Let’s Talk About Abortion

Updated: Nov 14

At the age of seventeen, I moved to Brazil for a year. As an Italian citizen, I had given for granted a lot of my rights, but one in particular had eventually ended up indirectly affecting me: abortion rights. Me and my friends were all sexually active; some of us had gotten on birth control, others had taken Plan B more than once. As a matter of fact, in Brazil abortion is only legal in case of rape, risks to the life of the mother, or when the fetus has anencephaly (missing part of the brain or skull); in these cases, the woman needs approval from a doctor and at least three other clinical experts to undergo the procedure. So it became an unasked question, when one of my closest friends at the time noticed her period was late: what are you going to do? We found a website that helped, one that stated that, in fact, going to the grocery store is legal everywhere. The remedies we would try were available to us right down the street, and during a very tense week my friend planned to try different methods. We would have needed to induce a miscarriage before we would consider getting an illegal procedure done, something that causes high rates of women’s mortality when seeking an abortion.

Fortunately, my friend did not have to get through that.

Yet we learnt that the most secure way was to obtain misoprostol from a pharmacy, as it is used to treat stomach ulcers in people with arthritis. However it would raise a few eyebrows when two seventeen-year-olds would want to buy it. We would have needed to include an older person, possibly a man, and have them buy the medicine for us in order not to raise suspicion. We also learnt that the safest way to take it was through the mouth, letting them dissolve instead of swallowing them, so that a doctor wouldn’t be able to find any trace (opposed to if the pills were inserted in the vagina) and would be unable to tell whether the miscarriage was natural or not.

While Brazil remains strict in its laws, the situation in some countries has improved in the last years, with Mexico, Argentina, Columbia, New Zealand decriminalizing abortion, and Ireland legalizing it up to 12 weeks of gestation.

But it seems like now more and more people would go through moments of panic like Brazilian women, as different countries revoke the right to abortion. Poland did so in 2021, and the possible Overturning Roe v. Wade in the United States is making people and activists fear for the worst.

What is actually scary is a precedent that has happened in Poland in September 2021: Justyna Wydrzyńska, an activist working with the Polish group Aborcyjny Dream Team (Abortion Dream Team), was set to face trial, being charged with helping a woman end her pregnancy by providing her abortion pills. Wydrzyńska faces up to three years in prison if found guilty (trial is still pending up to the publication date, author’s note), this being the first case in Europe where pro-abortion activist has been persecuted for providing abortion pills, says Amnesty International.

This case sets a precedent in modern day Europe that could be taken upon by the United States with a few frightening twists. Already in 2019, in Alabama, Marshae Jones was charged with manslaughter (New York Times); she was pregnant, she was shot, she had a miscarriage and was persecuted while her aggressor was free to go. She was stated to be unable to protect her child since she allegedly initiated the fight, and in Alabama a fetus is considered to have the same rights as a born child. While the district attorney then dismissed her case and Jones was free to go as well, this episode can be seen as a cautionary tale in which women are charged if endangering the unborn. But what if getting an abortion, or even trying to, becomes a felony in most of the United States? Well, it goes without saying that felons lose some of their rights. While only Maine, Vermont and the District of Columbia allow felons to vote even when incarcerated, the other 47 remaining states suspend the right at least while the person is still in prison; 11 states require additional action for the restoration of vote after the completion of the sentence. This would mean that if in a not-so-dystopian future women were found guilty of endangering the unborn they would lose their right to vote. Teaching and childcare employment are also part of the rights that felons lose at a federal level, leaving the educational field to people who might be anti-choice, and therefore secure in their job stability.

I am by no means a medical professional nor a lawyer and do not intend to encourage or influence anyone’s decision with this article. If you or anyone you know is in a crisis and need additional information, I believe you might want to visit a professional doctor or, in case that were impossible, websites like Women On Web (https://www.womenonweb.org) to research the safest way to handle your situation.

About the author: I am a lesbian intersectional feminist who loves to read books and write thoughts down; I mostly travel around in search of new adventures and cultures to learn from!


drawing by @pius.ko

#abortion #prochoice #feminism #abortionrights #humanrights #womensrights #mybodymychoice #equality #pregnancy #empowerment

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