What happens when 25 male politicians in Alabama get together to vote on a woman’s right to an abortion? You end up with a disturbingly outdated law that galvanises women (and men) across the globe.
Alabama legislation now states that doctors who perform an abortion can be punished by up to 99 years in prison. The only exception is if the pregnancy is life-threatening to the mother, not for rape or incest.
The legislation has saturated the news cycle, with the common thread being ‘what gives male politicians the right to control what a woman does with her own body?’.
It is a fundamental human right for individuals to make decisions about their own body and for women, specifically, their reproductive function without discrimination. Only a woman has a uterus, only a woman can grow a foetus, and only a woman can decide to terminate a pregnancy. To make abortion illegal is taking that right away, and it exemplifies a lack of equality that women already experience in various corners of life.
In a similar vein to the #metoo movement, now #youknowme is being spread all over social media platforms at a viral rate, with women sharing their stories and rallying support for the right to have an abortion.
Actress and presenter, Busy Phillips, who started the #youknowme movement spoke out on her talk show Busy Tonight about her own experience having an abortion.
“I had an abortion when I was 15 years old, and I’m telling you this because I’m genuinely really scared for women and girls all over the country,” she said.
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Yesterday, the governor of Georgia signed a bill effectively banning abortion in that state. Georgia is the 6th state to pass such a bill and there are 11 states where similar legislation is pending. I get why people feel strongly about abortion(I really do-read my book), BUT I also know that women and their doctors are in the best position to make informed decisions about what is best for them. Nobody else. I spoke about my abortion last night on my show because I won't be silent while women's rights are stripped away.
A woman may choose to have an abortion for many reasons, including contraception failure, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, forced against her will or coerced into sex, personal beliefs, financially unable to support a child or it’s unsafe to do so. But does that matter if the fundamentals of humanity are that we have a right to make decisions over our own bodies?
According to Children by Choice, a Brisbane-based non-for-profit organisation, an estimated 51 per cent of Australian women have had an unplanned pregnancy and one in three Australian women will have an abortion.
Abortion is sad, yes. No woman makes the decision to have an abortion lightly. No woman wishes that for herself. But there are circumstances, sometimes entirely out of the realm of control, that pregnancy eventuates, and the right to decide on our future should be in our hands.
Despite what these 25 men would have us believe, having an abortion is nothing a woman should be ashamed of. It takes strength. We should not see abortion as selfish or criminal.
As women, together we need to speak out about abortion just as society has done for mental health.
We need to shift the stigma around abortion and, at this troubling point in time, it is only our voices that we have to spark change. They need to be heard, united.