The internet was all about abortion this week, and I’m dedicating this post to that conversation. Bodily autonomy is an essential right. It is a human right. Reproductive rights and access safe legal abortion is part of the human right of bodily autonomy, in guaranteeing equal rights for men and women.
Most of the articles here are from this week and address recent abortion legislation in Ohio, Georgia, Alabama, Missouri, in addition to passed and proposed laws in other states. Some of these laws are stricter than their pre-Roe v. Wade counterparts, a worrying sign that post-Roe could be worse than before. However, there are a few states that are broadening access. One article here is older, but I liked the perspective it offered and decided to include it anyway.
There are no highlights this week, only the fight for bodily autonomy and reproductive rights in America.
Apart from doing a good job of clearly articulating what the Alabama Abortion Bill means legally, I like this piece because Imani Gandy uses the term “pregnant people” and “people who can get pregnant” instead of women to be more inclusive of non-binary and trans people who can also get pregnant. While the bans are extremely severe in their restrictions, “it is important to understand that overturning Roe isn’t necessary in order to decimate abortion rights in this country. There are plenty of restrictions and regulations that don’t necessarily butt up against Roe, but which decimate access to such an extent that having a legal right to abortion doesn’t mean anything because having a right doesn’t mean much if you can’t have access to that right.”
One of the reasons the Alabama bill, in particular, is so divisive is because it does not make exceptions for rape and incest, which “seems outrages and cruel… denying abortion to anyone who wants one and who needs one is cruel, whether they’ve been raped or not.” Only affording someone bodily autonomy after they have had it taken away from them is not okay. Everyone has the right to bodily autonomy
2. Wired: ‘Heartbeat’ Bills Get The Science of Fetal Heartbeats All Wrong
One of the most interesting, and honestly predictable, things about the recent legislation and conversation is how many people seem to have a fundamental lack of knowledge and misunderstanding of female reproductive anatomy, and how fetuses actually develop in the womb. A lot of these new bills are being lauded as ‘heartbeat’ bills, meaning that abortions would not be allowed after a fetus has a heartbeat.
The issue with most bills understanding of a ‘heartbeat’ is that “at six weeks, the embryo is forming what will eventually develop into mature systems. There’s an immature neurological system and very immature cardiovascular system,” says Jennifer Kerns, an ob-gyn. “The rhythm specified in the six-week abortion bans,” she continued “is a group of cells with electrical activity. That’s what the heartbeat is at that stage of gestation … We are in no way talking about any kind of cardiovascular system.”
The use of the anti-choice term “unborn human individual” as a reason to ban abortions depends a lot on “whether you think a 3- to 4-millimeter-long, partially organized blob of cells is a human individual or not. It also depends on whether you think the government or the person in whom those cells reside gets to make that determination.” Further, a lot of these bills don’t seem to understand how pregnancy is calculated, and that it is not uncommon for people not to know that they are pregnant until after they are 6 weeks along.
3. Them: Abortion Rights Are LGBTQ+ Rights, Too — And We Need to Fight Back
Apart from a very few articles, most of the conversations around the recent abortion bans have been focused on cis-women and is very heteronormative. We need to remember that LGBTQIA+ people also have uteruses, can also get pregnant, will also be affected by the bans, and “researchers have consistently found that queer people are more likely to experience poverty than non-queer people, and because impoverished people are more likely to rely on healthcare facilities that provide abortion, closing these clinics means severing some of the most marginalized within our community from accessible healthcare.” Further, “many of the activists behind recent anti-abortion bills are also anti-gay conservative fundamentalists.”
When reading these articles and discussing abortion remember to change women to “people who can get pregnant” or to “women, trans, non-binary, and gender queer people.”
4. Quartz: A brief history of a marketing masterpiece: branding the anti-abortion movement “pro-life”
Although the term “pro-life” is typically used to talking about those that support the recent ban, we should really be calling them what that are: anti-abortion, or anti-choice. Using the term “pro-life” is a PR stunt, and “the success of the label is largely due to its ability to frame the issue not as standing against something (a woman’s choice) but in favor of it (life).” It is such a successful campaign, in fact, that a lot of pro-choice rhetoric has evolved to counter it, but “the framing around choice isn’t however quite as strong as the one around life: in their very label, pro-life advocates accuse their opponents to be anti-life; and while the pro-choice label replies that their opponents are, in turn, anti-choice, the seriousness of such accusation doesn’t seem to compare.” Although, in actuality, it does.
This whole history also pairs with a recent push, especially in film, to create anti-abortion abortion projects, countering mainstream liberal pop culture.
It is easy to blame the right for abortion bans and the infrastructure, a well-funded effort by an extreme minority, to pass them were not created overnight. This has been a decades-long fight which frankly many on the left have ignored and sometimes supported. Many Democrats have “long supported the Hyde Amendment, the legislative rider that has barred the use of federal insurance programs from paying for abortion, making reproductive health care inaccessible to poor women since 1976.”
We should be “almost as mad at many on the left, theoretically on the side of reproductive rights and justice, who have refused, somehow, to see this coming or act aggressively to forestall it.” Members of the Democratic Party “have relied on the engaged fury of voters committed to reproductive autonomy to elect them, at the same time that they have treated the efforts of activists trying to stave off this future as inconvenient irritants.”
One of the reasons abortion is such a contentious issue is because it is personal, but also because it is sooooo intersectional. Race, class, gender, sexuality, and more all play parts in who does and does not have access to healthcare and birth control in the first place, and access to safe abortions if need be. To talk about abortion without addressing how “it is white men who are the primary beneficiaries of such policies” is ahistorical. If the anti-abortionist movement really cared about life, then “it wouldn’t put the lives of doctors, patients and clinic employees in jeopardy to make its argument” and “states would be more concerned with their terrible infant mortality rates than they would about saving fetuses.” The abortion bans are not about religion and morality, or life. They are about power and control. And “the only God that matters most to these guys is themselves.”
7. Washington Post: When life begins and ends
The pro-life rhetoric of anti-abortionist claims frames their argument as “all lives matter,” which we know from history and the Black Lives Matter movement isn’t true. As a society, we don’t value all lives equally, and the answer to the question “when, exactly, do you stop being worth protecting” depends on a lot of things.
The timeline is different for everyone, and “somewhere between conception and when you perish at age 26 after rationing your insulin, or at 27 after undergoing an unwanted Caesarean section, or at 32 in your car during a traffic stop, the moment comes. After that moment, preserving your heartbeat is a matter of total indifference. We must identify this moment. We must study it. We must see how long we can delay this moment’s unfortunate arrival.”
8. CNN: Alabama doctor: Why I won’t stop providing abortions
Being a doctor in a country that does not value or support healthcare must be exhausting. To all of the doctors and healthcare professionals providing abortions, birth control, and reproductive healthcare, THANK YOU. To all of the doctors advocating for equity in healthcare, thank you. I see you, and I thank you.
9. GQ: Cory Booker: An Open Letter to Men on Abortion
Although many people, not just women, can get pregnant, abortion is usually seen as a women’s issues. It is not. It is about bodily autonomy. It is about control and power over human bodies and this affects everyone.
Presidential hopeful Cory Booker has vocally been against recent bans writing that they attack “fundamental freedoms and agency [are] a blatant assault on constitutional and human rights.” Booker continues with a call to men “to listen, to speak out, and to take action. Not because women are our mothers, sisters, wives or friends—but because women are people. And all people deserve to control their own bodies.”
Men on Twitter have also been addressing little they talking about abortion and sharing personal experiences they have had with it (the thread is very interesting but can be triggering and has a lot of anti-abortion comments). While Booker is not the only Democratic presidential hopeful addressing the bans, he has been one of the most vocal men. Earlier this week Elizabeth Warren also came out with an extensive pro-choice platform, and Kristen Gillibrand has also taken a solid position.
10. TeenVogue: Where to Donate and How to Help Keep Abortion Legal
It is terrifying, thinking about the threats to reproductive rights. People are rightfully outraged that our rights are being taken away, and all of that energy can be used for change. When considering how to help those affected by the abortion bans, or secure and increase access to people where you live, “we need to keep in mind that there are people and organizations who have been doing the work to champion and save reproductive justice and abortion rights.”
Give to abortion funds, and help grassroots organizations that have been doing this work for years. This article has links to all different organizations in states affected by the recent bands, and steps on how to find ways to help in your local community.
*All images taken from reference articles*
Have a suggestion for next week? Email [email protected] with the subject line “The Internet is Exploding.”