Butterfly on window pane

Roe vs. Wade was overturned. I’ve been in shock about it. It compounds the many moments of shock I’ve had since November 4th, 2016, when Donald Trump became president of our country.

I moved through that day and those that followed in utter disbelief. I felt betrayed by my own countrymen and women. I cried for the setbacks that would surely come for women and people of color. For the future that I could imagine unfolding that just days before did not seem remotely possible. It seemed like we were returning to a 1950s kind of misogyny and racism that would be not just tolerated but encouraged.

And here we are.

Our Supreme Court has ended a fundamental human right – the right to reproductive freedom. Why do I care so much? Because I am the one in four women who have an abortion by the age of 45.

At 18, in my first year of college, I found myself pregnant. I definitely wasn’t ready to become a mother. In the days following my positive pregnancy test at Planned Parenthood, I was reeling. I certainly wasn’t going to talk to anyone about my predicament. I had been raised Catholic and the church was clear on its position about pre-marital sex. I was brimming with guilt and shame. All of which kept me silent.

The same guilt and shame that keeps millions of women silent.

The father of the baby didn’t hesitate. Two years older than me, he was clear he didn’t want a child. He made fast arrangements for an abortion and came up with the $200 cash to pay for it.

Now, 42 years later, I reflect on this event in my young life as pivotal. I waited a full ten years and finished college to become a mother by choice. I had three children by the time I was 33 and love being a mom. I earned a Master’s degree and started my own business, which I still run to this day.

Having a child at 18 would have changed my life. I can imagine I would have dropped out of college and been shamed in our culture as an unwed mother. I’m so grateful I lived in a world where having an abortion was a legal choice.  

So, what is this issue really about? It’s about women’s safety. It’s also about individual autonomy and choice — especially about one’s own body. I believe that every woman is an expert in their own lives. I don’t know what’s right for another person’s life, only my own.

So, how do we move forward?

The key at this precipice is to stay awake, to stay in the conversation. To not give up hope or collapse into despair. Of course, those are natural emotional responses to what we are embroiled in, but don’t dwell overlong. Your outrage must be channeled into productive action.

We will need it. Remember that stat: One in four women will have an abortion before the age of 45. It may be you, or a beloved friend, co-worker, sister or daughter. Let’s do what we can to ensure it’s not a back-alley, illegal and life-threatening procedure.

Change starts with simple actions. Donate to organizations and funds dedicated to supporting women’s reproductive rights, such as Planned Parenthood and The United State of Women’s Reproductive Justice Hub.

Be respectful. Don’t hurl slurs or damning judgements at those who think differently than you. It won’t make a difference and will certainly make things worse. As Adam Grant wrote in his article, How to Argue About Abortion, “I care about building a country where people can disagree without disrespect, because that’s how we learn and grow.

I stand in rejecting the decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade. I stand with all people and their right to reproductive freedom, as a fundamental human right. And I will stand to restore this right.