A twelve-year-old girl pregnant from rape by her mother’s boyfriend. A fifteen-year-old high school student who would be forced by her parents to carry her unintended pregnancy to term. Desperate and terrified girls living in a state with less than twenty abortion clinics.
These are the beginnings of their stories. These are the stories we do not often hear or read when we think about those who seek abortions. These are the people who most need access to their reproductive options, and the ones most devastated by Texas law.
Abortion as a word on its own elicits many emotions. It can silence us or enrage us or evoke compassion from us. It can frighten us. But to many of us, this word, this action, is a right that we have. It is an act to take charge of ourselves and our bodies. And the individual stories take this word from an abstract thing and give it a name, a face, an age, a circumstance.
Projects like the 1 in 3 Campaign and the Draw the Line Campaign reveal just how important personal narrative is to abortion rights. Our stories can change how abortion is viewed, our voices can open minds and hearts, we can use our experiences to shape our world. Our words are powerful.
On March 2nd the Supreme Court discussed the legality of the Texas law that requires abortion clinics to meet ambulatory center standards and require abortion doctors to have admitting privileges to nearby hospitals.
And we gathered. Women like me, people who have had abortions or know someone who has had one. People who support a person’s right to choose. And we shared our stories. The stories of our grandmothers before us who sought out back-alley abortionists or who used coat hangers. Stories of our sisters who ordered abortion pills online because they could not afford to go to a clinic, or the clinics were too far away. Stories of our friends who dealt with the waiting periods and ultrasounds and came home after their abortions with no hint of regret.
If the Supreme Court upholds this law, Texas will be left with around ten abortion clinics. The state has already seen a decline from around forty to just eighteen since the law’s passing. If the law is deemed unconstitutional because it causes an undue burden on those seeking abortion, similar restrictive laws elsewhere can be challenged.
While the court deliberates, we will continue to speak out. We will tell our stories or write them. We will listen to the experiences of others. We will show that these laws hinder us, hurt us, kill us. This is about more than a single story. It is about the lives and choices of one in three people in this country. One in three who will have an abortion. One in three whose stories can shape a nation. One in three whose voices need to be heard.