Nothing has inspired more rage in me recently than this piece by the BBC. This is not necessarily going to be a particularly popular post, as most of my family and my oldest friends from home are anti-abortion, but this kind of thing makes me SO ANGRY.
Firstly, the fact that anyone thinks it is acceptable to question a stranger on their way in to a medical building is absolutely abhorrent to me. The picketing of abortion clinics is one of the most obnoxious things you can do. Whilst free speech is vital to a healthy democracy, the cost of that is taking responsibility for the impact your words have. Does anyone really think that harassing a woman outside the clinic is likely to change her mind? It is nothing other than bullying to cause shame and guilt, something that already abounds in the situation. It is not helpful, constructive or likely to result in anything other than anger.
My main issue with the anti-abortion movement is the fact that the people who legislate against abortion also legislate against welfare and benefits. I do not think anyone can claim to be 'pro-life' who then actively attempts to prevent those deep in poverty from maintaining the most basic standard of living. To me, it would seem obvious that if you want a woman to become a mother rather than have a termination then ensuring financial stability would be the first step. Instead, the anti-abortion movement in the US asks woman to become a mother, and completely self-sufficient financially at the same time. Mississippi has a high unemployment rate (9.1% compared to the national average of 7.8% across the US.) In some of the counties, the unemployment rate sits as high as 18.4% (source) Finding employment whilst pregnant is near impossible.
For a woman with no financial security, remaining pregnant with no welfare to fall back on is astonishingly difficult. I'm so lucky that I will never have to make these kinds of decisions, but people do, and legislating abortion clinics into oblivion is irresponsible in my opinion. Instead, terminations in Mississippi and the other states (North Dakota, South Dakota and Arkansas) with only one remaining abortion clinic are actively trying to prevent safe, legal abortions are doing a disservice to woman. The rich will be able to afford to travel out of state, the most vulnerable will be forced to look for illegal, unregulated and unsafe options, or to have children they cannot care for and do not want..
The fact that these laws continually hit the poorest in society reeks of elitism, exactly the type of government right-wing citizens complain loudly about. Essentially, the right-wing in Mississippi is dictating the options for the most disenfranchised. Those with money and mobility are exempt. Injustice makes me angry. Injustice perpetrated by those with a 'righteous' agenda and sense of moral superiority angers me the most. The fact this has essentially been undertaken by stealth angers me the most. There has been no referendum or outright vote on banning abortions, which would be unconstitutional under Roe vs Wade. Instead, small changes to operating legislation have made it near impossible for clinics to operate. This is dishonest, plain and simple.
I'm going to go and have a coffee to calm down, and be thankful I don't have to make these kind of decisions. I'd love to know what you think...