By Sarah Hamill, CEO
My mother is a woman of seemingly unshakable faith. She and my dad raised four girls as gracefully as anyone could, with admittedly idealistic expectations about sex- when we would have it (after marriage) and with whom (our husbands).
Our ideas about abortion were seldom questioned under the shelter of our upbringing and privileged access to preventative measures.
In October of 2019, I visited my college town just a few months after I had graduated. Me and my friends walked to our favorite bar, its familiarity making us feel safe as we affectionately un-stuck our sleeves from counters coated with a layer of questionable fluids.
I remember little from that night. I had been roofied and kept only pieces of what came after- being sexually assaulted and coming to alone on a sidewalk, somehow lost just a few blocks away from the place I used to call home.
I remember feeling a visceral panic the next morning. I considered the possibility that I might be pregnant with the child of a boy who drugged, assaulted, and left me to wake up on the side of the street, unable to feel or move the lower half of my body.
For about a minute, I had forgotten that I was on birth control- thanks to my dad’s insurance, I had the Nexplanon implant. But I knew that if that weren’t the case, I would have gotten an abortion.
Before, I had considered it to be a right for those who didn’t have my upbringing. I’d grown up hearing stories about survivors who chose not to get an abortion after being raped. They say it gives them a reason to live and are celebrated for their strength and selflessness. I am happy for them, truly.
But in the months after that night in October, I knew that I deserved to be selfish. My life depended on it. I would not ask myself to be stronger or subjected to more trauma than I had already endured. My choice to live for myself took strength enough.
The recent Supreme Court decision overturned the right to an abortion that was previously protected under the constitutional right to privacy (as are the rights to same-sex marriage, interracial marriage, and contraceptive access). That decision strips those who live in restrictive states (especially, and more immediately, those with trigger laws) of that choice.
Texas is one state with a trigger law that criminalizes physicians who perform abortions after fertilization takes place (so effectively, all abortions). This law only makes exceptions for life-saving procedures, and not rape or incest.
Some states have trigger laws in place that would punish women who have abortions, and the physician that performs the procedure, more severely than the rapist.
When asked how he would protect survivors following previous anti-choice legislation, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he is committed to using the legal system to eliminate rapists. The drugs I had been given prevented me from pursuing prosecution for my assault. How could I know who to look for?
Very likely, he was a wealthy white student, raised by a Christian mother like mine, who historically speaking would not be “taken off the streets” as Abbott so naively claims.
This reversal of Roe v Wade is offensive not just to survivors of rape, but all people with uteruses who have been faced with the impossible decision to terminate a pregnancy they are not able or willing to carry. And it has the potential to set precedence for the reversal of protections for same sex marriage, the right to contraception, and more.
If you are in the position of having to rush to receive an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy (for any reason) following the Supreme Court’s decision, there are resources available to you. Trigger bans do not go into effect for 30 days after the 24th, so if you have an upcoming appointment, call your provider to confirm that they are still able to give you the care you need.
Regardless of whether you are currently sexually active or not, now is a good time to speak to your gynecologist, or a reproductive health access advocate, about long acting reversible contraceptive (LARC) options, like the IUD or the arm implant. These contraceptives are highly effective, some up to 7 years after they are placed.
The shelf life of levonorgestrel (Plan B) is around 3 years. You can purchase it here ($40), here ($50), or here ($38 or free upon request), to keep on hand as a back-up contraceptive if your primary method fails. You can do the same for the abortion pill (Plan C) here.
Finally, know that this is a day that reproductive justice advocates have been preparing for. It is heartbreaking, but not surprising, and there are frameworks in place to continue care for the time being. This decision is life-altering for people with uteruses nationwide, and it is valid to be scared, in mourning, or angry.
Here are organizations you can donate to if you have the means:
Stix: Emergency contraception fund
Texas Equal Access Fund: Trigger ban goes into effect 30 days after the 24th
Planned Parenthood Action Fund: Donations being matched up to $250,000 through June 30
NARAL Pro Choice for America: Abortion rights & advocacy
Center for Reproductive Rights: Abortion rights law & advocacy