It was just last week when actress Busy Philipps launched the conversation #YouKnowMe on social media based on the statistic that 1 in 4 women have had an abortion.
While not all abortions harbor feelings of shame and reduction, there is power in visibility and the willingness to be seen, as well as heard.
So I asked four Black women whom I know personally, if they would share their abortion stories here. And bravely, they did. One reached back to relive the abortion she had in the early 1970’s before the landmark Roe v. Wade case, which affirmed that access to a safe abortion was a constitutional right. Another terminated her pregnancy in order to circumvent death. One shared her experience of having a second-trimester abortion at 15, while another was forced to make the decision right at the cusp of early adulthood.
And even as all the stories of the four above mentioned women cross and intersect, I still have not included the voices of every person who has chosen to terminate a pregnancy: members of the LGBTQ community. I call on all of us (including myself) to be more accountable and remember to practice true inclusivity in this conversation.
In total 8 states have passed restrictive abortion legislation since the beginning of 2019. In Alabama, where the most restrictions are currently held, women are banned from receiving abortions, even in cases of incest or rape. Other states such as Georgia and have inflicted a heartbeat rule, which states that abortions cannot be administered if a fetal heartbeat can be detected, which occurs around six weeks. At this stage, many don’t even know they’re pregnant.
While these laws have been proven to have no medical basis and also do not take into account the myriad of health complications that pregnancy warrants including ectopic pregnancies and miscarriages, it is clear that this legislation is an attack on reproductive rights, especially the reproductive rights of Black women; a group who has withstood centuries of state-sanctioned violence over their bodies in America. In fact, these attempts to ban abortion will do the exact opposite and will undoubtedly open the door for harmful and possibly deadly procedures. Safe access to abortion is healthcare.
As social media and news topics continue to pull us into spaces where we feel forced to talk about deeply private decisions, I hope we continue to amplify the Black voices oftentimes left out of these important conversations surrounding reproductive rights in America.
More than anything, I hope that this sparks the deeply needed conversation within the Black community to reverse any shame and to reaffirm the right to maintain autonomy over our bodies.
*Some names have been changed to protect the privacy of the individuals.
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