Words by Emily Fuller
I am sure most of you know why I am sitting here, with the backlight of a blank screen not at all assisting me in articulating the language I need in response to the of livelihood of those requiring the access to abortion after last week. I feel desperate and devastated as my stomach constantly churns at the thought of the war that has ensued on our fellow women, transgender and non-conforming genders. These are people who have been left to claw and fight ruthlessly for their basic entitlement to the self-determination of their own bodies.
For those of you who are not fully aware of the events of last week in Alabama, a bill that sought to prohibit abortions in almost all cases of pregnancy was passed with overwhelming support by the Republican-controlled legislature. The single exception being for carefully considered cases where a woman’s health is at critical risk, but lawmakers quickly rejected the proposal to add exceptions for instances of rape and incest. And they are not stopping here – they made motions towards the Supreme Court to overturn pre-existing case law that acknowledges a constitutional right for a woman to terminate her pregnancy. Absolutely, utterly terrifying, isn’t it?
In the light of fourth-wave feminism, discourse surrounding abortion has been contentious as we continually battle with the dichotomy of pro-life and the rights in which one has over their own body. There has been a greater demand for the empowerment of those identifying with womanhood, creating a space for them to feel comfortable in reclaiming themselves and their bodies from a very rigid power structure: the patriarchy. In response, those at the peak of this structure – namely white men – have been left to scramble in maintaining their very comfortable seat at the head of the table of society. Enter the pro-life argument – an argument which establishes the inglorious irony that aims to nurture the life of the unborn at the cost of another’s life and wellbeing. Whilst I respect the views of those who identify as pro-life, I will absolutely not tolerate their actions to strip the rights of someone else, one who does not hold the same belief system. It would be truly wonderful if pro-life did in fact, acknowledge all life.
I am sure some of you may not share the same sense of urgency or heartbreak as I do in light of this situation. My eyes have seen and ears have heard a lot of phrases to the summation of “thank god I live in Australia”. To some extent, they are not wrong, we are incredibly fortunate to live in a nation where we are rightfully afforded our autonomy over our own bodies and wellbeing – though we still have some progress to make. I watched my mother battle with the turmoil of terminating a pregnancy whilst having to navigate through a relationship of domestic violence and emotional abuse. She, unlike others, had the love and support of those around her, as well as the accessibility she needed to make her own decision for having an abortion. And so she should have, that sort of access and freedom of autonomy should be the expectation for anyone seeking it, whether it’s here or anywhere else in the world. Just maybe, we should begin dredging up that sand of ignorance many of us bury our heads in. Yes, this may not be affecting us directly, but this very event has demonstrated to us that it very well could happen to us. This is our reality too. These are our women too. Just because we have more rights and liberties it does not mean that we should not be fighting for other people of our world to claim their freedom too.
I am going to finish off here and leave some questions for anyone reading this in which you might like to meditate on – what about a man’s responsibility for unwanted or unplanned pregnancies?
Has he used his initiative to take precautions in the prevention of pregnancy?
Has he discussed his attitudes and views on abortions before proceeding in sexual activity with a partner?
Didn’t think so.
Well then, to the men in this world who are making it messier than it already is – I implore to inquire, where do you get off thinking that is in fact your god-forsaken right to utilise someone’s body as your personal storage container? Please riddle me that.
And so, I stand in front a mirror. Me watching me watching me as I take inventory. I have arms and legs, fingers and toes. I wear a pair of glassy eyes the colour of turned soil after the rain falls. A chin and earlobes and wrists and knees and leg hair. Also other things that the eye cannot see – a brain, heart, lungs. A uterus. They are mine, and yet they are not me. I will not be your mere vessel of the reproductive organs you need to procreate. I will not, and I will fight for the rest of them.
Art by B. Peppers