When I write the word “abortion,” the first thing I experience is fear. In fact, during one of my classes I had participated in a discussion about abortions, and afterwards, I had taken a video of my hand shaking as if I were in below-zero degree temperatures. Even though I’m almost sure that a decent portion of the class agreed with my stance, I still felt an apprehension to contribute to a public discussion of abortion in a “safe space.” I am also relatively certain that some of my companions were feeling the exact same way. Abortion is not a dirty word, and it needs to be acknowledged to protect people with uteri everywhere.
The sheer amount of emotion the word “abortion” evokes just makes it so shocking that it hasn’t yet been labeled as the dirtiest curse. As a person raised Catholic and enrolled in a Jesuit institution, speaking about abortion feels like something I could be exiled for, and in some respects, it is. The Catholic Church specifically teaches that abortion is the ending of a human life and should be treated with dignity.
It would be unfair to blame the suffering of those who possess uteri just on the Catholic Church, or any other religious following (including Hinduism) with a clear stance against abortion. There are plenty of other factors that can contribute to one’s stance for or against abortion, and one of those, of course, is political opinion.
Since our lives apparently revolve around politics now, marginalized groups especially have experienced increasing amounts of disappointment in America. For every win, there seems to be three losses. With the past presidency, those losses seemed to quadruple. Finding a common ground has also become increasingly difficult with the amount of discriminatory legislation that has been filed, and even that statement is controversial.
To keep the politics as short as possible, the anti-abortion policies passed during the past four years, specifically the Helms Amendment, was a blow to women and people with uteri everywhere. Not only did it affect Americans, but other countries with a reliance on American funding for their healthcare programs were forced to bear the consequences of America’s political decisions. Should we be letting American politics, a driving force of our country’s division today, affect other countries in a substantial way? Even countries that do not ascribe to our cultural practices? Is it simply a lazy way to continue to dominate the world and subject them to our suffering?
Whatever the case, President Biden and his administration have decided to disregard the amendment altogether in favor of “restoration funding to the United Nations Population Fund,” which previously aided foreign countries in providing safe access to abortions. The new administration also plans to fund institutions that provided abortions in the United States.
The abortion debate is, in simple terms, a touchy one. Personally, I have been insulted quite often in conversations when abortion is even slightly referenced. That, along with a handful of other slightly traumatizing experiences, led me to disconnect myself from the Catholic Church as well. Though I have not had an abortion or gone through any experience remotely close to it, I have friends, teachers and colleagues who have. Those people have lost more than just that zygote. That is not my story to tell, but it is important to acknowledge the emotional, and even physical, struggles they still grapple with every single day. Chances are, you will come across someone who has had an abortion, and I’ll bet that they are still processing that trauma every single day.
The “abortion debate” is nothing more than something to further suppress people with uteri. Time and time again, American leaders have shown a blatant disregard for marginalized groups, especially those of color, no matter what the constitution dictates, and anti-abortion laws have affected their communities the most. This has not stopped anyone from getting an abortion, though. The Helm Amendment specifically increased rates of unsafe abortions. This also meant an increased death rate for people with uteri performing unsafe abortions. The deaths of already living human beings with conscious memories and contributions to others should be seen as a bigger loss than that of someone with the potential to be human.
The passivity with which we allow society to vilify and berate people with uteri should be unacceptable. However, every day we continue to see countless people being called murderers outside Planned Parenthood locations, harassed online for arguing in comment sections and even disconnecting from their churches, or at least their mandated teachings (even though Saint Brigid was known for performing the first abortion in Ireland. Many other venerated religious figures did the same).
The fight is not for the right to kill babies. It is for survivors of sexual assault in any form including those who are endangered by pregnancy. It is for those who cannot financially support a child or those who are simply not ready to be parents. The fight is for teens who have made mistakes and who deserve to live their lives according to their own plans.
The reality of the issue is far more than “murdering a child.” It is about what and who we are valuing as a society and the consequences of those values. An 11-year-old survivor of sexual violence should not be subjected to going through labor. A teenager with no money, only dreams to follow her passions and live her life according to her plan should not be coerced into raising a child she cannot support, financially or emotionally. A child born of parents who could not support them should not grow up in a country in which only 2 percent of the people adopt, and only one third consider it. Abortion is not always a bad thing, and it is our duty to protect people with uteri before putting both them and the potential child through unimaginable pain.