So obviously Texas isn’t the only state in the nation to try to limit access to abortion, just the latest in a long line to implement regressive policies when it comes to women’s reproductive health. This article from ABC News offers a great rundown of states that are working to limit women’s access to reproductive freedom. I am also mad at all those states.
Why am I so mad about this? Hint one: I have a brain – and a vagina. But it’s more than that. This isn’t just about abortion, or whether or not it should be legal. Which, OBVIOUSLY, it should. And it should be legal without rigmarole, without arbitrary restrictions and humiliations, and without the stigma attached to it. Now, I’m not encouraging abortion – absolutely not – but if you live in a country that refuses to properly educate people about safe sex and pregnancy prevention, a country that doesn’t offer free sustainable birth control to poor/uninsured populations (or the education to use them), and a country that seems obsessed with fetuses but could give two shits about actual children, then allowing the option of terminating a pregnancy is essential.
I spent two years working with kids in foster care. Kids that were born to parents with a myriad of problems ranging from drug abuse to mental illness to intellectual disabilities to homelessness. And while the vast majority of them loved their children (with only a few notable exceptions) they couldn’t care for them (also with a few notable exceptions). They couldn’t care for the children they had now, not to mention the children they would continue to have (or had already lost).
It sounds harsh and callous to say that these parents would have been better off if they hadn’t of had their children. But they would of. They wouldn’t have given birth to children who were neglected, abused physically, emotionally, or sexually. Children who would ultimately be removed from their homes and placed with other families, some more capable than others of caring for them. And no matter how great the foster home or the relative placement, that doesn’t erase the trauma that these children will carry with them for the rest of their lives. It also doesn’t erase the trauma their parents went through of losing their children, trauma that could have prevented with a little foresight (or free IUDs).
I got pregnant when I was 29. By that time, I had my MSW, a steady employment history, a partner who I knew would be a good father and husband, a healthy savings account, and a plan. I conceived easily and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She was not a surprise. And the reason she wasn’t a surprise was because I had been on birth control since I was 18. Birth control that was largely paid for by insurance (or accessed from Planned Parenthood during the grad school years when I didn’t have insurance). And even if she had been a surprise, even if I’d been younger, or less financially stable, I still would have had other advantages – an education, a supportive (and also financially stable) family. If I’d been 25 and gotten pregnant, I probably wouldn’t have had an abortion – but I would have been grateful for the choice.
And that’s really the crux of the matter. Decisions like the one in Texas, or Ohio, or North Dakota, make choice impossible. The choice they offer is: Don’t have sex. And most anyone knows that’s an untenable choice for most people. Laws like this – laws that restrict abortion while doing absolutely nothing to increase access to birth control (and in fact often reduce access to affordable birth control – you close Planned Parenthood, you do more than close an abortion provider. You also limit a woman’s ability to screen for cancer or monitor their sexual and reproductive health.) basically leave a woman with her hands tied. Don’t have sex or do and risk getting pregnant with a child they don’t want or can’t support. Most people take the risk, because, come on, they are human.
So basically laws like the one passed in Texas, punish women for being able to conceive. They punish women who aren’t able to or don’t, for whatever reason, use birth control. They punish women who want to control their bodies, their lives. They punish women for being women. And as a result, they punish children.
This makes me angry. It should make you angry too.