In my early twenties, I found myself pregnant. It was 1965, and I was 23 and new to sex. There was no sex ed in my school, so I was never taught how easy it could be to get pregnant. This was back when having a baby out of wedlock was shameful, and women who did so were hidden away until delivery, and their babies were labeled “bastards” the rest of their lives. Babies were often surrendered for adoption, since there was very little support for single mothers. I was terrified.
My only alternative was abortion, and it was illegal. If you managed to find someone to do the procedure, they were not usually a medical professional. The procedure was not done in a sterile – or frequently even clean – environment. While I was fortunate enough to have the procedure done in my apartment, the person who performed the abortion was so worried he would be caught that he made me wear a blindfold the entire time, so I never knew what his face looked like.
Even though the procedure was relatively safe, and not done by a coat hanger as was common in those days, I could not stop bleeding afterward. I bled for days in my apartment, terrified to seek medical help for fear I would get arrested. I didn’t realize at the time how serious my condition had become, but I later realized that another day of bleeding, and I might have died. Eventually the bleeding stopped, and I recovered, by some sort of miracle.
This is what it was like before Roe v. Wade. These are the choices women had to make, if you can even call what I faced any kind of choice. And this week, Republicans in the House of Representatives threaten to take us back to these dark, terrifying days. They’re holding a hearing on a bill they introduced that would ban abortion at six weeks, before many women even know they are pregnant. Make no mistake: this bill would effectively ban abortions.
Beyond putting women in harm’s way, these abortion bans attack our independence by gradually taking away our ability to make decisions about our own lives, bodies, and futures.
This abortion ban is wholly unconstitutional, and while Republicans are obsessed with rolling back our reproductive rights, no abortion ban this extreme has ever been introduced, heard, or voted on in Congress until now. In 1973, the Supreme Court made very clear in Roe v. Wade that bans before viability violate a woman’s right to privacy, and they established a constitutional right to abortion as a result.
As a woman with a personal experience I wouldn’t wish on anyone, I feel that it is beyond shameful that the GOP-led Congress is spending its time on an abortion ban that I know will put women in danger.
Beyond putting women in harm’s way, these abortion bans attack our independence by gradually taking away our ability to make decisions about our own lives, bodies, and futures. I have seen the dangerous conditions abortion bans create for women. I cannot believe Republicans are using women’s ability to create new life as a tool to oppress us, and return us to the restrictions of the first part of the 20th century. Their anti-choice ideology has no place in my body, nor in any laws.
When you seek to put oppressive restrictions on women’s reproductive choices, you are in effect seizing control of their bodies. And after what I’ve been through, I can adamantly say that no out-of-touch politician has a right to control my body or make decisions for me.
As long as anti-choice politicians continue their shameless attacks on our basic human rights, I’ll continue working with organizations like NARAL to protect reproductive freedom. According to a NARAL national survey, about 7 in 10 Americans believe abortion should remain legal and the government should not interfere with a woman’s decision. This majority stands on the side of abortion access and reproductive freedom for all.
Women will not go back to 1965. No out-of-touch politician will prevent us from controlling our own bodies and our destinies. Whether openly or in secret, we will always seek access to comprehensive reproductive health care. For many women, this abortion ban would be a death sentence, returning us to the days of unsafe and illegal abortions – I know, because I’ve had one.