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Reproductive Rights Reflection

She rides a bus for four hours to Albuquerque with $5,000 in her wallet, checks into her motel and unpacks her suitcase for the next three days.

She walks past a white picket fence wondering when she’ll ever fit the Caucasian, heterosexual, married, middle-class, “perfect mother” stereotype.

She stumbles past the moat of “moral” picketers, perfectly positioned to hold her attention hostage. They don’t know if her positive test is a result of rape or incest or if it is putting her life at risk. It doesn’t matter.

She steps into the clinic lobby and looks at the downcast faces of both women and men in the room, sensing a cloud of shame, guilt and fear.

She doesn’t know what to do.

She doesn’t know that the binary of pro-life and pro-choice doesn’t even begin to scratch the complex surface of reproductive health. She lives in a world where stigma and lack of resources give the artifice of choice.

She doesn’t know that there are infinite fake abortion clinics that exist for the sole purpose of delaying care and that they spout false ideas of requiring labor inductions or caesarian sections to terminate a pregnancy.

She doesn’t know that in neighboring states she would need parental consent or that she would be forced to stare at her fetal ultrasound 24 hours before terminating.

She doesn’t know that, all over the United States, there are rooms full of Henry Wades and the like, designing TRAP and rape insurance laws.

She doesn’t know that in Chile, health providers are encouraged to remove intrauterine devices without consent and that young children are taught that contraception is synonymous with abortion.

She doesn’t know that, globally and locally, women are being charged for homicide when terminating, falsely imprisoned for miscarrying and accused of adultery when raped. She’s unaware that she can relate to these women who are made to believe they deserve this criminalization.

She doesn’t know that some politicians place no value on her life or that the government won’t pay for a simple procedure, but will spend funds on a public defender for an unborn mass of cells. She can’t imagine that, in at least four Latin American countries, a woman whose life is endangered by pregnancy is still by law unable to get an abortion.

She accepts that her body is property of the church, the state and the public.

She doesn’t know that, while more women die from childbirth than abortion, criminalized abortions are the third leading cause of maternal mortality. It never crossed her mind that women resort to coat hangers, questionable herbs and pills and rubber tubes that inject into rather than evacuate the womb.

She doesn’t know that Dr. George Tiller survived a firebombing and gunshot wounds in both arms, only to finally be murdered and martyred in a church for being a protector of reproductive rights. She’d be shocked to find that in some states, there’s a movement to register abortion providers as sex offenders.

She doesn’t know that annually there are 120,000 children adopted and over 650,000 children that spend time in foster care in the United States.

She doesn’t know that one-third of women in the United States have an abortion at some point in their lives.

She doesn’t know that women all over the world are gathering to riot and root for her, to #standwithPP and #shoutyourabortion, to fight the stigma, to create a platform for the thoughts of minorities. She hasn’t seen the sea of pink peacefully marching, several generations of women standing alongside one another.

She doesn’t know the world leaders at the United Nations believe in her.

She doesn’t know that one day she could fulfill her dreams of becoming a doctor or go on to be the next #notoriousRBG advocating for a woman’s sovereign right to her own body.

She doesn’t know that, just on the other side of the door, there is a beautiful room filled with the smell of eucalyptus, sounds of water trickling and dimmed lighting dedicated to putting her mind at rest. That next to that is a room full of grateful and relieved women looking forward to the rest of their lives.

She knows only the society we live in now.

She doesn’t know she has a choice, a voice.

She remains silent.

She leaves.

She passes the white picket fence for the last time.

She becomes a mother.

Karen Chong Karen Chong (1 Posts)

Contributing Writer

University of Rochester School of Medicine

Karen grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, studied Molecular Environmental Biology with a Theater minor in Berkeley, and worked for a few years in SF before bursting the California bubble for the snowy landscape and collegial medical school of Rochester, NY. She enjoys snuggling animals, trying to conquer her fear of heights in the great outdoors, and empowering women.