Ms. Magazine‘s Winter 2022 issue carries the cover story “We Have Had Abortions.” It’s a deliberate echo of their first issue in 1972 that carried a list of prominent women under the cover title “Women Tell the Truth About Their Abortions.” Back then, abortion was a radical, illegal, expensive and dangerous procedure in most states. Ms. has reasons for mirroring their own history–to remind us of how long we have lived under the protections of Roe v Wade and rededicate us to the fight to keep women’s bodies autonomous. My takeaway is: we’re stuck. It’s a shock to look into that mirror and realize that the most recent fight for women’s rights is a 50-year war of attrition.
Nearly 34 percent of U.S. states have laws on the books that limit women’s access to abortion or are about to pass such laws. Texas’s recent restrictions get the most press but make no mistake, this usurping of a woman’s absolute right to healthcare is going on in every state. Just as The Big Lie is a coordinated effort to attack voting rights at the local level in all of the 50, Roe v Wade is under attack in our courts, at the political podium and in our churches.
Protests are effective at keeping an issue front and center in people’s minds. But how many times have I driven by Planned Parenthood on San Mateo and not had my mind changed by the earnest people kneeling and praying on the sidewalk?
We need to make more than the freedoms set forth in Roe v Wade into law. Slogans and pink pussy hats make us feel valiant but we’re losing every battle. As much as it pains me to think that half of this country needs a law to protect their bodies from others’ religious views, I think we must take that political football out of the game. A broader Women’s Rights Act is needed now.
The Women’s Health Protection Act failed in the Senate just a few weeks ago due to filibustering on the Republican side. The Act specifically would have protected the right to an abortion. I realize it was another first step towards a larger purpose but its aim was too specific. While the House and Senate are dithering this week over whether or not to fund studies into possible Heritage sites in Guam, women need to look to the larger picture. We’re not just discriminated against in the health care arena. When you take into consideration insurance benefits and extra income, we still make 57 cents for every dollar earned by a man. Our personal resources are stretched by the expenses of every day life. We can’t keep fighting every battle in court.
Our opponents are coming next for other forms of birth control. I have a cousin–an executive who works in the pharmaceutical industry, no less–who believes that the birth control pill is a chemical abortion, fervently believes it, and takes that egregious misinformation with him into the voting booth. Many believe the same. Our lives cannot be stymied by the myths that others have faith in.
I have never had an abortion. During the period that I was exploring my sexuality, I had access to a safe, effective and affordable method of birth control. I had no intention of getting pregnant while I was in college and I later became childless by choice. Whether I was selfish, cautious, scared or wicked is nobody’s business but my own.