I am sweating. I am alone, sitting with a phone pressed to my ear, waiting. My heart is beating, I am trying to breathe but feel nauseous. I am dreading what might happen next. It could change everything. I am 18.
Maybe you too have sat in a waiting room, on a phone line, in a bathroom, hoping that your fears will not be realized, that you are not, in fact, pregnant. That you will breathe a sigh of relief and walk forward from this moment, with a new lease on life as you knew it. That you will not have to face what feels like a betrayal brewing in your own body. That you will not confront the judgement of others as you try to explain how it has come to this. That you will not have to make a difficult and potentially life-altering decision.
But it is this last that also offers the only comfort that I feel – that no matter what, I will have the ability to make a decision about my body and my life.
Today I am sweating again. But this time it is for the millions of others who will face this moment but without any options, the US Supreme Court having repealed their federal right to abortion on June 24th. Many will be forced to continue their pregnancy no matter the circumstances, no matter that they do not want or feel ready to have a child at this time. I feel their fear, desperation, anguish, knowing that while some will find access to abortions elsewhere, many who are young, poor, Black, brown, and trans will not. They will have to suffer the consequences of a punitive and heartless politics that cares nothing for their lives.
And that is the point, isn’t it?
It’s about power. And the ability to subject someone else to your will.
Efforts to repeal reproductive rights are, at their heart, efforts to control women, and to punish any exercise of their autonomy, especially their sexual autonomy.
I have always bristled at the meek framing of “pro-choice” as a way of describing our stance on reproductive issues. The word choice suggests something rational, transient, perhaps even whimsical. When what we know is that our very equality and self-determination is at stake. Our ability to decide about our bodies is inseparable from our freedom.
On the other hand, the hypocrisy of the “pro-life” movement, despite having claimed such high ground in its name, is evident in its indifference to the needs of families and children once they are born. Even more revealingly, some factions seek to criminalize those who have or provide abortions, even including with the death penalty. The true agenda is less about protecting life, and more about the re-subordination of women within the patriarchal, heteronormative family.
We should not be surprised by this resurgent wave of misogyny and its twins, white supremacy and homophobia. Liberation movements have made inroads and gains which threaten the dominance of white, straight, cis-gendered men. This backlash is the rageful howl of the old order desperately trying to hang on. It is fearsome and ugly.
But as my sister said the morning Roe was overturned, I am un-resigned. While I no longer have faith that the arc of history will always bend toward justice, I do believe in the feminist and liberatory movements around the globe which have gotten us this far. We are un-resigned. We have only begun to taste freedom and it is far too precious to go back.