Like a lot of you, I’m furious about Texas. In moments when I feel like this, I find it helpful to focus my thoughts and feelings. Here’s where I’m at with that.
First: it’s been conclusively established in the data over the last half century that making abortion illegal doesn’t reduce the number of abortions. It only reduces the number of *legal* abortions — the abortion rate is 37 per 1000 in countries that prohibit abortion and the abortion rate is 34 per 1000 in countries that allow abortion. Statistically identical.
What making abortion illegal *does* do is dramatically increases women’s risk, for:
- Incomplete abortions
- Heavy bleeding (hemorrhaging)
- Uterine perforation (or the uterus being pierced by a sharp object)
- Damage to the genital tract and internal organs (due to inserting dangerous objects like sticks, knitting needles, broken glass)
- Increased anxiety
- Lowered self-esteem
- Lowered life satisfaction
- General mental unwellness
To be clear, the people working to pass anti-abortion laws know this. They’re not dummies. So, if they’re not passing these laws to lower the number of abortions, why are they passing them?
Power, fear, and control.
When you pass anti-abortion laws, what you’re saying to women (and men who care about women’s rights) is, “Fuck you. We control you. We can do whatever we want to you, and you can’t do a goddamned thing about it.” It’s the same basic mindset as terrorists, abusive managers, spouse-beaters, rapists, etc. Power, fear, and control.
What it isn’t: it’s nothing to do with “life,” or “babies.” Right-wingers don’t give two shits about people’s babies; if they did, they wouldn’t also be working to end social welfare programs. It’s authoritarianism. It’s strict enforcement of hierarchy and power at the expense of personal freedom. It’s “because we can,” and “wait till you see what else we’re going to do to you.” It’s shock and awe. It’s meant to instill fear, and to cow you into submission. Power, fear, and control.
And: it’s okay to be freaked out. I’m freaked out. We’re all freaked out. It’s good to honor that feeling, and sit with it, and take the time you need to process it. Your feelings are valid and they’re important. And this is legitimately scary stuff! Women will die as a result of this. Congrats, everyone who supported this — the energy you’re putting into the world is going to be responsible for killing a bunch of women. Mostly poor women and women of color. This is something you’re doing. I hope you’re proud of yourselves.
But, to my people: don’t let these fuckers win! Don’t let them control your feelings long-term. Because that’s the entire point of it — to scare you into submission. That’s how authoritarianism and religious extremism work. Power, fear, and control.
Instead: look them in the eye and tell them “fuck you” right back. And then get active.
The good news: there are are *way* more of us than there are of them. As of June, 61% of Americans believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases. 61 to 39 — that’s not even close. That’s more than a 20-point spread, and widening. This train has left the station — both history and popular opinion are on our side.
But the other side clearly isn’t going down without a massive fight! So we have to fight back. It sucks. I know we all have other things we’d rather be doing, and I know we’re all beyond exhausted, after four years of terrifying authoritarian politics and, oh, yeah, A FUCKING PANDEMIC. But it is what it is. Progress always involves fighting; there’s always some miserable son of a bitch on the other side trying to drag you back down to the shitty place where they’re living out their existence. But do we give up? NO WE DO NOT.
Here are some things you can do right now:
- Make really goddamned sure you’re registered to vote.
- Make sure your friends in purple states are registered to vote.
- Have your friends in red states double-check their registrations, especially if they’re people of color; red states are doing coordinated voter-suppression measures right now, including deleting people from voting rolls, mostly people of color.
- Join phone banks to help run the politicians who do shit like this out of office (ask me if you need help finding one).
- Run for local or state elected office yourself (let me know if you need resources to get started with this).
- Send money to people helping Texan women get safe abortions (let me know if you need me to point you in their direction)
- Send money to the people fighting these types of authoritarian / religious extremist laws (ask me if you need suggestions).
Our side has the numbers; the other side has the momentum right now. But we can change that. So, take the time you need to process how you’re feeling — and, if you need to talk with someone about how you’re feeling, you can message me — and then get active. It feels a hell of a lot better than doomscrolling your phone and panicking about things.
Let me know if you need help or support in figuring out how to get involved. We can change this. It’s going to take a lot of work. But we can do it.