This year’s onslaught of state laws challenging Roe v. Wade has been quite perplexing, to put it lightly. Realistically, I’ve never been so scared to be a woman — not when I’ve heard footsteps following me for too long, had to walk down dark streets or when I’ve been intoxicated at a party.

I’m lucky to live in the state of Maine, and it surprises me each day at how progressive and inclusive it really is. “Dirigo,” baby! I love my state, but I hurt that women living in Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio and several other states are newly subject to recently passed almost zero-tolerance anti-abortion laws.

Men and women shouldn’t sit around and think, “Well, it’s not my state” because the next word is “yet.” Every person — not just every woman — should keep in mind that even though all of the bans on abortion have been blocked by the courts, and even though our state does not have these restrictions, such laws are dangerous regardless whether or not they are eventually upheld. They encourage more efforts to block abortion access. And they are aimed at challenging Roe v. Wade, which found that the right to choose whether or not to have an abortion falls under the protection of the 14th Amendment — the right to privacy under in the amendment’s due process clause.

And if these laws are upheld, they will have an immediate impact. A legal abortion is one of the safest procedures that a woman can undergo, but with it essentially outlawed, underprivileged women will seek treatment in unsafe conditions, resulting worldwide in almost 47,000 deaths, according to the World Health Organization. Banning abortion has proven to affect low-income populations, because those with means have the ability to seek secret abortions from licensed clinics and doctors.

Too often the term “pro-abortion” has been used. No one is “pro-abortion”; they are “pro-choice.” The difference is there are many, many pro-choice women who would not have an abortion but who advocate for a woman’s autonomy over her body. No woman treats an abortion lightheartedly, despite what many suggest.

Forcing a woman carry a child to term is systematic oppression. As Irish writer Sally Rooney declared, noting that “consent, in the form of a donor card, is required even to remove organs from a dead body,” a woman in a place where abortion is illegal “is granted fewer rights than a corpse.” Poverty has been correlated with lack of health care and sex education time and time again, but as a nation we are cutting funding to organizations like Maine Family Planning that help low-income women receive Pap smears, birth control, sexually transmitted infection testing, etc.

Here’s another shot in the foot. In many of the states that are passing anti-abortion laws, legislators in the Republican majority also rail against supposedly socialist programs like food stamps and Medicaid expansion. Well, they are essentially enrolling a woman in the system they despise when they force her to carry to term and raise a child without health insurance, without a second person’s income (in fact, she’ll have to miss work for her prenatal appointments), without resources and without access to affordable health care — like Family Planning.

Don’t come at me with the “life argument” — that’s another whole op-ed. Here’s what we can do today to protect women equality and keep us from a real-life re-enactment of “The Handmaid’s Tale.”

• Support your local Family Planning, free clinic, etc.

• Advocate for women’s autonomy over their bodies. Men, when’s the last time someone forced you to do something with your body? Exactly.

• Vote for progressive, forward-thinking, members of Congress (both Republican and Democratic).

• Advocate for voting systems that break the two-party system and allow other worthy candidates in the ring.

This is about a woman’s freedom over her body and fighting systematic oppression. Otherwise, you may as well raise your glass and practice your “praise be.”


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