This week, I had the best and the worst of the land of the free and home of the brave. New York City, the centre of the universe, offered personal refuge in a liberal, literate La La Land where life is fast and exhausting, but possibility lurks around every corner and living can also be a shiny, spectacular and over the top dream. With lots of long hair.
Then Wednesday came and burst the bubble that I had firmly established in the SoHo and West Village coffee houses. Alabama made abortions illegal.
There are (at least) two ways to look at this: who has access to healthcare and who decides on behalf of women.
I’m a white, European woman of comfortable means. I will never be affected by decisions like these. I am insured up to my eyeballs, and can access healthcare anywhere. Like most Europeans, I will get treatment. If not in my own country, then somewhere else in Europe. Such is the system we have created.
Famously, there is no system in the U.S., except that you buy your way out of sticky situations. Rich people will always get by. What happens when it’s the raped underaged daughter of a minimum-wage single mother whose employer does not cover family members’ health insurance? How do you explain the newly minted law to Alabama girls and women who are impregnated by their abusive family members or relatives??
The political swing to the right in the U.S. has set in motion a movement to overturn the landmark nation-wide ruling on women’s right to abortion, Roe v. Wade (Hello Ruth Bader Ginsburg!). There’s an excellent documentary about this called Reversing Roe v. Wade, and it should be still available on Netflix. It does a superb job in explaining the American sentiment around this issue.
It’s not just the abortion procedure that’s being targeted. As collateral many states have already experienced cuts in services for poor children, medical care for pregnant women and affordable contraception for women as well as attempts to hinder sex education at schools.
The second question is who gets to decide. You are free to worship at whichever altar you wish, I don’t judge/discriminate, but if we leave out the Jesus-factor here, the question is simple: why cannot women decide for their own bodies? Or, more simply:
Why do men get to decide over women’s bodies?
We should not watch the Alabama-spectacle as some soap opera unfolding before our eyes. Anything can happen anywhere. Including in Europe. People can walk backwards in here, too.
That women’s actual, physical bodies are still being used as a political playground in 2019 I cannot comprehend. If men could get pregnant, abortions would be handed out at every gas station and drive-thru across the world. For free.
In case you are already half-way rereading your Handmaid’s Tale, let me suggest another American giant on this matter, again offering a tremendously moving context to the great abortion spectacle in the U.S.: A Book of American Martyrs by Joyce Carol Oates.
Finally, for anyone who says that feminism has gone too far and we should instead focus on the equality of opportunity, I have but two words: Fuck off.
I know it’s not you people, but I just had to put it out there.