opinion

'I had a guttural reaction to the US abortion news. It sets a dangerous precedent for Australia.'

If I fall pregnant, it's my uterus that grows. 

It's my fatigue and my morning sickness and my back pain. 

It's my mental health that grapples with this monumental shift.

My pain threshold forced to confront the trauma of childbirth. 

It's my vagina that gives birth. My vagina that tears. Or my abdomen that gets cut open while I am awake, should I choose or need a C-section. 

It's my postpartum journey. My prolapse. Or mastitis. Or postnatal depression. Or hair loss. Or incontinence. 

It's also my responsibility — this child who is born. I can give them up for adoption, but it doesn't negate any of what I have gone through. 

Or I keep them. Raise them. Love them. But if I don't have the funds, support or means to do that 'well,' what kind of mother am I?

It's all my fault for having sex. Not his. Never his. 

It's my body. But according to American lawmakers, it's not my choice whether I go through this life-altering experience, it's theirs. 

I don't live in America, but I had a guttural reaction to the news this week that the landmark 1973 legal decision that has long protected the right to abortion in the US, could very well be overturned.

A draft ruling of the decision was leaked to news outlet Politico. It has since been confirmed as authentic.

WATCH: US Senator Elizabeth Warren's reaction to the news...


Video via The National News/Twitter

Guttural because, how? How are we still debating what women can do with their own bodies in 2022? 

Pro-life campaigners tell us it's murder. That every foetus has a right to life. 

But does that mean it's murder if a man masturbates in a tissue? Or wears a condom? Was it murder when I got a Mirena inserted in my uterus? 

Because all of those examples have ended potential life. If a cluster of cells is what defines a ‘person’ then a man’s wet dream is murder. 

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See? It's nonsensical. 

But this debate is not just happening in America. 

It was only in March 2021 that South Australia became the final Australian jurisdiction to partially decriminalise abortion.

It was only decriminalised in New South Wales in October 2019.

And there are still hurdles that remain in many states and territories. In many instances, these limits have been described by the Australian Medical Association as "unnecessary and insulting," or by the South Australian Law Reform Institute as "undermining the autonomy of women," according to The Conversation.

We can't throw stones from our glasshouse. We also have politicians and leaders sitting in positions of power vehemently against abortion rights. 

Our own Assistant Minister for Women Amanda Stoker participated in the annual Cherish Life Queensland rally in Brisbane on Saturday. LNP Senator Matt Canavan and One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts were also there.

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Which is why what's happening in America is so devastating. It sets a precedent. It shows how fragile political systems can be if the right (or wrong) voices hold a majority.

I've never had an abortion before. But I would have without question when I was younger. I'd already made that decision in my head when I started having sex in my late teens. I wasn't ready emotionally or financially back then to bring a child into this world. I hadn't made my mistakes, travelled the world or worked out what I wanted to do with my life. What kind of person I wanted to be tethered to forever, via a child. 

And no that doesn't mean I wasn't ready to have sex. Exploring pleasure and intimacy with others and learning what I did and didn't want in a sexual partner was one thing. Signing up to the life-altering experience of motherhood against my will was another. 

If a man finds himself in a car accident, a car he chose to drive, should he reject medical treatment should he crash? 

Ludicrous. 

Abortion is healthcare. But because it's healthcare tied to women's rights, apparently it's different. 

Abortion promotes a culture in which human life is disposable. All this focus on a life that doesn't exist yet, with complete disregard for the life — the living, breathing human — who doesn't want to be pregnant. 

During the COVID pandemic, the phrase 'my body my choice' was hijacked and used to condemn mandatory vaccinations. 

Vaccinations rely on herd immunity to work properly. It is something we can work together as a community to achieve to stop people from getting sick. 

But pregnancy and giving birth via the organs in my body: that affects me and me alone. It doesn't affect my local barista or my colleagues or my immune-compromised friends. 

Roe v Wade has been in place for 50 years in the US. The 1973 landmark decision by the US Supreme Court ruled that a state law that banned abortion was unconstitutional. 

Now we're looking at a reality where 13 states are watching greedily for the court to unveil its final decision. They've passed so-called "trigger laws", designed to come into effect if Roe is overturned. 

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Women could go to prison for a decade in some states. They could be fined up to $100,000 in others. 

Many states have no exceptions in said trigger laws should pregnancy be the result of rape or incest.

This is terrifying. 

If the reversal of access to this basic human right is on the precipice of happening in America, versions of it could very well happen here. The NSW debate only passed 26-14. It was the third-longest debate in Upper House history. 

It's 2022 and we're still debating what women can do with their own bodies. 

We're still seeing panels like this deciding what women and people with uteruses get to do with their lives:

We know statistically that banning abortion doesn't stop abortion. It only forces people to seek out unsafe procedures. 

We know we're still a long way from true equality in this world. But instead of dismantling the discrimination that has allowed it to fester for so long, decisions such as this are simply reinstating it. Reinforcing it. 

Make no mistake, reversing Roe v Wade is a devastating step backwards for women and girls. 

Abortion is a human right. It's healthcare.

And it's none of your business should I decide to get one.

You can keep up to date with Gemma Bath's articles here, or follow her on Instagram, @gembath.

Feature image: Twitter/Anna Moneymaker/Getty/ABC/The Conversation/The Australian/Mamamia.

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