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The Pro-Life Movement Weaponizes Kids. I Should Know—They Did It to Me.

Participation in March for Life starts early as a rite of passage for those in the anti-choice community. As a child of Quiverfull parents, I remember attending local marches and vigils in middle school, with all my younger siblings in attendance with me. Other families brought toddlers in strollers, babies worn in slings. We carried the gruesome signs made with photos of aborted fetal tissue and stood outside the local Planned Parenthood.

It was a family affair because the issue at stake was, we were told, a human rights issue and all of us could have been in danger of abortion ourselves. I had to care, because it could have been me on that sign.

On the March for Life website, the first tagline that pops up reads: “Abortion is the most significant human rights abuse of our time. Will you take a stand?” This framing is vital to ensuring the longevity of the movement—it must be seen as a human rights or civil rights cause in order to secure buy-in from Christians who want to be active citizens and patriots and don’t know much about the actual history of human rights violations in the United States.

When I was a kid, my parents chose homeschooling curriculum that framed U.S. history as if Christians were the heroes: Slaughter of Indigenous people was spun as failed missionary efforts toward stubborn and ungrateful people; slavery was portrayed as benevolent but morally bankrupt; the founding fathers were upheld as paragons of moral excellence. This vision of history centers white people and Christians as the protagonists. Everyone else is essentially a side character.

American history, when taught this way, plays into the anti-choice agenda. My sense of myself as a participant in “pro-life” vigils and the March for Life was that I was engaged in a civil rights movement, following in the footsteps of Christian activists like Martin Luther King Jr., William Wilberforce, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. This perspective was necessary to keep me and the other protesters believing that we were on the side of good, on the side of the vulnerable, on the side of God.

There’s a level of cultivated ignorance required for this belief. I had to be kept from understanding the history of racism, the history of capitalism disenfranchising the medically vulnerable, the history of sexual violence and patriarchal coercion of economically vulnerable people with uteruses. In order to believe that I was participating in a crusade for good, I had to not understand the actual history of Christian empire imposing itself on those it conquered.

Every month or so I’m learning just another way that our history is riddled with abuses of power and legalized brutality.

The March for Life deliberately mimics the optics of the 1963 March on Washington, following a similar route, centering prayer and religious leaders as speakers. This is not unusual for protests held in Washington, D.C., but as a child, I didn’t know that. All I knew is that the images of the 1963 march felt similar to the images of the Marches for Life because that’s what I was shown in my textbooks as a parallel cause.

As the 2022 March for Life draws near, I think about how this approach to teaching history also parallels the current debates around history education in public schools—critical race theory, or CRT, is actually a term for a certain method of legal historical interpretation, but as a buzzword today it’s shorthand for something like “being taught that white people have oppressed people of the global majority over centuries.” Realizing the discrepancies between my childhood’s whitewashed history education and the real history of the United States is a process of deconstruction and active corrective education that has taken years and is far from over. Every month or so I’m learning just another way that our history is riddled with abuses of power and legalized brutality.

If the CRT panic is successful in censoring history pedagogy, there’s going to be a whole generation of kids who have to re-educate themselves like I’ve had to do. And since the same conservatives who organize the March for Life are also pushing the CRT panic, it seems like that’s part of a strategy to resurrect the Moral Majority, which originally coalesced around the conservative reaction to Roe v. Wade.

If the kids think that they’re part of a crusade for good because they don’t know what they don’t know, it’ll be easy to manipulate them into anti-choice activism—just like I was.

Eggs Are Not People. But the Anti-Abortion Movement Wants to Change That.

Conservatives have long relied on the false promise that no matter how many abortion restrictions they enact, they’re not targeting the people who have abortion. They’ll regulate abortion into nonexistence by targeting providers and, as with Texas SB 8, anyone who helps someone obtain an abortion—from the person who drives a patient to the clinic to the person who answers phones for their local abortion fund. Despite that, they’ll say pregnant people are not in their crosshairs.

But now they’re saying the quiet part out loud.

Anti-abortion lawmakers are working to enact “personhood” laws, which codify into law the concept that life begins at conception. In the simplest of terms? Personhood laws confer all the same rights that living, breathing human beings have onto a fetus; they make abortion murder and anyone who has an abortion a murderer.

Abortion advocates have warned against such measures for years, arguing that personhood was the eventual endgame of the anti-abortion movement. Now creeping personhood seems to have escalated to a sprint.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court is poised to decide the most consequential abortion case in decades—Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization—which will likely bring about the end of Roe v. Wade as we know it by gutting the constitutional protections that, frayed as they may be, have been safeguarding access in this country since the 1970s. And it’s only getting worse from here.

Personhood is not a hypothetical—it’s a reality

The concept of personhood is not new. The first personhood amendment was introduced in Congress a mere week after Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. Since then, lawmakers have tried and failed to pass such measures. In recent years, personhood legislation has cropped up in states around the country, including Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Missouri, and Ohio.

And while such measures directly contravene both Roe and the 14th Amendment, new laws will be coming before what is arguably the most conservative judiciary in recent history—one that will no doubt be emboldened by the impending decision in Dobbs v. Jackson later this year.

In Indiana, lawmakers this session introduced two bills—HB 1217 and HB 1282—with personhood provisions; the latter legally defines life as beginning at fertilization. The law “finds that human physical life begins when a human ovum is fertilized by a human sperm [and] asserts a compelling state interest in protecting human physical life from the moment that human physical life begins.” The bill would change the criminal code to reflect the new definition; that means any pregnancy that does not end in a live birth would be vulnerable to murder or manslaughter charges. It also means that some standard in vitro fertilization procedures, like the destruction of embryos, would be illegal as well.

Similar measures are familiar to advocates in Colorado, where earlier this month a state panel blocked a proposed personhood ballot initiative from advancing.

“Colorado really has been the canary in the coal mine for this type of extremism,” said Karen Middleton, the president of Cobalt, a Colorado nonprofit dedicated to abortion rights. “We’ve had four personhood measures on the ballot since 2008, plus numerous attempts at the state legislature. We’ve seen this coming for years. Anti-abortion forces don’t just want to ban abortion. They want to ban the whole idea of bodily and reproductive autonomy.”

And in Arizona last April, the state enacted SB 1457, which broadens the criminal and civil code to include “an unborn child at every stage of development” alongside any mention of a person or child. The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Arizona, and the Center for Reproductive Rights filed a lawsuit challenging the law, which includes a provision that bans all abortions sought in the presence or presumption of a fetal anomaly. In September, a district court struck down the fetal anomaly provision, but allowed the personhood provision to stay in effect; appeals of both holdings are before the Ninth Circuit for consideration.

“This so-called ‘Personhood Provision’ provides the grounds for state actors in Arizona including prosecutors and child welfare authorities to treat the fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses inside of pregnant women as whole persons with independent rights,” National Advocates for Pregnant Women, which filed an amicus brief in the case, said in a press release.

Advocates at NAPW who spoke with Rewire News Group made clear that while personhood measures purport to safeguard the rights of the “unborn,” what they actually do is diminish the rights of pregnant people and make them vulnerable to prosecution. Advocates said this impact is not a hypothetical—it’s already a reality in states across the country, as criminalization of adverse pregnancy outcomes is on the rise.

“​​This was coming for a long time,” NAPW founder Lynn Paltrow said. “So a major long-term strategy has been to establish, in every area of law they could, the idea that fertilized eggs, embryos, and fetuses were separate people. What you see is an evolution from them sort of going along with the viability line, so viable fetuses are persons, to the point where now it’s just from the moment of fertilization.”

The non-issue of viability

The question of viability is a sticking point for conservatives and progressives alike—the constitutional framework of abortion jurisprudence has set a precedent under which viability is the primary consideration in the question of when government intervention in abortion access is appropriate. But advocates told Rewire News Group that the first failure of abortion rights in the United States was contextualizing viability in the law in the first place.

“Viability is irrelevant to the fact that there should be no role for law enforcement in pregnancy or any outcome of pregnancy period,” Paltrow said. “That’s not what law enforcement should be used for. Pregnancy and its outcomes are health issues. They should be seen as health issues that half of the human population, half of the U.S. population is likely to have to deal with in the course of their lifespans.”

A means of marginalization

If the impact of these laws stopped with abortion patients and providers, that alone would be egregious. But personhood provisions provide a grim insight into the ways in which abortion restrictions pervade every aspect of pregnancy care and have the potential to impact the lives of anyone who can become pregnant.

The broad effects of personhood laws make clear that it has never been about abortion per se for those advocating for these restrictions, just as it has never been about the “sanctity of life” or the procedure itself; it’s not about dilation and curettage or misoprostol and mifepristone. Abortion for these lawmakers is merely a means to an end—a tool to oppress and marginalize populations they deem less worthy: people of color, people living in poverty, disabled people, members of LGBTQ communities, anyone who faces marginalization.

The movement’s use of abortion restrictions and other family planning policies as a means to marginalize is nothing new. The United States has a long and shameful history of using the ability to become pregnant as a way to oppress entire communities.

“I’m old enough to remember taking a friend to an illegal abortion in Los Angeles and waiting in the car while she went in and hoping she would come out alive,” said Dianne Post, an attorney with decades of experience on cases involving sexual violence, domestic violence, and international human rights law who assisted NAPW on its amicus brief. “She did. I also tried to get my tubes tied and no doctor would do it. At the same time they were involuntarily sterilizing Black and Hispanic women in the hospitals in Los Angeles.”

The nuances of pregnancy and birth, death and life

“The consequences of putting this ideological language into law would be sweeping,” said Caroline Mello Roberson, the Southwest regional director for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Not only would it criminalize abortion, but it could also ban stem cell research, assisted reproductive technology like in vitro fertilization (IVF), and common forms of birth control.”

Pregnancy and birth are nuanced; someone who experiences a miscarriage early in a pregnancy may feel differently about what they’ve lost than someone who has an elective abortion. Someone undergoing IVF treatments might regard their embryos with a different sentiment than someone passing fetal tissue during a medication abortion. And while conservatives will seize on these distinctions to justify legislation that relies on a viability framework or establishes the rights of a fetus, what these deeply human and widely differentiated experiences make clear is, in fact, the opposite.

“Laws are such blunt and clumsy instruments,” said Jodi Liggett, founder of Arizona Center for Women’s Advancement, which joined NAPW’s amicus brief. “They can’t possibly be used in a situation like this.”

Conservatives often underline their advocacy for abortion restrictions, and personhood by extension, with the argument that nowhere else in law or society do we “sanction” the “taking of a life.” And while a fetus at any stage of development does not qualify as a person under the 14th Amendment, Liggett points out that these kinds of questions are not specific to the abortion discussion.

“We just had a death in the family,” she said. “It reminded me that we collectively, including the government, have empowered doctors and families on end-of-life matters.” After finding out a loved one would not recover from a stroke, Liggett said her family said goodbye, the doctor administered a morphine push, and he passed away.

“The pro-life movement isn’t all over that, right? It’s a telling indicator of the misogyny [that] just undergirds all of this,” she said. “They figured out, under Reagan I think it was, that ‘Oh my God, abortion is a wedge issue. It divides the country, and the breaks favor us.’ It’s about winning.”

How personhood shows up in insidious ways

Criminalizing the choice to end a pregnancy might seem radical to those unfamiliar with the tactics and aims of the anti-abortion movement, but a look at long-standing statutes in many states makes clear how the concept of personhood has already insidiously worked its way into the law. The idea that a fetus has all the rights of a human being exists not only in explicitly anti-choice laws but in legislation on all kinds of issues.

“Personhood comes in statutes around the country in seemingly innocuous statutes, such as inheritance, divorce, tax,” said Purvaja S. Kavattur, a research and program associate at NAPW.

“But what we’re seeing in our documentation is that the more hostile states are including model language and definitions in the exact same [way] everywhere in any statute, that’s unrelated to health or pregnancy.”

And these laws are even sometimes framed through a lens of protecting pregnant people.

“A very salient example of that is feticide statutes, which are often passed with bipartisan support based on the notion that they will protect pregnant people from domestic violence and intimate partner violence, and who wouldn’t want to do that?” NAPW staff attorney Emma Roth said.

“People are able to shroud these statutes with this goal of protecting women and ensuring that pregnancy is a safer or happier time in a woman’s life; then prosecutors turn around and use those various statutes against pregnant women themselves, even though that was never the explicit intent of the legislature. It just goes to show that states don’t even need these very explicit versions of personhood statutes.”

Saying the quiet part out loud

On Friday, anti-abortion activists will descend on Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life. This year’s theme is “Equality Begins in the Womb.”

It’s hard to imagine a more overt endorsement of the concept of personhood than the largest anti-abortion demonstration making this their rallying cry. It dispels any conceivable doubt that the movement is coming loudly and unapologetically for the rights of pregnant people in the name of protecting the “unborn.”

“People have a hard time believing the extremism of the ‘personhood’ movement, but they mean every word of it,” Middleton said. “They have repeatedly said so, and we should believe them. Personhood denies the humanity of the pregnant person and turns them into a vessel under state control. Every pregnancy outcome, from abortion to miscarriage to a complex birth, is potentially suspect.”

For conservatives, this was always the endgame. They’ve been relatively coy about it, but for abortion activists and movement leaders, this moment comes as no surprise. There is no more pandering to an ideological “middle,” no more cloaking their motives in softened language to make it palatable for moderates or to obscure the brutality of their intent.

The open embrace of personhood will have a devastating impact on abortion access nationwide, not to mention pregnancy and birth care. In short, anyone who can become pregnant will have their lives touched by these laws if conservative are able to see these plans through. There is no greater threat to reproductive autonomy and, by extension, personal liberty than personhood.

There is no clearer illustration of the far-reaching harms anti-choice laws pose and of the bad faith with which they are devised.

The question then becomes: Will it be enough for lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to see the fight for personhood as a human rights crisis? Will conservatives’ endgame be their downfall?

Adoption Agencies vs. ‘Roe’: The Invisible Hand Stirring the Pot

“I don’t think I had any real option. When you go into these homes you’re not going in with any options.”

My grandmother’s voice is shaky on the phone. It is the first time I’m asking her about how she relinquished her parental rights to her son, Joseph, in the early 1960s at a “home for unwed mothers.” She was not showing signs of her pregnancy until her last month, she tells me, which is another way of saying that she wasn’t ushered into the home earlier to be kept hidden.

“It was shortly after the child was born that you were in there signing papers. Within hours,” she says. “The biggest emotion was getting to hold him, and then after having to sign the paperwork, it was depression.” She describes stories she remembered of people getting an abortion and dying, of unsafe and unregulated pills, conditions, or practices. When I ask her if she would’ve gotten an abortion if they had been available and safer back then, she says, “Absolutely.”

Adoption rates have declined since the Baby Scoop Era, a period that began in the mid-1940s and concluded with the Roe v. Wade ruling issued 49 years ago this week. A time plagued by stigmas around single parenthood and premarital sex, and little-to-no access to contraception and abortion, the Baby Scoop Era ushered many birth-givers into wedlock, shame, fear, and danger. Many were sent to convents or homes for unwed mothers, where they were kept until they gave birth, an event that ultimately ended with a coerced or forced adoption.

But the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973, in combination with more widespread contraception and changing perspectives on single parenthood, caused the rates of domestic adoptions to stagnate.

As journalist Kathryn Joyce notes, adoption is an industry like any other, one that operates on supply and demand.

“After the sexual revolution of the ‘60s and ‘70s, the number of births went down significantly, and so did the adoption rate. So the international adoption industry exploded,” Joyce said. Yet after the truth about the ethics and morals of international adoption—a practice particularly encouraged by evangelicals—was uncovered, largely due to Joyce’s investigative work, those adoptions saw a dip in frequency as well.

These two major declines in adoption rates weren’t catalyzed by a decrease in demand, however. Many adoptive parents wait two years or more for a “healthy infant.” In fact, Bethany Christian Services, a religious adoption agency (one of the largest in the United States) with a history of disconcerting practices, has stopped accepting adoption applications in many of its locations.

Adoption agencies and “crisis pregnancy centers” tend to be religiously affiliated and have ties to the anti-abortion movement. In 2020, the anti-abortion PAC Susan B. Anthony List and its partner, Women Speak Out, received several large-sum donations from churches and organizations that support or oversee adoptions. The Diocese of San Bernardino, which donated multiple times to both, says it’s committed to helping “the needy through a number of dynamic community services including, Immigration and Refugee Services, Family Counseling … Crisis Pregnancy … Pregnancy Counseling and Adoption and Foster Care.” Another frequent donor was the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia, which pointed me in the direction of Bethany Christian Services as a viable option for adoption services.

Providence Place, a crisis pregnancy center and adoption agency, is based in San Antonio, Texas, where the recent near-total abortion ban, SB 8, is still in effect. Providence Place is listed as an alternative to abortion by both Texas Right to Life and the San Antonio Coalition for Life. The agency proudly speaks of its beginnings as a home for unwed mothers:

[From 1895 to the mid-1970s], it was the mentality that young expectant mothers could be spirited away to have their babies, place them for adoption and return to their normal lives—high school, college, work—as if nothing had happened. For would-be parents who couldn’t conceive, it was a godsend—they could have a family at last.

But as has been revealed of many convents and homes for unwed mothers, the conditions of these adoptions were less than pleasant or consensual. Providence Place now advertises itself as an adoption agency that honors and upholds life by helping expectant parents choose either adoption or parenting. Its website suggests pregnant people ask themselves three questions to help determine whether adoption is right for them:

  • Are you financially and emotionally able to provide for a child?
  • Is the father able and willing to provide financial and emotional support to you and the child?
  • Are you ready to prioritize the needs of another above your own?

Answering no to these questions suggests that “adoption may be the right choice.” While abortion is not listed as a possible option, it seems neither is trying to provide the expectant parent with financial resources or literacy to be better equipped at providing for their child.

“To suggest [adoption] as a solution for poverty, or a solution for removal of reproductive rights, discounts the experience of what going through an adoption is,” Joyce said. “That sort of blithe suggestion is: ‘We don’t need reproductive freedom because we have an out.’ The fact is, very few people seem to experience adoption in that way.”

With abortion being significantly less risky than childbirth (about 1 in 11,000 birthing people die in childbirth as opposed to 1 in every 167,000 of those who receive an abortion), it’s inhumane to force a pregnant person to carry to term if they don’t intend to parent. The psychological ramifications of giving a child up for adoption often surpass those of abortion, due to the psychological and physical bonding through pregnancy and birthing.

According to Gretchen Sisson, a researcher with Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health at the University of California, San Francisco, many pregnant people who don’t want to parent first consider abortion. If abortion is not viable or accessible, adoption becomes the foremost choice for only 14 percent of pregnant people denied abortion. However, only 9 percent of people in Sisson’s study ultimately chose to relinquish their child for adoption. It is important to reiterate that for 91 percent of study participants, the choice to parent came after the removal of bodily autonomy, which undermines the definition of “choice.”

With the fate of Roe v. Wade in the hands of the Supreme Court, we are potentially facing Baby Scoop Era restrictions on reproductive rights. However, Sisson’s study casts doubt on the idea that more widespread abortion restrictions might increase adoptions.

“Almost none of the parents I’ve spoken to say that adoption was their first choice. It’s what you do when you realize you don’t have another choice,” Sisson said. Then what might become of pregnant people in states with little-to-no access to abortion and religious ties in many of their adoption agencies? Many adoption agencies present themselves as the hopeful, safe, and correct option, while employing coercive shame tactics reminiscent of when the United States last had such restrictive policies.

The fact remains that so-called pro-life organizations, churches, and politicians seek to remove bodily autonomy from birthing people. While a reduction in abortion access might not increase adoption rates by significant numbers, it will certainly not be for a lack of trying by anti-choice adoption agencies and entities.

In a future without abortion access, in a country that refuses to uplift people out of poverty while determining they are not fit for parenthood, we face another era of influence and coercion, in which we are seen as links in a supply chain rather than people with rights. And we face a future where more people are parenting, despite deep desires to choose otherwise.

California’s Latest Reproductive Health Idea? Student Loan Repayment

While calls for student loan debt relief from millions go ignored by the Biden administration, more than 400,000 people will get some relief from a $1.85 billion settlement between Navient and 38 states over claims of predatory loan practices. One of those states is California, where student loan repayment is also part of a recommendation for improving reproductive health and abortion access.

Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom recently released his state budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. As part of the proposed budget, he’s asking for $20 million in student loan repayments and scholarships to future health-care workers who commit to providing reproductive health care.

It’s part of the state’s bid to be the first to achieve universal access to health care, regardless of immigration status. And that includes abortion access.

“The budget put forth today by Governor Newsom is another step toward leading the nation in prioritizing sexual and reproductive health care, including access to abortion,” Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California President and CEO Jodi Hicks said in a statement.

On January 1, the state became the first to require health insurance plans to cover at-home tests for sexually transmitted infections. Next, state lawmakers are hoping to eliminate the $300 to $900 that abortion patients pay out of pocket under existing health plans.

As conservative states across the country continue their attacks on abortion access, the Golden State is vying to become not just a safe haven but a beacon for reproductive rights in the United States.

“California is in a unique position—while our reproductive freedoms and ability to make choices about our own bodies are constitutionally protected, the same does not hold true in other areas of the country,” California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins wrote last month in the introduction to a report by the California Future of Abortion Council.

This post was adapted from a Twitter thread.

Why It’s Never Too Early to Start Sex Ed With Your Kids

You’ve likely seen the headlines: Adolescents Receiving Less Sex Ed Than 25 Years Ago. Teens Not Receiving Enough Sex Education. Adolescents Doomed Because Sex Ed Is So Darn Underwhelming. (That last one is mine. It represents the thoughts screaming through my head.)

Just this past November, researchers published a paper in the Journal of Adolescent Health that compared changes in sex ed based upon the data from the 2011-2015 and 2015-2019 National Survey of Family Growth. They found that only about half of the adolescents represented in the surveys received sex education that meets the minimum standard set in current national goals, many not even receiving lessons on sexuality until after they’ve already had sex.

On top of that, young people today are less likely to receive instruction on key sex education topics like birth control and consent than they were 25 years ago.

And for a society that purports to embrace diversity and inclusivity, our health education curricula don’t reflect that. Even now, many sex ed lessons still center heterosexual relationships, use illustrations of primarily white and able-bodied folks, and pathologize queer identities and behaviors (or exclude them entirely).

Our scattered system of sex education doesn’t help. The latest numbers from SIECUS show that only 32 states mandate sex education. Thirty-four states still require schools to stress abstinence in their sex ed classes. Seven states explicitly require instruction that discriminates against LGBTQ+ people. And 13 states still don’t require that sex ed be medically accurate, culturally responsive, age-appropriate, or evidence informed.

We need sex ed standards that put our children first

There are several things preventing our kids from getting the sex education they need. Uneven legislation, yes. But also, a lack of federal funding for comprehensive sexuality education. Fear and misunderstanding around what knowledge and information about sexuality will do for our kids. And a culture that increasingly seeks to police our bodies.

And then there are the sex education standards that seem to directly contradict each other. In a recent commentary in the Journal of Adolescent Health, pediatric and public health experts contrast two sets of sex ed standards: the Medical Institute for Sexual Health’s recently revised K-12 Standards for Optimal Sexual Development and the National Sex Education Standards (NSES). The authors point out that the Medical Institute for Sexual Health (MISH) has long supported abstinence-only approaches, and they were unsurprised to find that the institute’s K-12 standards still failed to adequately promote sex education that is science-based, medically accurate, and developmentally appropriate. The NSES, on the other hand, was developed by sex education organizations and health professionals.

In their article, the authors provide a chart that compares the glossaries from both sets of standards, from “ableism” (not included in the MISH standards) all the way to “wholeness” (not included in the NSES). Topics that do not appear in the MISH standards, but which do appear in the NSES, include “sexual orientation and gender identity; social determinants of health such as poverty, racism, and other forms of discrimination; disabilities; reproductive justice; prevention of HIV infection using PrEP therapy; and adolescent health care issues such as adolescent rights and minor consent laws.” Meanwhile, the MISH standards make space for entries on discipline, marriage, infatuation, and love, which do not appear in the NSES.

Other clues that MISH’s standards were produced by proponents of “sexual risk avoidance” (SRA, the shiny new term for abstinence-focused education) include a focus on the limitations of contraception and the presentation of marriage (and abstinence until marriage) as the expected goal for adolescent relationships. Premarital and extramarital sex, meanwhile, are characterized as dangerous to adolescents’ physical and mental health.

Then there is the question of what is and is not age-appropriate. It’s a common fear that teaching kids about sexuality before they’re cognitively ready is tantamount to inviting them to engage in sexual behaviors. A line in the MISH standards emphasizes that “cognitive maturity is not fully reached until the late 20s.”

I assure you that this is not true. I’ve talked to my child about reproduction, consent, and all manner of other sexuality-related topics, and she still thinks kissing is gross. If that evidence isn’t sufficient, you should also know that research on cognitive development suggests that the ability to participate in guided decision-making develops in early adolescence. In fact, as the Journal of Adolescent Health commentary says, “adolescents can and do make wise choices when guided by teachers who understand, respect, and nurture young people’s decision-making capacities.”

When I see the stark differences between these two documents, I have to ask: Who is qualified to create standards for sexuality education, and who then gets to decide which standards our schools follow? Standards that align with the tenets of comprehensive sexuality education were created by sex ed advocates and health-care providers who strive for evidence-informed and inclusive education. Opponents of comprehensive sexuality education, on the other hand, regularly use misleading information to bolster their arguments for abstinence-focused sex ed.

More and more often, I see these disinformation campaigns succeed. And when they do, it’s our kids who miss out.

Research shows comprehensive sexuality education not only reduces the number of unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), but also reduces bullying and sexual abuse, increases one’s ability to consent (or not) to sex, promotes healthy relationships, and more.

That’s the life I want for my child. The one where she gets to make smart choices about her relationships and her body based upon a strong foundation of evidence-informed knowledge.

We need more information—not less

We live in an era in which educators across the country are routinely attacked for providing students with more diverse lesson plans and educational materials. It seems that just about every day, I see a new article about a different town that has suspended a teacher or taken a librarian to task for making diverse books available to their students and patrons. Just about every week, I read about a Board of Education meeting that has gone south due to conversations on “critical race theory” and “pornography.”

One of the more recent articles, which appeared in the New York Times, highlights a new Texas law that regulates how teachers can approach lessons on race and gender. In light of this law, folks are preemptively pulling possibly problematic titles from their shelves.

This chilling effect is spreading across the United States, with educators pressured to provide less information not more.

As the mother of a 7-year-old, I find the trend dismaying. How can my child make smart, safe, healthy decisions around the way she lives her life if there are those who conspire to keep her in the dark?

I feel grateful for those organizations who continue to push for greater openness and inclusivity, in our classrooms and in the larger conversations we have within our communities.

I hope that more of us begin to step up and support them.

How the Anti-Choice Movement Is Using Voting Rights to Consolidate Power

The January 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol was a horrifying attempt to dismantle our democracy to advance an extreme right-wing agenda, but it didn’t happen in a vacuum. The same radical right that has been working for decades to erode our democratic institutions and impose their ideological agenda of power and control has also been fighting to strip away our freedom to decide if, when, and how we have children and form our families.

What we saw a year ago today and are seeing in the anti-choice movement now is the culmination of a decadeslong effort by forces hostile to social progress. The anti-democracy and anti-choice movements embrace disinformation at every turn, and their most extreme elements have often turned to violence. Anti-choice extremists were openly complicit in Trump’s efforts to undermine our democracy and regularly played an essential role in the disinformation networks that led to this moment.

And this isn’t new for them—when it comes to inciting right-wing violence, the anti-choice movement wrote the playbook. It’s no surprise that anti-choice elected officials, leaders, and activists helped promote and, in some cases, participated in the insurrection. To be clear—they are all part of the same movement.

Not only that, the legal right to abortion is hanging on by a thread. The U.S. Supreme Court could overturn Roe v. Wade in the coming months and, if they do so, we will likely be living in a world where 26 states ban abortion outright. But make no mistake, this plan is already in motion in some states. Take Texas, which has devised an end run around the Constitution in the form of a vigilante-enforced ban on abortion, Senate Bill 8. Just last month, the Supreme Court refused to block SB 8, rendering Roe effectively meaningless in our nation’s second-largest state. Now, 14 other states are clamoring to follow suit by enacting their own copycat bans on abortion.

At every turn, anti-choice lawmakers are emboldened and champing at the bit to outlaw abortion or push it as far out of reach as possible. How did we get here?

Trump and Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell solidified an anti-choice supermajority at the Supreme Court through the confirmations of Justices Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh, and Amy Coney Barrett, endangering our fundamental right to abortion. The ramifications of this hostile supermajority will continue for decades to come. Hoping to continue Trump’s dangerous presidency, anti-choice leaders and news outlets amplified conspiracy theories and disinformation about how the 2020 election was “stolen” from Trump and promoted the now-infamous “Stop the Steal” rally that resulted in the insurrection.

Then, they turned up at the Capitol a year ago. Abby Johnson, an anti-choice leader and a speaker at the 2020 Republican National Convention, proudly photographed herself in the front row of the January 6 rally and described being on the steps of the U.S. Capitol. Elijah Schaffer, who broke into House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office, was reposting anti-choice disinformation just days before the riots. Known abortion clinic harassers Tayler Hansen and Derrick Evans were documented inside the Capitol during the insurrection.

In addition to joining in on the deadly attack, the anti-choice movement has also been working to dismantle voting rights at every turn. Anti-choice extremists know that our freedom to vote is critical to electing leaders who share and represent the values of the majority of us, the 8 in 10 Americans who support the legal right to abortion. They know they can’t win on the merits of their unpopular policies, so they attack the right to vote itself by creating barriers to accessing the ballot box. Anti-choice groups like Susan B. Anthony List and Republican state legislators are trying to dismantle our democracy and enact legislation to disproportionately strip the core freedom to vote from all Americans, particularly Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian American and Pacific Islanders, and all people of color.

We cannot allow these bad actors and the elected officials who prop them up to thrive in the shadows. In the year since the insurrection, we’ve seen the anti-choice movement successfully attack not only abortion access and our right to vote but diversity in education, the transgender community, and many other issues supported by the majority of people in this country. It is clear from their actions that their vision for our future is white supremacist, patriarchal minority control.

January 6, 2021 marked a terrifying chapter in American democracy, but we can prevent this extremism from further taking hold. We must protect our democracy by immediately passing the Freedom to Vote Act, the Protecting Our Democracy Act, and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act through any means necessary. And then we must hold our elected officials accountable. In the midterms, we will be pulling out all the stops to vote out those who threatened American democracy and allowed January 6 to happen, and we will continue exposing the tactics and bad actors in this movement until they are brought to justice.

As a Mother, I Want What’s Best for My Family. That’s Why I Got an Abortion.

We put our toddler to bed and cozied up alongside the fireplace illuminating our small trailer in the woods. If you aren’t ready to have another child, then we have to change what we are doing. You can’t keep coming inside of me. He had protested the idea of a vasectomy (too emasculating). I tried an IUD, but the pain and heavy bleeding following its insertion led to its removal. My period had been irregular since giving birth, and between taking care of a toddler and healing from postpartum depression, I was never successful at tracking my cycle.

He continued to come inside of me, and we spent nights running off lists of names for a second child. I took this as an explicit, albeit unsaid, declaration of intent. I never pushed back on his equation of a vasectomy with loss of masculinity. I was not aware of how privileged and centered he was in the spaces he walked through in life as well as within our relationship. I never imagined that his pleasure would be prioritized over my reproductive, emotional, and mental well-being.

He was attracted to J names. John. Jacob. After spending my 20s worrying over occasional mishaps with breaking condoms and Plan B, and having successfully avoided any unwanted pregnancy, I was in my 30s then. I was already a mother, and I thought we were together on building our family. My name list was short: Yael.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2019 data, 6 in 10 women who have abortions are already mothers. This fact remains stigmatized and buried, as it allows for more politically expedient narratives that intentionally ignore this country’s lack of comprehensive sex education, national health care, and paid family leave, and its abysmal insurance and financial assistance support systems.

Instead, we face sex ed that primarily focuses on abstinence and sexually transmitted infections, a country that lags the rest of the world in paid family leave, and a sort of Amy Coney Barrett can do it all worldview that imagines one’s problems as individual in nature and not systemic. A national understanding that parents are the majority of people receiving abortions might bring some to question why, exactly? What does the wealthiest nation’s money go toward, if not health care, families, education, and foundational resources? Maybe here and here?

When I learned I was pregnant with our first child, my partner was by my side as we bought a home pregnancy test. The male cashier quoted Juno’s “your eggo is preggo” at me. The second test, two years later, I took alone at work. I picked up our child from day care and called my mother. I’m pregnant. I got home to our modest trailer that night and told my partner the news. His face went into a blank stare; his eyes darkened. He had nothing to say.

“For us as women and people with uteruses, our reproductive bodies and our sexual bodies are the same,” somatic sex educator and doula Katie Spataro told Rewire News Group. “So to be in a sexual relationship with somebody that we’re having sex with, we can’t necessarily separate out our reproductive bodies when we are in reproductive age. And still the majority of fertility management falls on the shoulders of women or people with uteruses, right? That has historically been the case. That still is the case.”

In my case, I was supposed to be sexually available to my partner. I was supposed to have sex when and how he wanted it. I thought I was supposed to get pregnant again. And then, when he didn’t like that outcome, it was my responsibility to get an abortion.

The United States has no national mandatory comprehensive sex education, and even if it did, would it cover and account for the nuance, complexity, and gendered power dynamics that contribute to pregnancies? We can’t even get on the same page regarding masks. Sex education looks radically different across this country, through regions, homes, schools, and communities. The Guttmacher Institute’s ​Definition of Comprehensive Sexuality Education centers topics exploring gender, pleasure, and sexual autonomy, which seem a lifetime away as we near the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade.

It is from a deep place of love that, as mothers, we choose what is best for our families. We have to break past the national channeling of “in cases of rape or incest” and declare this truth of selflessness.

Spataro is a sex educator—for adults. “Sex education, for me growing up, related to how not to get pregnant—it had nothing about pleasure or consent,” she said. For many of us in hetero partnerships, our awakening to cis male privilege and centering of pleasure is relatively recent. It has been spurred by the #MeToo movement, queer educators, and pleasure activists of the past decade that have called many of us to question the roots of our relationships with cis men in our lives. We have understood “patriarchy,” yet we still found ourselves trapped in the most intimate spaces within it. Toni Cade Bambara writes of this paradox in her essay “On the Issue of Roles,” first published in 1970: “We have not been immune to the conditioning; we are just as jammed in the rigid confines of those basically oppressive socially contrived roles.” What is the distance we must travel in practice, from our understanding of oppressive dynamics, to actually breaking free from them?

Without regular interrogation of our societal roles, what are we replicating? And how can we interrogate those roles when we find ourselves in partnerships with people who have no desire or interest in pursuing equanimity? I played my assigned gender role: compliant, docile, loving, and devoted. I did my all to avoid hard or complicated conversations. I had a fear of abandonment and of male anger. This was not innate. This behavior was learned. When I told him I was pregnant, he iced me out emotionally, and held his stance for 90 days.

For 90 days I was pregnant and parenting my toddler alone. Ninety days I spent without a partner for our family. Ninety days of feeling the structures crack beneath me. Ninety days of asking what resources I had. Ninety days of questioning if I wanted to be a single parent to one child, let alone two. In ninety days I made my decision.

Choosing an abortion was the most selfless act of my life. It is from a deep place of love that, as mothers, we choose what is best for our families. We have to break past the national channeling of “in cases of rape or incest” and declare this truth of selflessness. It is love that leads us to not bring another child into a household lacking in it. Or into an abusive relationship. Or a home where the foundations have long since crumbled. It is love that allows us to assess our resources, their limitations, and the communal support systems we may or may not have.

When we question how we will even pay for an abortion, we understand the truth that we do not have the financial bearings for an actual child. According to the Guttmacher Institute, 49 percent of women receiving abortions live below the poverty line. If this country was dedicated to family values, we would be addressing poverty as a national crisis and not manufacturing outrage over abortion.

Pleasure activist adrienne maree brown writes, “Pleasure activism is the work we do to reclaim our whole, happy, and satisfiable selves from the impacts, delusions, and limitations of oppression and/or supremacy.” It took me 90 days to have an abortion. It took me six months to finally leave. It has taken me the past seven years to learn to reclaim my whole self. To discover my own queerness, to center my own sexual pleasure, and to find strength, resolve, and community within the very real social and financial hardships of single parenthood. Every day has become a practice in creating liberated relationships.

My abortion story is not commonly told, yet it is so very common. At the root was a relationship composed under the oppressive umbrella of patriarchy. brown continues:

Liberated relationships are one of the ways we actually create abundant justice, the understanding that there is enough attention, care, resource, and connection for all of us to access belonging, to be in our dignity, and to be safe in community.

Our collective liberation will be rooted in liberated relationships: open and honest communication, imaginative exploration, and truly comprehensive sex education.

All I Want for Christmas Is Teen Access to Abortion

As Rewire News Group’s resident shopaholic, this is really my season to shine. Few things bring me more joy than making a list of things to get and give. But this holiday season, my number one gift isn’t anything I’ll find under the tree. Instead, this year at the top of my list to Santa—yes, even ahead of a new purse and an emotionally available man with salt-and-pepper hair in his mid-40s—is teen access to abortion.

All I want for Christmas is for every young person in the United States to have the ability to end their pregnancies when and how they want, without stigma, cost, or interference from their parents or the state. Is that so much to ask?

You might be wondering, “Now Caroline, as a materialist shopaholic, what brings that to the top of your list?” Well, it’s simple. For the last decade I’ve been working in the reproductive justice space in some capacity, and since day one, my favorite soapbox to climb on has been “TEENS DESERVE ABORTION ACCESS TOO.”

I say this for a couple reasons. On principle, it’s true—young people should be able to make their own decisions regarding their pregnancies, their abortions, and parenting without any, and I mean any, restrictions from the state. But that’s not the case in over half the country.

In most states, teens have to obtain consent from a parent or notify them before having an abortion. For young people who can’t trust a parent to help them make that decision, they’re forced to go through a judicial bypass process: a court hearing where the minor has to argue before a judge that they’re mature enough to make the abortion decision on their own. And if the judge finds that’s not the case, they then have to rule on whether the abortion is in the minor’s best interest.

If that doesn’t sound dystopian enough, consider that these laws only further harm already marginalized teens. Part of the reason I’m so passionate about teen access is because I grew up in a home where my mom taught me about abortion at a young age without stigma, fearmongering, or derision. I have the kind of mom who told me as soon as I became sexually active that no matter what situation I was in, she would be there to support me. So I knew, if I was ever faced with an unwanted or unplanned pregnancy, I would have the ability to have an abortion with her help. I knew that a parental consent law would never make a difference for me, as it won’t for any young person who is lucky enough to grow up like I did with an abortion-supporting parent.

Instead, these laws, which are touted as ways to protect young people, truly do anything but. They might not place any hurdles in the way of people like my family, but for young people living in abusive or unstable environments, parental involvement laws and judicial bypass make life a living hell. They not only add unnecessary logistical hurdles, but they create a humiliating and often traumatizing experience for young people trying to access their right to bodily autonomy.

Think about it: A young person living in foster care, who might be placed in an unfamiliar community, cannot turn to their foster parent or leader at their group home for consent. Now, they have to figure out how to go to court—how to get there, how to afford the transportation, and how to take time off from school to do so. A teen living in an abusive household might have to do all this while keeping it secret from a parent.

And these aren’t just hypotheticals. Earlier this year, the mother of a Louisiana teen sued to stop all judicial bypasses in the state when she found out her daughter was getting one. I’ve also done extensive reporting on the absolute horror show teens in foster care have to go through to access abortion and birth control.

But the second, and incredibly trenchant reason that this key issue tops my Christmas list? Apathy—from both sides of the aisle. Having spent ten years researching and reporting on this topic has unfortunately revealed to me that all too often, so-called progressives and liberals consider teen access to be the third rail of abortion politics. I’ve had people in the movement tell me to not be too loud about it so as to not spook lawmakers; I’ve had so-called progressive legal thinkers parrot anti-abortion talking points to me about 14-year-olds needing parental consent to take Tylenol at school. All of these responses capitulate to the conservative framework that moralizes abortion, and only for the worse.

But abortion is health care. Abortion is a moral good in that it is lifesaving and life-affirming. Abortion is freedom, and what’s a better Christmas gift than that? For all.

The Long, Twisted Road to Reversing ‘Roe v. Wade’

Now that Texas’ six-week abortion ban—in place for over 100 days—and the Mississippi 15-week ban directly aimed at overturning Roe v. Wade have made their way to a roundly anti-abortion Supreme Court, we’ve seen a flurry of “told you soroundups and exasperated reminders from feminist thinkers, legal scholars, and reproductive health, rights, and justice advocates who’ve raised countless yellow, orange, and flaming red flags over the years, warning that this day would inevitably come.

We are looking at the likely end of Roe’s protections in a matter of months, but this isn’t even the first time in recent memory that we’ve told-you-so’d after having told you that the end is nigh, only to have our clear-eyed analyses and urgent calls for change derided as fearmongering, hysterics, and overreaction—merely for, in some cases, taking anti-abortion politicians at their word.

Warnings about the tenuousness of Roe go back decades, practically to the moment the Supreme Court decided the case in 1973. It began in earnest in 1976 with the advent of the Hyde Amendment, which blocks people enrolled in Medicaid from using their insurance for abortion care. By the time Henry Hyde, a Republican from Illinois, was whining that he only had the means to block abortion access for poor women, Black women had long been speaking out against disparities in access to care. But the Supreme Court upheld Hyde, presaging what would become decades of chipping away at Roe, almost always at the expense of low-income families and pregnant people of color.

It would be 45 years before there was enough political momentum on the mainstream left to leave the Hyde Amendment out of the Senate’s proposed federal budget. And by “45 years,” I mean that until literally two months ago, the country’s highest profile Democrats felt that blocking abortion access for low-income folks was a good and reasonable compromise with Republicans on abortion.

To be clear: during the very same time—like literally on overlapping calendar days—that abortion has been effectively banned in Texas, a state with nearly 30 million residents, and while there is one single clinic providing abortion care in Mississippi, the most powerful people on the American left have been concerned that letting low-income folks use their Medicaid insurance for the full spectrum of reproductive health services might really go too far in support of abortion.

So, no. It wasn’t fearmongering in 1988 or 1990 when people were sounding the alarm over the coming end of Roe, and it wasn’t fearmongering in 2004, and it wasn’t fearmongering in 2011 or 2013 or 2014 or 2016 or 2018 or 2020. And it is not fearmongering today when people who can read the writing on the wall warn that the criminalization of pregnancy outcomes and the prosecution of pregnant people, especially women of color—which is already happening, and already on the rise—are inevitable realities in a post-Roe America.

This inevitability does not make decades of “we told you so” any more satisfying for those of us who’ve been ignored, mocked, and derided as over-emotional harpies—not just by Republicans gaslight us, but by our own ostensible allies on the allegedly “pro-choice” left. “We told you so” doesn’t get people abortions.

A grim landscape

The nearly 50-year journey to overturning Roe hasn’t been a straight line; there are too many things that happened along the way to cast responsibility for our current situation squarely in any one place, or even a handful of places. Of course we can blame the anti-abortion movement and the Republican Party for aggressively pursuing the end of Roe—if they hadn’t doggedly committed themselves to ending the right to abortion, we wouldn’t be where we are. That part’s easy. I’m mad as hell at them, and they don’t care. They’re not the “you” in we told you so.

Whenever members of the reproductive health, rights, and justice movements—along with scholars and journalists and supporters of abortion rights and access—have sounded the alarm about Roe, we have hoped to get through to people positioned to do something about it. We have hoped that this time, we would not be dismissed with “not yet” or “not right now,” or told that the ability to decide if, when, and how to have a family is a “niche” issue, or chastised for making unreasonable demands about not being forced by the government to stay pregnant against our will. We have hoped, and we have usually been disappointed. Sometimes, we have disappointed ourselves.

For the Democratic Party, the rejoinder to calls for action around Roe has usually been “not yet.” It’s not yet time for full-throated support of abortion rights; better stick with “safe, legal, and rare,” and concentrate on building a “big tent” so that anti-abortion Democrats feel welcome, even as women lawmakers of color have long made significant sacrifices to share their own abortion stories and called for the expansion and protection of abortion rights and access. But “not yet” says that the left must make endless compromises on abortion so that, when the time comes to really stand up for abortion, we’ll have the seats and the votes and the voters. Incredibly, it seems the time for this is still “not yet.”

For a reproductive rights movement mostly led by white, cisgender women, the rejoinder is usually “not you.” Not trans people, and not women of color, and not poor folks or young people. Unionization efforts have been quashed and calls for a racial reckoning gone unanswered as leaders have long fixated on maintaining the barest protections for Roe, treating the ruling as the ceiling, rather than the floor, in terms of protections for reproductive freedom.

Nationwide, the landscape is grim. Just 15 states have pursued affirmative expansions of and protections for abortion access in the absence of Roe; clinics there are now inundated with people from Texas and elsewhere traveling in search of care, if they can afford to. People in the South and the Midwest are routinely mocked and taunted by our supposedly “pro-choice” peers in abortion-friendly areas who think that, somehow, we can all abandon our homes and families and “just move.” Big, Beltway-centered reproductive advocacy organizations have often hoarded power away from grassroots and state-level advocates fighting on the front lines, even as those national organizations used alarm bells about the end of Roe to raise funds.

Meanwhile, the sheer scope of the efforts the Republican Party and the anti-abortion movement have made to regulate, restrict, and outlaw abortion can hardly be overstated. They have explored and exploited every angle, and even created new ones. They have approached this project with a singular, concerted focus, and ensured that their party’s lawmakers and officials at every level of government are in lockstep opposition to abortion rights and access.

Raising the flags again

Republicans (often with the support of anti-abortion Democrats) have implemented over 1,300 pieces of anti-abortion legislation since Roe; over 40 percent of those restrictions were proposed in the last ten years. In 2021, states implemented the most-ever abortion restrictions in a single year—over 100.

The breadth and depth of these laws is mind-boggling; we’re not talking about a thousand slightly different versions of the same thing. We’re talking about gestational bans, bans on certain abortion procedures, bans on medication abortion, “reason” bans built on sex- and race-selective abortion myths, bans on telemedicine, bans on funding for abortion, bans on care for young people, and bans on insurance coverage for abortion.

We’re also talking about restrictions and regulations—forced waiting periods, mandatory counseling, and the medically unnecessary targeted regulation of abortion providers—variously requiring clinics to operate as hospital-like ambulatory surgical centers and doctors to obtain hospital admitting privileges or conduct mandatory ultrasounds and make wildly duplicative reports on abortion complications, and limiting which medical providers may legally provide clinical care.

We’re also talking about re- and misdirection of funding—denying public dollars for breast exams and cancer screenings if they’re performed by an abortion provider or funneling taxpayer funds to deceptive anti-abortion “crisis pregnancy centers.” And then there are efforts to explicitly criminalize abortion and pregnancy loss: fetal personhood laws, fetal homicide laws, incorporating abortion into criminal homicide statutes or implementing the death penalty for people who have or provide abortion care.

And it’s not just legislative attacks on care. It’s city ordinances and extra-statutory regulations and a messaging machine that churns out ever more grotesque and preposterous lies about abortion care, from the “born alive” myth to fabrications around Planned Parenthood selling “baby parts.”

So you will really have to forgive me if I laugh or cry or both at the assertion that Democrats are on the verge of “overreacting” to the end of Roe and going too far in support of abortion rights, or that now is not the time to go all in on reproductive freedom, lest we show our hand. Hell, the big news in the 2020 Democratic primary was that most—but not all—candidates supported the almost laughably bare-minimum act of codifying Roe’s limited abortion protections into law. My goodness! Nearly 7 million Texans and our families are being denied abortions where we live, today, and I’m expected to believe that the Biden administration is using abortion to “distract” from other issues when the man has hardly said a single fucking thing about it?

It was only two years ago that Joe Biden announced he’d had a revelatory change of heart around the Hyde Amendment! The man has had nearly 50 years to think about it—50 years to ignore and dismiss all those flags raised by reproductive health, rights, and justice advocates.

It would be one thing if Biden’s views were reflective of a general public ambivalent about Roe and the right to abortion, but they aren’t. I’m sympathetic to people whose views on abortion have changed and evolved; I’ve been there myself. But in a moment when it is neither hyperbolic nor hysterical to say that the constitutionally protected right to abortion is facing elimination in a matter of weeks or months, we desperately need leaders who’ve already worked their shit out on the subject.

But here we are. Compromises and concessions have failed. It is time to give up the abortion politics of avoidance and embrace the politics of advocacy, agency, and affirmative support for expanding reproductive freedom.

So we are raising the flags again. We are begging Congress to pass the EACH Act and the Women’s Health Protection Act. We are demanding the repeal of the Hyde Amendment. We are teaching each other about safe self-managed abortion to ensure that coat-hangers and back alleys stay in the past. We are building support systems and legal and funding resources for people who are and will be criminalized and prosecuted for ending their own pregnancies, or experiencing pregnancy loss.

And we are warning that a fight that started over abortion will not stop with it. We do not want to say another “I told you so.”