnancies.
The coat hanger was one of the many risky and frequently futile ways to induce an abortion on oneself, and it was especially common in the years before Roe.
There are safe ways to induce abortion now, but we are in the post-Roe era and not the pre-Roe one.
The coat hanger abortion isn’t completely out of date, though.
A Tennessee woman attempted to use a wire hanger to abort her pregnancy in 2015 and was then taken to the hospital (later arrested).
Combining the medications mifepristone and misoprostol can result in abortion within the first 11 weeks of pregnancy. The procedure can be performed without a doctor’s assistance and is up to 96% safe.
We must spread the word about risk-free self-inducing abortion techniques as a result.
So let’s share information on how to properly access abortion pills and other forms of safe abortion rather than coat hanger imagery.
4. Make sure transgender people are included
Although women make up the bulk of those who get abortions, trans males, intersex, and non-binary individuals also need access to reproductive healthcare. By keeping them out of the battle, we gain nothing.
It’s no coincidence that several hundred pieces of anti-trans legislation were introduced in the US the same year the Supreme Court struck down Roe v. Wade.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that misogyny, which inspired the SCOTUS decision, has origins in discrimination against trans persons.
5. Avoid referencing The Handmaid’s Tale
In the novel The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, women are compelled to bear children in a patriarchal, white supremacist society.
It is simple to understand why similarities between the book and the current state of affairs may have been drawn.
However, by doing so, you privilege the white experience. You ignore the experiences (past, present, and most likely future) of those who would be most affected by the abortion ban, namely Black and Brown people for whom oppression of this kind is nothing new.
African American women have experienced the most heinous manifestations of racism and misogyny in the US. Women who were held as slaves endured frequent rapes, unnecessary gynecological procedures, and naked auctions.
White women had a significant role in advancing the anti-abortion agenda that gave rise to this latest atrocity, just as white men were responsible for the crimes of slavery and Jim Crow.
6. Speak up about the achievements we’ve made
It can be tempting for non-US citizens to play it safe while discussing the rights we still enjoy in other areas of the world in light of all the sorrow.
But what we should be doing is the exact reverse of this.
2018 saw the repeal of an amendment to the Constitution in the Republic of Ireland, a longtime pillar of the Catholic anti-abortion movement, allowing abortion up to 12 weeks of gestation.
In fact, Latin America is paving the way for a well-organized and successful reproductive justice movement.
These achievements are nonetheless tenuous in light of the Roe decision being reversed.
This article was inspired by a movement of the The Physicians of Reproductive Healthcare (PRH) on Instagram. These doctors are advocating unrestricted access to reproductive healthcare for all.
As we’ve seen, a right that many people take for granted can be eliminated with the stroke of a gavel — particularly if we don’t work to strengthen it.
If we are to uphold and promote reproductive justice, we must shout from the rooftops that access to reproductive healthcare in all its forms is an essential human right.
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