Roar will publish a first-person story about abortion, “My Abortion: A Daily Story,” every day for at least 365 days.
Today’s story comes from We Testify, a community of storytellers that offer “personal and nuanced understanding of abortion access, and how it is impacted by the fight for racial and economic justice.
In her open letter to The Donald, Amanda explains to the current administration the risks of banning abortion, and how difficult it is already to have an abortion under the present circumstances.
Dear The Donald,
I want to thank you for your recent comments on how your imaginary administration plans to treat people like me who’ve had abortions. In a few short sentences, you unveiled the anti-choice movement’s grand plan better than I ever could have. As you’ll recall, on Wednesday, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked you what you planned to do to people who sought abortions. Ignoring the Supreme Court’s 40-year old Roe v. Wade decision you disjointedly explained you’d “punish” the one in three of us who will have an abortion. Well, you know, you will go back to a position like they had where people will perhaps go to illegal places but you have to ban it…The answer is that there has to be some form of punishment, yeah.
You further insulted us by stating that men (you know, those people who got us pregnant) wouldn’t face any punishment for their decision to support us through our abortions. It’s so obvious how willfully ignorant you are about your deep seated hatred for women. If you want to take your position further, you could join your Republican colleagues who believe we should have permission slips from men before getting abortions. Republicans tout their records in stopping the government from what they call unnecessary regulations of businesses and American freedoms, and yet, they double down on abortion.
Your campaign released a statement to clarify your comments reciting basic anti-choice talking points, however the bell has already been rung. You’d rather relegate us to “illegal places” for unsafe abortions, than allow us to legally access one of the safest medical procedures ever. Wow.
You’ve always said you’re a straight talker, and your hideous statements to Matthews did not fail on that point. Well, I’m a Texan and I’m a straight talker too. And I want to let you know a few things: this logic you think you’ve created already exists. Your new found ideas about outlawing abortion aren’t even new. Your comments brought to light the realities of what many people seeking abortions already experience. Anti-choice politicians have punished us enough, especially those of us in the South.
I know how difficult it is to get a safe abortion in Texas. When I had an abortion, I was a 19-year old college freshman. I was in an unhealthy relationship. I knew the moment I saw the pregnancy test turn positive, that I was not ready to become a parent.
Though it was an easy decision for me, it was still a difficult and stressful time in my life. I didn’t tell my parents at the time. My partner and I had to borrow money from others, and things in my relationship took a turn for the worse.
Eventually, we were able to come up with the money to pay for my abortion, but having to scrounge for money for basic healthcare is an extremely undignified experience. This is an experience I’m sure you have never known (even with your financial mishaps) but the majority of people having abortions know all too well thanks to the Hyde Amendment; a policy that keeps Medicaid enrollees, military service members, and so many others from using their health insurance to cover their abortion.
When I arrived at my appointment, I was greeted by dozens of angry protesters who shouted at me and called me horrific names — some weekends there can be hundreds of them. Sadly, I can’t throw them out, like you notoriously do. In fact, this gauntlet of shame exists all across the country. In 2014, the Supreme Court legitimized this harassment by total strangers who do nothing but judge and shame, believing they know my situation better than I do. Mind you, this harassment doesn’t happen during any other healthcare procedures, only abortion.
Thankfully, not everyone is like you and your friends. I was overwhelmed by the kind support I received from clinic escorts, the clinic staff, and my provider, who all made feel comfortable and safe. After my abortion, I felt immediate relief. It felt like I could finally breathe again.
Those of us who are able to access abortion care at all are extremely fortunate. I was lucky. I had my abortion before my government passed HB 2, a horrendous law that shut down most of the abortion clinics in Texas. This law forces patients to drive hundreds of miles past anti-abortion billboards, to endure waiting periods, and to listen to government propaganda rather than evidence-based information about our bodies. I spent days with activists from across the state to stop the law and anti-choice bullying. While we lost that battle, we are at the Supreme Court for an even bigger fight to ensure you cannot continue to regulate abortion out of existence.
Here in Texas, our politicians are painting abortion providers as villains, rather than the compassionate people I know them to be. Everything’s bigger in Texas, including the abortion stigma.Your fellow Republican and my Senator Ted Cruz (who is rumored to be the Zodiac Killer, and isn’t sure whether or not he should run you over with his car) was proud to receive the endorsement of a man who has called for the “execution” of abortion providers. Rhetoric like this has led to unfettered violence, shootings, arsons, and harassment. And their deaths.
As abortions become harder to get and more out of reach, the people who are affected most are the ones seeking abortions. Just ask Ohio Governor John Kasich, who perfectly described his plan to outlaw abortion when crying foul on your comments. Governor Kasich believes your crass ideas aren’t “an appropriate response,” rather one should “build some restrictions around [abortion], but we’re a long way from there.” He’s running a flailing campaign claiming he’s a moderate, all while he’s been passing horrendous anti-abortion laws, unconstitutionally shutting down abortion clinics, and defunding Planned Parenthood. He’s been busy in a way you never could.
Social stigma and logistical barriers aren’t the only challenges to abortion access. Conservatives are actually throwing people in jail for self inducing their own abortions (or simply being accused of it) because they can’t get to a clinic. Anti-abortion groups may decry your statements saying they never intend for people seeking abortions to be punished, but that’s what happens when you make things illegal; people, disproportionately people of color and those living in poverty, are arrested for doing them. It’s already happening and they’re doing nothing about it.
So called “pro-life” activists said nothing when Purvi Patel was sentenced to 20 years in prison. They said nothing when Bei Bei Shuai was on trial. They acted surprised when Anna Yocca was charged after attempting an abortion with a coat hanger. Where were those anti-choice activists when Kenlissia Jones was arrested after taking abortion pills, or Jennifer Whalen was thrown in jail for purchasing them for her daughter? You see, Mr. Drumpf, we’re already being punished more than you could ever know.
You’re a caricature of your party, but one so accurately drawn that you are revealing the sentiments behind the conservative policies that are already tearing apart so many of our communities. You are already so blatantly hateful towards women that you’re able to more candidly reveal the very real motivation behind abortion restrictions. You’ve made “pro-life” candidates squirm. They don’t want to be seen as cruel. But making abortion a stigmatized or criminal offense is cruel, and so are you. There is no moral high ground for you to pretend to stand on.
We’re sharing our stories with the highest court in the land, in state legislatures, and all over the Internet. We won’t be silenced. We won’t be stopped. And we certainly #wontbepunished.