Pandora’s Box: Overturning Roe is only the beginning of the threats to women
Sexual violence survivor details some of the horrors that await if the Supreme Court ends abortion rights
When I was raped in 2016, one of my attackers reached inside me and pulled out my NuvaRring, an internal birth control device, and asked me what it was.
When I told him, he cast it aside where it was lost until police retrieved it a couple days later.
Following my attack, because of the abrupt removal of my birth control, I was at an increased risk of pregnancy. I was given the morning after pill, something anti-abortion legislators and activists have long sought to outlaw, and thankfully avoided pregnancy. Had I become pregnant, I would absolutely have chosen to have an abortion.
Would that unborn life have deserved to be punished for rape? No. But I didn’t deserve to be punished either. I didn’t deserve to be forced to carry and birth and raise my rapist’s baby.
Thanks to Roe, I wouldn’t have had to.
Now, six years later, I watch as the conservative majority on the Supreme Court threatens to take away a woman’s right to her own body.
So many fail to see the far reaching impact overturning Roe will have on even those who have never themselves been in a position where they have sought an abortion. Here in Missouri we have a trigger law that will make terminating a pregnancy at any stage illegal except in the case of medical emergencies.
No exceptions for rape. No exceptions for incest.
The young girls who end up pregnant due to abuse by family members in this state will be forced to carry their babies to term or flee the state seeking a doctor who can perform an abortion.
For women who struggle with polycystic ovary syndrome or premenstrual dysphoric disorder, or those with conditions for whom pregnancy would be a death sentence, may no longer have access to many of the birth control methods that provide life-changing relief.
For those women who seek to become mothers, overturning Roe introduces new barriers.
With doctors at increased risk of prosecution over extra embryos that cannot safely be transferred into an awaiting uterus, in vitro fertilization treatments would likely become slower, less successful and more cost prohibitive.
Women across the country who have the devastating experience of pregnancy loss will also face the added burden of proving that the miscarriage was not their own doing. As if these mothers don’t already blame themselves. Across the country women have already been investigated and charged for risky behavior during pregnancy, and miscarriage.
Women with planned but tragically non-viable pregnancies will be forced to carry and deliver dead children, instead of being allowed to mercifully end their unborn child’s suffering.
And women will die.
For decades now, when women become pregnant unintentionally, they have sought out termination without the headache of consulting the other party. There are so many men who have no idea how close they were to 18 plus years of child support, had the woman they were involved with not called up a friend and “handled” the situation without him. Goodbye hook-up culture.
Legislators in Missouri have even discussed prosecuting women traveling out of state for an abortion. Imagine living in a country where traveling for a medical procedure is deemed a criminal offense. Because that’s where we could be headed.
For years, we’ve seen conservatives chip away at abortion rights. We were called crazy for our panic when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died. We were called crazy when we decried Democrats refusal to make abortion a litmus test.
Let me assure you, I am well aware of the precious gift that motherhood is.
When I was younger, my dad would tell me that my views on abortion would changed when I became a parent. But if anything, becoming a mother solidified my belief in the necessity of choice.
My daughter was not planned. I was not in a relationship with her father when she was conceived. I remember telling him I was pregnant and asking him what we should do — unable to bear the weight of this decision myself.
And as I waited for his response, I realized I was hoping for a specific answer. That was when I knew I was keeping her. Before he responded, I had made my decision. I decided that I loved this child inside me and I was going to keep her and raise her and be her mother. She may not have been planned, but she was still a choice that I got to make out of love.
It was also a choice that I was truly blessed to be able to make because I had access to paid maternity leave and a decent income, and had access to an affordable childcare option. In the United States, maternity leave isn’t guaranteed. Most single mothers live below the poverty level, and the cost of childcare is akin to extortion.
To say nothing of the constant chipping away of welfare programs that allow low-income households to provide for children, and the nationwide formula shortage. For a country so eager to force women into motherhood, it sure seems eager to ensure that they struggle every step of the way.
My goodness, if you look on social media you’d be convinced that most mothers in this country can’t do anything right, anyway.
According to Matt Gaetz, we are over-educated and lonely cat women who eat microwave dinners. According to elected officials in Texas, parents who provide their transgender child with gender-affirming care are abusive. I seem to recall, after enrolling my daughter in a vaccine trial last year, quite a few people telling me I should be shot or have my child taken away from me. Why would you force me to bear a child if you can’t even trust me to make medical decisions on my living child’s behalf?
As a well-connected white woman of middle class means, I am well aware that when Roe is overturned my access to abortion won’t be nearly as restricted as my Black and Brown sisters, trans women and those in lower income households. They are the ones whose miscarriages are about to be investigated and prosecuted. They are the ones whose desperate self-induced abortions will land them in jail or the morgue. They are the ones who are going to find it harder to escape abusive relationships. They are the families who are going to be pushed deeper into poverty.
Women like me, along with the daughters and mistresses of Missouri politicians, will continue to have access to abortions through our networks. The only difference being that now we, along with anybody who assists us, will risking prosecution for murder.
The bottom line is, this was my body before it was ever home to my child. I have a right to stand my ground within it. I have a right to dictate who lives in my body and who is sustained by my body. I have a right to revoke that welcome at any point in time because this body remains mine.
I have a right to say that a baby cannot use or access my body the same way I have the right to say that a man cannot use or access my body. I’m not ready to give up that right.
I’m done marching. I will not don a red robe in protest. I’m ready to demand that candidates for office be vocally and unapologetically pro-choice before I give them a dime or a vote. I’m ready to fight.
You will have to pry my autonomy from my cold dead hands. Period. Exclamation point. Middle finger.
Taylor Hirth is a freelance writer, public speaker, dedicated advocate for survivors of sexual violence, and regular contributor to the Missouri Independent, which first published this essay.
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