The right to safe abortion is the cornerstone of the women’s movement. It’s the ground on which we stand to become lawyers and academics and policy writers and journalists and activists. It’s allowed us reproductive freedom and put us on equal footing with those without wombs; mainly cis men who, for centuries, saw our bodies as countries to rape and pillage. Our wombs were colonised – the cock was the flag that ploughed deep into our stolen earth.
I am a feminist. Like so many others I am a girl who fought to find her voice in a world that deferred to the tones of men. I thought the tide had turned. I thought we were evolving towards a gentler world of gender equity, of rainbows and fluid pronouns; a place where the old power structures have crumbled.
I heard about the overturning of the Roe v Wade ruling on the radio Saturday morning and I burst into tears. It felt surreal. I’m a 54 year old feminist who has lived to see the world regress into the violence of state sanctioned misogyny. And it’s happening in America, in the land of some of the world’s most courageous feminist thinkers, in the country that boasts about its liberty and freedom of speech. That same country has taken away one of the most basic rights a woman has: reproductive autonomy. America’s conservatives have taken away the life choices of pregnant people, but put guns in the hands of children.
How could a 50-year ruling be discounted? What does it tell the world about our value? About our rights? I knew it was on the cards. But it hit me like a punch in the guts. Deep in my ovaries I felt the assault; the violence of having your womb stolen. Stamped ‘property of God’. I am not American but the country of our bodies has no borders. The country is all of us. And they are coming. This is a gender-cide. This is a war on our wombs.
Gilead is here. Atwood’s dystopian future has arrived. With the overturning of Roe v Wade women and gender diverse people in America have lost their constitutional right to an abortion. Safe access to reproductive healthcare should be a human right. There will be consequences. We will die. Women of colour, disabled, financially disadvantaged and gender diverse people are the most at risk. They have lost their reproductive rights.
The law dictates now that the contents of their wombs dictate their health and life outcomes. If they have been raped, or if the pregnancy is a result of incest, it doesn’t matter. The pregnancy will proceed. The mother is meaningless. The impact on her/their mental health and life outcomes is disregarded. While he ejaculates and leaves the scene, she/they live with the consequences. By not having access to safe abortion, her/their life is taken. We are made cows. Breeding stock. Hormonal pizza ovens to cook up the next generation of Patriarchs… Supreme Court Judges with everything, except humanity.
Don’t think this won’t impact us here. It will. Abortion was only decriminalised in NSW in October 2019. Only two years ago our State legislators decided it could be removed from the criminal code and regulated as a health procedure. It’s still not a constitutional right in Australia. There are different rules in every state, it’s been called a postcode lottery. We know that legal abortions save lives, because making abortion illegal doesn’t stop them happening. It just means more pregnant people die.
What has happened in America is a huge step backwards for equality. The ruling was made because a right to abortion didn’t exist constitutionally before the 19th century. They are already talking about challenging the constitutional right to contraception and to same sex marriage. What’s next? Women’s right to vote?
The same country that puts guns in the hands of children to shoot other children has no right to storm our bodies and hold us reproductive hostage. Stigmatising and criminalising abortion is the road back to patriarchal privilege and violence.
This is a war on our wombs.