Across the country, hundreds of communities are protesting the recent passage of new abortion bans that strip women of the most fundamental decision-making power over their own lives. The decision whether to have a child or not, is at the crux of our control over our bodies, our identities, the relationships we choose to be in, indeed what life we choose to live.
Eight states: Kentucky, Mississippi, Ohio, Arkansas, Utah, Georgia, Alabama and Missouri have passed draconian laws this year banning abortion. Seven of these laws ban abortion after the 6th week of pregnancy, a point when most women do not yet know they are pregnant, but Alabama’s ban is total, with a 99 year jail sentence for women and any health care providers that help them end a pregnancy. Several provide no exceptions for the health of the mother, or rape or incest.
These bans will be challenged and brought to a US Supreme Court now tilted dangerously to the right. If you have ever wondered what the world would look like if women could be jailed for a miscarriage, or forced to carry a pregnancy from rape or incest, you may soon get to find out.
Protecting access to safe abortion and family planning is a healthcare issue. But in the midst of a time when democratic norms are under coordinated assault, I can’t help but also seeing this as an attack on women’s legal equality as citizens.
How is that? Consider that according the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, “Early pregnancy loss is common, occurring in 10% of all clinically recognized pregnancies.” Any women experiencing miscarriage may now be investigated, prosecuted and at risk of imprisonment. What kinds of evidence will be required of women who suffer miscarriages, to show that they took enough care, enough precautions to not now be charged with murder? Felons aren’t allowed to vote, if you recall.
Even women who manage to stay out of jail and keep voting will be doing so in a world where the full burden of childbearing and childrearing falls on them without affordable health care, without parental leave protections, and without income equality. Our citizenship, our very equality under the law, is being attacked.
There ARE things that we’re going to be able to do to fight back. America banned abortion before and we came out the other side.
This show is not just about how bad things are, it’s about how we fight back. But in order to orient ourselves correctly, in order to understand the stakes, and in order to commit appropriately to the response, we have to understand clearly what is happening.
Despite having seen the right wing claw and bludgeon it’s way to this moment for my whole adult life, I still cannot quite accept that this is where we are. The promise of equality is what is being destroyed on so many levels. It’s too depressing to contemplate.
One of the reasons I started the ResistanceMom podcast in October of 2018 was because there is almost nowhere where I can talk to other people about everything that’s happening. It’s truly too depressing to let it in. Here I am: ResistanceMom herself, a lifelong activist, and I can’t actually talk about what we are all seeing with almost anyone. I can’t talk about it with my 8 year old. It’s the end of pleasant conversation at the dinner table. My friends are managing all the pressures of life every day and mostly just can’t go there. It’s too crushingly depressing.
So I write what I’m thinking and record this podcast. Without a place to express our thoughts and feelings, we will pull away from the civic life of this nation at the moment it most needs us. The fears we submerge will undermine our very sanity.
If you care about this country. If you care about being an equal citizen in your community, find the place you will make for letting this information in. That might be listening to a podcast, or an political discussion group, or within an advocacy organization like Planned Parenthood or Moms Demand.
Let it in. Build a place in your routine that lets you connect with other people, people who can look you in the eye (not via social media) and talk about where we are. Find the work that will be your part of fighting back.