It’s Never Been About Abortion

Control holds much more appeal

Photo taken by author, in front of the U. S. Supreme Court

In early 2010, I found out I was pregnant for the first time. My husband and I were so thrilled. We told our family and friends, just prior to our first ultrasound appointment, but after we’d confirmed the pregnancy with my doctor’s office via blood test. A couple of weeks after we told our family, we went to have our first ultrasound. It’s such an exciting moment for expectant parents! We held each other’s hands as we waited for the ultrasound tech. We watched as she moved the wand around inside of me, getting an up close and personal look at my uterus.

Eventually, she stopped and said she’d be right back with the doctor. This being our first ever ultrasound we had no idea what was going on, so we were blissfully unaware of anything unusual. My doctor told us that I had a blighted ovum, a form of miscarriage where the body creates a sac for the baby, elevates hormone levels, and thickens the uterine walls, but stops before making the baby. I had two choices: go home and wait for the miscarriage to happen naturally or go to the hospital for a dilation and curettage (D&C) so that they could get all of the sac, etc. out of my body. Natural miscarriage carried a higher chance of infection and no one could tell me when my body would actually start the process. It could have been that evening, the next day or a week later. There were no guarantees. Right then, even knowing that, I wanted to do it at home because I was sad and afraid. The next morning, while I was at work (Yes, I went back to work. No one there knew that I was pregnant.), I realized I needed to let the doctor help, both for my physical and mental health. I called my doctor’s office and off we went.

I was terrified. I’ve broken my arm twice, broken my toe, sprained my ankle at least three times, and jammed a finger, but I’d never actually been in the hospital and never had surgery of any kind. I had to sign paperwork, agreeing to the procedure, nothing out of the ordinary. The procedure was listed as “Dilation and Curettage for a missed abortion”. I will never, for as long as I live, forget those words. Abortion stood out to me like a giant flashing light. I was having an abortion. Actually, my body had already performed the abortion all on its own and the hospital procedure was just to make sure that everything went as smoothly as possible and lowered the possibility of infection. But, I had an abortion. So did the 33% of women who have also experienced a miscarriage in one form or another. Abort simply means to stop something.

In Texas, and in Florida if their copycat bill passes, my doctor could now be sued by a private citizen for performing my dilation and curettage. The new anti-abortion law bans abortions, and the dilation and evacuation (including curettage) procedure, after six weeks, but does not criminalize abortion, nor make criminals of those who seek or perform abortion services. It simply deputizes the citizenry, including those outside of Texas, to act as watchdogs and sue abortion providers in civil court. The law makes no provisions for miscarriage, though it does have exemptions for medical emergencies. The Texas law is morally repugnant. But, objectively, it’s a well-crafted law. Since the law does not criminalize abortion and explicitly bans the state government from prosecuting abortion providers, it makes it more difficult to challenge.

Conservative politicians and priests, men and ministers, love to preach about the sanctity of human life, the sanctity of the unborn life. Though if that unborn life grows up to be a woman, her humanity is overlooked.

But, men alone cannot get these laws passed. Conservative women are equally culpable. The women who believe that other women cannot be trusted to make decisions for themselves. The women who say nothing in the face of so much male self-righteousness. The female politicians who vote for laws like these, that eviscerate the line between church and state.

These laws are about control. It’s about the desire for mostly white conservative Christian men and women to control women’s bodies. Abortion is a red herring. The control and the cruelty are the point. They want women to be meek, to subjugate themselves to the superior morality and intelligence of the men. They think they know better.

These same politicians crow about the need to be pro-life and complain about government programs to help families. Without supporting access to affordable, adequate health care and child care, housing that helps keep families safe, food programs that can educate people about healthy eating and provide access to affordable, healthy foods, claims of being pro-life ring hollow.

Anti-abortion laws overwhelmingly affect lower income women, a higher percentage of whom are women of color. Restricting access then forces women into impossible situations and we provide very little support once babies are born into difficult circumstances. These laws are an attempt to control the personal actions of all women, particularly lower income Americans.

The Bible they use as cover for their horrific laws also says the meek shall inherit the Earth. So, we the meek, are coming for you. Hell hath no fury like a woman told her life is nothing more than a host body. We will not sit quietly while politicians diminish the sanctity of our lives under the guise of piousness and morality.

But, we need every single voice to scream from the rooftops. Men who find this attempt to remove women’s bodily autonomy a violation — of the Constitution, of basic human rights — must speak up and speak out. Your silence is your complicity.

Write letters to your political leaders. Write to newspapers. Speak publicly about the issue. Flood their offices with messages of opposition. Donate to groups that are fighting this fight. VOTE. Vote in every election. Donate to, and vote for, candidates who believe that women have a right to bodily autonomy.