I won’t ever get pregnant.
And that simple fact has often led me to question just how loud I should be in my support of the right to choose. While I have never shied from expressing my conviction that abortion rights must be protected, I’ve also failed to make it a priority in my writing and advocacy, thinking perhaps that my best role as an ally was to give space to those who might decide to terminate a pregnancy the chance to tell their stories.
In the face of a massive way of restrictions on reproductive freedom across the country, though, it’s important for those of us who will not become pregnant to lift our voices and offer our support to those who are facing a real and growing threat to their right to control their bodies. As legislatures across the country pass laws like the almost-total ban on abortions in Alabama, acts that would criminalize the act of seeking an abortion out of state in Georgia, and similar restrictions in states from South Carolina to Texas, it’s no longer enough to be a silent ally who perhaps only votes for pro-choice candidates.
It’s time to loudly speak for reproductive freedom, not on behalf of others or because we love the “daughters, sisters and mothers” in our lives, but because the right to choose is a right as fundamental as the right to speech. It’s a right inextricably linked to physical and emotional autonomy, not to mention the economic independence of millions in our country. It’s a right that must be protected to prevent further horrific abuses of young girls sexually assaulted and impregnated by their attackers and a right that must be protected to keep people from harming themselves in deadly, dangerous efforts to end their pregnancies without medical procedures.
It’s clear what has happened here: despite vague, unconvincing promises that he would protect judicial precedent, conservatives across the country are hopeful that Brett Kavanaugh will give the Supreme Court the votes the conservative justices need to severely restrict access to abortion rights. Maybe the extremism of the Alabama law—which does not grant exceptions for rape or incest—will not be upheld by the Supreme Court, but that doesn’t mean Kavanaugh and the rest won’t use the absurdity of the Alabama law to permit restrictions that effectively will end abortion access in Alabama and other states.
While the battle plays out in the courts, what can we—especially those of us who perhaps have not been forceful enough in our support of reproductive freedom—do? The first step is simple: we can lend our voices to the fight and remind those in office that the majority of Americans support abortion rights. Next, we can donate to local organizations that fight for and provide reproductive health services. My next donation will be to Planned Parenthood here in Montana. The New York Times suggests that those who “support abortion access can look into becoming a clinic escort — someone who walks women into a clinic, helping shield them from the anti-abortion protesters who often shout epithets at or try to mislead or confuse patients.” Find out if that’s a need in your community and offer your support.
Those of us who can’t—or won’t—get pregnant should still prioritize listening to the perspectives of those who can and those who have lived through the abortion wars in this country, but prioritizing listening can’t be an excuse for failing to speak or act.
Fundamental rights are at stake. Human lives are at stake. Equal protection under the law is at stake. It’s time for all us—the majority who support the right to choose—to make it absolutely clear where and with whom we stand.