Opinion: Two years after Roe v. Wade was overturned, I am stronger and angrier

Opinion: Two years after Roe v. Wade was overturned, I am stronger and angrier

FILE - Abortion-rights protesters cheer at a rally following the United States Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, federally protected right to abortion, outside the state capitol in Lansing, Mich., June 24, 2022. Voters in several states have used the citizen initiative process to protect access to abortion and other reproductive rights in the two years since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a nationwide right to abortion. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

By Lillian Cheesman

June 24, 2024

If they were going to ban abortion, who knew what else they were going to start banning? 

Two years ago, the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, and I soon found myself at my doctor’s office, waiting to get my tubes removed. The procedure had always been in the back of my mind, as a precaution against ovarian cancer, but the ruling prompted a new immediacy: If they were going to ban abortion, who knew what else they were going to start banning? 

Were they just looking for women to breed? My husband echoed my concerns and scheduled a vasectomy. Both our doctors let us know that appointments for these procedures were backed up due to the sudden increase in popularity. This is the grim reality of living in a country that attacks women’s bodily autonomy and our constitutional right to choose. We are deciding to undergo non-medically necessary procedures to protect ourselves from our own government.

The majority of Americans support legal abortions, so how did we end up here? How on earth did we end up with a radical Supreme Court majority, in vitro fertilization (IVF) under threat, total abortion bans in 14 states and severe restrictions in several others, and nearly the entire South cut off from access? 

My niece is 10 years old. She wants to be an astronaut someday, and I’ll be damned if something gets in the way of her dreams. But in the world we currently live in, with 10 states banning abortions with no exceptions for rape or incest, her future could be taken from her if she lives in the wrong state. 

How did we end up with women and girls taking full accountability for pregnancy when clearly, men are involved, sometimes without our consent? How are we not to see this as an attack on women when our economic security is tied to our reproductive autonomy? Access to abortion increases women’s participation in the US labor market which leads to overall economic growth. In simple terms, if my niece has a right to choose, she can become an astronaut, and we all benefit because America gets another astronaut. 

Unfortunately, with states like Florida enacting an extreme six-week abortion ban, too many women and girls will have to overcome even more obstacles to build the life they want. What used to take an average of 22 minutes to drive to obtain an abortion after six weeks — a period in which many women don’t even realize they are pregnant — now takes over nine hours, because nearly the entire South has cut off access. 

For women in that region, this means taking off work, paying for food, gas, and possibly a hotel overnight, as well as making arrangements to have someone watch their young children at home. Women’s economic success depends on our ability to make our own personal decisions about our bodies. Thirty-six percent of women of reproductive age live in a state with a six-week abortion ban. That’s more than a third of us who may be forced to find the time and money to travel out-of-state for an abortion. 

My mother suffers from Alzheimer’s, and there are some days I’m glad she’s not lucid enough to understand how terrible things have gotten for women in this country. She’d be spitting mad. After everything she’s seen and been through, she would be devastated at this reversal of women’s human rights. 

The Biden-Harris administration has repeatedly called on Congress to restore the protections of Roe v. Wade in federal law and secure our fundamental freedoms, but the Trump-led MAGA Republicans and Supreme Court justices continue to bulldoze over the will of the people. They think they can decide how Americans should live, but we have a voice, and we can stand up to their attempts to control us and our bodies. 

My procedure to get my tubes removed was me taking back that control. It may look different for everyone, but we can all stand up to their tyranny. We’ve got to — our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers fought for our liberation. And little girls everywhere are looking to us to fix their bleak future. 

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