Why Abortion Access Became More Important to Me When I Came Out
After President Trump was elected, I had a miniature — read: major — breakdown, so I decided to focus on a specific issue: Abortion access. In January of 2017, I joined the board of directors at NARAL Pro-Choice Minnesota, which works on everything from pro-choice legislation to running a volunteer clinic escort program. At the time, I was still in a heterosexual relationship, and I wasn’t really down with being a baby vessel for the government. My understanding and passion for abortion only deepened, though, when I came out as queer later that year.
Abortion isn’t just about choosing whether or not to have a child. It’s about the ability to make decisions about your own, magnificent body. It’s that simple: being pro-choice is believing in the right to self-autonomy. I’ve never had an abortion, but I came out as queer at the age of 27, and to me, that falls under the right to choose. When I realized that I could live a fuller life outside of a heterosexual relationship, I had the choice to leave that relationship. It was excruciating and terrifying to take that step, but I cherish the fact that I could do it.
My partner can’t get me pregnant. So, why do I care about abortion still? What a lot of people don’t realize is that abortion access is an LGBTQ issue. The Hyde Amendment, a federal provision that bans the use of Medicaid to cover abortion, disproportionately affects low-income individuals. Unfortunately, research shows that LGBTQ people are more likely to live in poverty. In addition, LGBTQ individuals face a higher risk of sexual assault. Finally, just because you’re queer doesn’t mean you can’t get pregnant by your partner; while the conservative notion of a family is “man and wife,” there are so many different ways to define a family in the LGBTQ community.
I also view my inability to get pregnant as a privilege. I don’t foresee myself in a heterosexual relationship ever again, and I don’t have to worry about my personal access to abortion, or even birth control. Whenever I hear about the latest abortion restrictions, I think about my loved ones who may need an abortion someday, yet may not have access to this basic human right. If you were sexually assaulted, you should be able to get an abortion. If you’re suffering through an ectopic pregnancy, you should be able to get an abortion. But I also believe that you don’t need a reason to get this simple medical procedure. Did you intentionally get pregnant and then change your mind? Get drunk on a Friday night and sleep with two different guys? If you want an abortion, you should get one.
Even when I was in a heterosexual relationship, abortion wasn’t necessarily an issue that I fought for personal reasons; as a white, middle-class woman living in a major city, I knew that I could get an abortion if I needed to. Instead, I fought for abortion access for the individuals who can’t afford to raise a child, who are in rural communities, who face discrimination in health care settings, or who simply don’t want a child, but live in a society that tells them what to do with their bodies.
Unfortunately, with a conservative majority on the Supreme Court of the United States and a deeply anti-choice administration, abortion rights are under attack, and Roe v. Wade is on the line. Just last month, President Trump repeated this dangerous lie: “The baby is born. The mother meets with the doctor. They take care of the baby. They wrap the baby beautifully. And then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby.”
This is so far from true. In fact, all but seven states have gestational limits of 20 to 24 weeks, and only 1.3 percent of abortions occur after 21 weeks, according to 2014 data from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Guttmacher Institute. The fact that the president of the United States is telling complete lies like this is terrifying, and it puts abortion providers in danger.
These days, I continue to fight for abortion access for those who need it, even if I’m not one of them. And even though I’m queer, as a white, cis-gender woman, I have more privilege than others. My partner is non-binary, and they’ve been chased out of so many restrooms, they no longer use bathrooms in public. Still, we’re both white, thin, and able-bodied, and, living in a liberal city, we’re allowed to mosey along on our gay way. Therefore, I fight for those who are unable to.
My favorite pro-choice saying is one that delightfully borrows rhetoric from the anti-choice movement: Abortion is a miracle. You know what else is a miracle? My ability to live as an out and proud queer woman. I will continue to fight for for these rights with every breath of my self-autonomous body until my dying day.
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