I had to think about it longer than I thought I would. Through reasons unknown to me, several of my recent articles in The Seattle Collegian have referenced abortion reform. Apparently, even though the most I’ve ever done is a march in solidarity and accompanied loved ones to clinics, this one hit hard for me. Not one. Assault after assault on liberty, autonomy, and freedom. Women, possible rape and incest victims, being criminalized. Actual children being penalized. The people that are trying to help them are being threatened with the same fate. My partner asked, after one of my articles, why I kept referring to abortion laws, abortion restrictions, abortion. They said every time they had marched or stood in these cases, they talked about reproductive rights. Reproductive care is essential; it’s a right, but calling it that can that sound weird. We don’t talk about cancer treatment as a right, we just treat it like something not everyone can afford. Affordability aside, we treat bodies, especially female bodies, as somehow less autonomous. This may be more information than you wanted, but I am probably infertile. I haven’t tested that claim, but I don’t want to; even if my body were capable of carrying a child to term, I would be emotionally unable to do so. And there is a part of me that is so angry; when I was 19, I asked for a tubal ligation. My doctor told me he would need to petition the Catholic hospital he worked with, and I consented. Then I read what he said to them. He said I was too emotionally fragile to be trusted with a pregnancy. That hurt. But, they passed it through. To have minor surgery, I had to be crazy. I happened to move a week later, and my partner at the time got a vasectomy. What for me would have been surgery, my allergy to most antibiotics flaring up, and my inadequate response to sedation, was only a brief afternoon of discomfort for my male partner. Which still misses the point. I plan to study linguistics, so when asked about my choice of words, I think hard, because words have power. Reproductive health is important. We need birth control and Plan B. Yet even there is a conflict; I say I need birth control because it makes for regular periods and hormone regulation. It is taboo to say I want to have sex without fear of pregnancy. Worse is to say I want to have sex. For centuries, female-identifying humans have been told we can’t want that, but watch a Viagra or Cialis commercial and check if reduced blood pressure is the selling point. We know what it’s for, but women don’t get the same credit. I happen to have an IUD, so I only need to have this conversation every five years, and every time it is painful. “You sure you want an IUD? Think of the children?!?” I remember a meeting in my early twenties. I remember being told we weren’t going to use the coathanger anymore. It was morbid and archaic. It was disgusting. It was a tale of a hidden history that we didn’t need to tell anymore. That was ten years ago. So in answer to my partner and everyone else, we say abortion now. Reproductive health is essential, but I’ve never seen protestors outside a vasectomy clinic. I most certainly am pro-choice; I want everyone to the right to chose and of course, I would prefer if abortion wasn’t the only option for so many. Maybe if we righted a whole lot of wrongs culturally it wouldn’t even be necessary, but this is where we’re at. I understand why groups like NARAL and others have chosen to use the pro-choice label, but in the current climate, I am taking my words back. We call it what it is. Right now, abortion is being attacked. Say it with me; abortion. Because it does not and cannot stop there. The rest of our rights come next. Language is powerful, and we have the power to chose our words. Abortion is a bad word, and so we should use it. One in four women will have one, and that means one in four women you meet have been through this. I believe in ground level fights. Use your words.
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