On June 24th 2022 The Supreme Court overruled the landmark 1973 case Roe v Wade. This truly breathtaking decision has left many women, including myself, reeling from the news. To quote my colleague, I am both shocked and completely unsurprised this has happened.
I wanted to take the time to comment on this from the only lens I have; my own. Rather than focus on the facts (this Guardian article does it better than I could) I wanted to focus on my own experience of abortion and how this decision in America will affect women in the UK. As someone who runs a purpose-driven business, I have a duty to speak out about the things that affect our planet and the people who inhabit it. This may sound lofty, but it’s the truth. Difficult conversations have to be had for progress to be made. And for me to be sitting here writing about a decision that was reached 50 years ago is blood boiling.
My experience with abortion
When I was 21, I needed an abortion. I became unexpectedly pregnant, was in the middle of studying and had no intention of giving up on my aspirations to support a child. To this day, I am still resolutely child-free. It is by design. I chose, and continue to choose, to not have children. I was able to make that decision when I was in my twenties and I would make the same decision now. The idea that a group of men I have never met could change the way my life looks feels far too Attwoodian to me.
As many wise women have said before me, making abortion illegal doesn’t stop them from happening. It makes them dangerous. Since the beginning of time women have been carrying out abortions and they will continue to do so. All this decision has managed to achieve is to add yet another layer of stress, anger and hurt to an already difficult situation. Abortions are needed for a myriad of reasons and all too often the dialogue surrounding them lands on trauma. Not wanting a child should be reason enough. I am exhausted having to explain this. Abortion is a medical procedure. It is only when the church or state gets involved that it becomes anything but.
So why does this effect women in the UK? If the richest country in the world can make this decision then it is highly likely our own government will have had similar thoughts – and even conversations. When reproductive experts in America said “they’re coming for Roe v Wade next” people called them hysterical. Doesn’t that sound familiar? To downplay a woman’s concern surrounding her autonomy and body?
For the last three days this decision has sat uneasily with me. It has felt like a sob clinging to the back of my throat. It has forced me, and many other women, to think back to a decision that is often difficult (and sometimes I would like to stress, not at all difficult). Our feeds have been filled with stories of women’s trauma, the very immediate decisions they will have to make and how their future plans have altered drastically. 40 million women are affected by this decision. 40 million. Their fates decided by people who will never have to live through their experiences.
So, what do we do?
I always tend to be an action-driven person. Whilst it is important to mourn, get mad, yell into the void and create voodoo dolls of the men who made these decisions, it is also important to take positive steps. When faced with such an enormous outcome as this, it’s important to focus on small things you can do to feel like you’ve got some control.
Let’s take the power back, together.
Here’s what I’m going to do:
- Invite women to speak about it in a way that’s helpful to them. Want to yell? I am your sounding board. Want to sit quietly and fume? I can bring tea. If you are in my network and beyond, reach out to me so we can talk it out: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Donate to Planned Parenthood. The bastions of common sense in difficult conversations such as these – the money will go to help those people affected by this outcome.
- Create an environment in my own business where it is normal to talk about abortions. Business leaders can encourage better understanding and more positive action. This is what being purpose-driven truly means.
I know you’re tired. I know it’s exhausting to keep explaining the glaringly obvious about something that shouldn’t even be a conversation anymore. But by taking these small steps, we can do something.
For now, I’ll end with some iconic nonsensical Latin from Margaret Attwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, the ultimate cautionary tale of what happens when you take away women’s autonomy. “Nolite te bastardes carborundorum”, loosely meaning “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.”
This decision may feel like a massive defeat, but together, we can achieve small victories.