Abortions have been around as long as sex. Potions, herbs, magic, old wives tales, and quacks have provided the service to women for thousands of years, because desperate women turn to desperate measures.
Problem was, many of these abortions were often unsafe, ineffective, and in some cases, deadly.
Roe V. Wade changed that in the 70’s. By giving women the right to choose whether to carry a fetus to term, a host of other medical rights followed. It wasn’t simply legal abortion that gave women choices about their lives; it was also better health care that included prenatal, post miscarriage, and post-natal care. In addition, Roe ensured that a pregnancy gone wrong could be dealt with on a clinical level, without stigma or judgment. The decision opened doors to reproductive counseling and birth control accessibility, empowering women to control their futures, much like men had always been able to do.
Sure, over the past 50 years there were signs that Roe hadn’t quieted the shouts and cries of the Right; only those not paying attention thought the fight was over. Red states whittled away at the weeks a woman could legally obtain an abortion, as well as the number of places to get one. Those states often included intrusive mandatory counseling that demonized the abortion procedure. Religious leaders proselytized from the pulpits about the hellish activities of baby killers. And in 2017, an electoral college put a man in office who had run on the promise of appointing only anti-abortion judges to the bench, including the Supreme Court.
Then June 24, 2022 happened, and women’s rights began falling like a house of cards. Even women who advocated for unborn fetuses found out that they, too, could be a casualty of Dobbs, as women across the country lost access to birth control, necessary D&C’s after miscarriages, and reproductive counseling at health departments. In a blink of an eye, women lost the right to determine their own health and control their own futures. In many states, women can no longer decide when or with whom to start a family or whether or not they can emotionally carry to term a fetus with no chance of survival. An ectopic pregnancy can be a death sentence in a red state, as politicians and the courts, rather than doctors, decide whether or not an abortion procedure is allowed.
Statistically, most women who get an abortion are already mothers. They choose to end an unplanned pregnancy for many reasons: expense of another child on a limited budget, interruption to career path, no desire to parent with the father. Ironically, the same politicians who thump their chests and proclaim themselves saviors of the unborn seem disinterested in the born children their policies create. Children are expensive, but the party that runs against abortion also runs against food stamps, health care, low-income housing, or father involvement, all of which might make an unexpected pregnancy a possibility rather than a curse.
Without the right to make decisions about reproductive care, women struggle in a world favorable to men who will never know the intrusion to body, soul, and career that an unwanted pregnancy brings. Without the right to health care that followed the Roe decision, women will continue the struggle to make medical decisions about their bodies, but they’ll stay under the thumb of rabid legislators who proclaim to love a fetus while enslaving its mother.
Unfortunately for our girl Jane, she is still twirling the Doctor’s card between trembling fingers.