lifestyle

This is what happens when desperate women can't access abortion.

Woodrow Wilson High School

At a Texas high school last week,  local police were called to the high school after a staff member found a “deceased human fetus” in the rubbish bin of a second floor bathroom.

Police reports claim they have not found a ‘suspect’ but what can be assumed is that a woman – or more likely a teenage girl – somewhere on the school campus had given birth to the fetus before throwing it in the bin and going back to class.

Police at the scene.

According to The Daily Mail and American news channel Fox 4, police are reviewing video of the building where the bathroom is located and talking to teachers and students for information.

There are 1600 students at the school, so it has understandably been difficult for police to identify the mother. School counsellors have been brought in to help students, families and the broader community “deal” with the situation while the police told CNN they are hopeful the female will come forward.

That is the story the world news is telling. But the  story we want to tell is one of one what can only be described as an abhorrent violation of women’s rights and one which has left a teenage girl in an impossible situation. The question must be asked: If this hadn’t happened in Texas, if the girl had had proper, safe access to abortion…. would it have happened at all? Access to abortions are highly restricted in the state of Texas. The Texas Anti-Abortion Law HB-2 has been labelled as one of the “harshest anti-abortion measures” in the United States. This from The Huff Po:

The state bans abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, restricts doctors from prescribing women an abortion pill to take at home, and requires women to get an ultrasound before an abortion and wait 24 hours between having an in-person consultation and getting the procedure.

In recent months, there have been moves by Republican lawmakers in the state of Texas to restrict access to terminations even further. Under these proposals, all abortion clinics in Texas would have to meet “the same building standards as ambulatory surgical centres.” This from The Guardian: 

ASCs handle higher-risk outpatient surgical procedures and frequently employ general anesthesia, which is not necessary for abortions. Such centers must adhere to specific building code requirements, such as wider hallways and different ventilation systems, than most clinics currently employ. Such a requirement would be prohibitively costly to implement for many clinics.

With these kind of laws in place, is it any wonder that a teenager feels her only option is to abandon her foetus in a rubbish bin at her high school? In such a polarising environment it’s not hard to imagine how scary it would be to a be a young woman with an unwanted pregnancy. Because for a teenager who is living in a society that tells her abortion is evil and wrong, and that that having a baby out of wedlock is also wrong, what other options are there? For the child who gave birth to this fetes and fled the scene, this was not about choice. There was no choice in her eyes. It was about fear and desperation. As Lindy West from Jezebel so perfectly put it: 

Fuck Texas; fuck anti-choicers; fuck “prayer” being part of a police investigation; fuckabstinence-centered sex education; and fuck leaving women in crisis (or, in this case, children in crisis!) with no viable options, letting them suffer alone, and then treating them like criminals for doing what they have to do. 

It’s only when access to abortion is safe and legal that it can BECOME rare. Because information, education and acceptance is what gives women power to prevent pregnancy in the first place. If you’d like to understand more about abortion law in Australia, the Australian Medical Journal has a great explainer, state by state.

What do you think of the Texan anti-abortion laws?

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