I am medium-brown-skinned — neither rich dark chocolate nor creamy cafe au lait. I am a B cup and have, for a black girl, a barely there butt. I have flat feet and oily skin. And like so many American women of reproductive age, I’ve had an abortion.
I, and I alone, made the decision to terminate a pregnancy more than a decade ago so that I could be the best mother I could be to the two children I already had.
The Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision, guaranteeing a woman’s freedom to obtain an abortion without undue government restriction, was issued 47 years ago Wednesday. A 47th anniversary may not seem like a huge milestone. But it is critical at this moment in history. It is a call for deliberate action to safeguard the most basic and ordinary right of all: to control your own body.
Despite what some politicians would have us believe, most Americans support that right. There is no state in the country where the majority favors an outright ban on abortion. Seven in 10 Americans, across party lines, say they do not want to see Roe v. Wade overturned. Nearly a half-century after Roe, we must not allow some warped, anti-feminist ideology to take away our freedom.
That means we all have to speak up. Shouting is O.K., if that’s your thing. What’s most important is that we stand together and stand up against the beat-down on sexual and reproductive health in this country.
Just last week, the Supreme Court agreed to consider whether employers can limit women’s access to free birth control under the Affordable Care Act because of moral or religious objections. Last summer the Trump administration forced Planned Parenthood and other providers out of Title X, the federal program that ensures people struggling to get by can afford birth control, cancer screenings, and testing for H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted infections.
In the past year alone, legislators in 47 states filed more than 300 bills to restrict abortion access. This administration, at a lightning pace, has appointed more than 180 judges, many with records showing them blatantly hostile to reproductive rights, to lifetime posts on the federal courts. And in the coming months, the Supreme Court will review an abortion case from Louisiana that could further erode the protections of Roe — or worse, overturn it.
If our constitutional right to safe, legal abortion is not upheld, more than 25 million Americans of reproductive age could lose the freedom to decide when and if to have a child. What I took for granted — the freedom to have agency over my body and life choices — is a right my daughters and their daughters may well be denied.
Roe has never been perfect. The right to safe, legal abortion didn’t mean equal access to it. In communities where people have low incomes and in many areas where black and brown people live, the cost of abortion often makes it out of reach.
So this anniversary should be about protecting and expanding the health and freedom of all people — regardless of their race, income, gender identity, sexual orientation, abilities or immigration status.
In a new short documentary film, “Ours to Tell,” which will be shown at the Sundance Film Festival next week, we see how access to abortion should play out. The movie depicts four people: myself, another black woman, a nonbinary trans person and a Latina. It celebrates the full and empowered lives each of us is now able to live because we had agency.
This is not complicated or political. When you have bodily autonomy and the freedom to get the health care you want, need and deserve, your whole world changes and you are able to thrive.
Nearly 15 years after my abortion, I am at peace. I now have three children, ages 12 to 20. The most important gift I can give them is the best me I can be. My daughters and my son know I had an abortion just as they know I have a mole on one side of my face, and dimples.
My abortion is a part of me, my story. And I have no shame that I made the best decision for myself, my family and our future.
Whether they yell it from the rooftops or not, many other people have experiences like mine. Research shows the most common post-abortion feeling is relief. Ninety-five percent of us do not regret our decision.
This anniversary of Roe v. Wade isn’t golden or even silver, but it should spur us to redouble our efforts to make access to sexual and reproductive health care a reality for everyone.
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