By Laurine Viel
Donna is from Georgia. She was eight years old when her stepfather started to abuse her. After another abuse by her stepfather, Donna became pregnant. She was fifteen years old when this tragic event occured. She was scared to tell her mother that it was her stepfather’s and lied, saying it was her boyfriend’s. Donna could not fathom giving birth to a child, not only conceived by abuse but also by her mother’s husband : Donna’s stepfather. She therefore decided to abort. What else could she have done? What should she tell her child later? “My stepfather is both your grandfather and your biological father. Yes, and he sexually abused me from the age of eight to seventeen, when I was still a little girl.” All the questions that came to her mind, but also the answers, seemed baffling, each one more than the other. It is inconceivable for a young girl and a mother-to-be to imagine having to explain this situation to her child. A mother wants the best for her child. That is, to allow her child to grow by protecting him or her as much as possible from what could hurt and distress him or her, which is in Donna’s case impossible. Indeed, even before the child could be born, the conception that Donna experienced was a shattering and traumatic event for her. All the more so, since after the abortion Donna’s stepfather did not stop abusing her. In fact, he continued until she was seventeen years old. Donna’s story echoed in me when a month ago, the media outlet Politico published a document revealing that the Supreme Court had drafted a decision that would overturn the famous Roe v. Wade decision. This Supreme Court decision gave women safe and legal access to abortion and made abortion a constitutional right in 1973. Almost 50 years after Roe v. Wade; it is now time to stop restricting and challenging women’s rights.
In theory, equal rights for men and women are simple. As the first article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights”. From this point on, there should be no doubts or questioning of these rights. However, from a physiological point of view, only women can get pregnant and therefore have an abortion. The foetus exists inside a woman’s body, not a man’s. Because men do not get pregnant and to restore equality, it is thus the woman’s decision whether or not to have an abortion. If abortion rights are denied, then the woman’s freedom is restricted. We cannot let the Supreme Court justices, made up of a majority of men, decide for us – women. It is not one politician or government official’s decision. They act as if we, women, are heartless, irresponsible and incapable of making our own medical decisions. Our bodies will go through pregnancy and abortion as well; our voice must have more weight. Our body, our choices.
As a young woman of 20 years old, born in France, I have always known the possibility of having an abortion in complete safety. I never imagined that this fundamental right would possibly be taken away from me. Being privileged by my situation, by the country in which I grew up, I thought this right was inviolable. Innocently, it seemed impossible to me until then that countries allowing abortion could reverse their decision. I only thought possible that this right would be extended to many other countries, but not the other way around. What is even more striking and alarming is to think that it is the world’s leading power that will possibly reverse its decision and take a step backwards. A country that in the eyes of the rest of the world is a country of progress, a country that thinks big, a country of success, a country that makes people dream, a country of freedom. It is therefore very frightening because being the first world power, the USA are considered as a role model and the risk, if they decide to modify the right to abortion, is that other countries will follow example as they have always done. Only this time it will not have the same impact. This is not about the establishment of American shops or fast food chains in Europe or in any countries in the world. No, this is about a fundamental right that Simone Veil in France, in 1975, fought for too. In other countries, many women have also fought so that future generations will have more freedom. We, in 2022, do not want to go down that road again. Many women have already suffered too much and for them, we must preserve this legacy. Abortion must remain a right and as modern women, in 2022, we will fight and do everything we can to keep our abortion rights and have our voices heard.
For many women around the wolrd, abortion saved their lives at a time when pregnancy was not a viable option for them or their prospective child. As a woman, I hope to never have to undergo an abortion. However, if for whatever reasons I want to terminate the pregnancy, I hope that like Donna, I will be able to decide on my own what I want to do with my body because no one else should make that decision, but me. In this case, I am hoping that I will be allowed to make use of the fundamental right to an abortion.