TWH – Roe v. Wade significantly impacted people on a national scale, but it’s critical not to lose sight of the deeply personal ways that the loss of Roe v. Wade is and will have. To better understand the profoundly destabilizing repercussions of overturning this decision, which stood for 49 years, we spoke with several people who shared their personal stories and thoughts.
MistressPrime and two other of her six siblings entered the adoption system. She and her sister were babies at the time, and her older brother, who is black, was in grade school. She says that her younger brother spent two years in foster care.
MistressPrime already had an older sibling when her mother gave birth to her in the late 1960s, before the Roe v Wade decision in 1973. Her mother was in an abusive relationship, and MistressPrime feels strongly that if the choice of abortion had been available to her mother, she would have chosen it. “She very much didn’t want me and certainly didn’t wish to be tied to her abuser. She was a teenager.”
After making her way from Hawaii to the mainland, MistressPrime’s birth mother ended up living on the streets. When she went into labor, she walked into the nearest hospital, gave birth, and then as soon as the hospital allowed her to leave, she did so. MistressPrime explains that the pain of being left behind has stayed with her all her life. Many in the adoption community have similarly painful and devastating stories.
She cautions against falling back on the overburdened adoption and foster care systems to care for babies and children. There are currently around 108,000 children waiting to be adopted, and on average, children wait more than three years. More than 11 percent wait longer than five years. And within the adoption system, inequalities exist. Both prospective adoptive parents and social workers tend to discriminate against darker-skinned children in the adoption system. Furthermore, it is less expensive to adopt darker-skinned children than lighter-skinned children.
“For those who think adoption is the great catchall for the children born and unwanted… don’t. It absolutely is not. We already have too many children waiting for someone to adopt them and many who will never be adopted. And within the adopted community, there are also many who don’t believe adoptions should happen at all. Many of us have horror stories. I myself am one of the lucky few to have been adopted, at all, especially when my genetics put me in the lowest percentage of children adopted.”
However, MistressPrime has been and remains staunchly pro-choice, stating, “Despite the fact that I could have been aborted if it had been legal then, I do not have bad feelings about it. I wouldn’t know differently, would I?”
Personal choice for MistressPrime meant that she knew her choice was less likely to include abortion as an option for herself. Even when the one time she was pregnant was as a result of a rape, she did not choose abortion for herself. MistressPrime felt that her personal choices shouldn’t be imposed on others making their own difficult choices.
She told the TWH, “Women should have body autonomy. Why should any body of government be able to tell us what we can or cannot do with regard to a safe medical procedure? They think they’ll stop abortions. They won’t. They’ve only ensured that people will be more desperate in their actions, and abortions will still happen, just not as many safe ones.”
While Nebraska does not have a trigger law to immediately fall into place, the legislature has considered a special session on the matter.
As recently as April of 2022, abortion rights backers were able to block the passage of a trigger law, and there are concerns that enough abortion-rights supporters would stymie another effort to pass more restrictive laws than the ones in place currently. However, Nebraska has a unicameral legislative body, and the trigger law failed to pass by two votes despite having the support of the majority of lawmakers.
Nebraska is one seat short of a Republican supermajority currently. But many activists worry that blocking trigger laws in states like Nebraska may ultimately prove ineffectual if the Supreme Court and Congress continue clearing the path toward a federal ban.
Gray, a trans man and lifelong resident of Nebraska, worries for his loved ones.
“I have concerns about people I care for being put into situations where they are unable to choose for themselves because everyone should have the right to choose,” he said.
Gray continued, “In my beliefs with my gods and goddesses they’ve taught me that in the end, it is your own personal choice to life. They may guide me as best as they can, but that choice is what matters. It’s important. Freedom to choose. In this ‘land of the free,’ it sure isn’t looking very free to its people.”
Current abortion laws in Nebraska allow abortion up to the 22nd week of pregnancy. There are two municipal exceptions for Hays Center and Blue Hill, both of which outlawed all abortions through city ordinances. People seeking abortions already must undergo counseling and a 24-hour waiting period before they can undergo the procedure.
In addition, there are six reservations in Nebraska at this time. Roger Trudell, the chairperson of the Santee Sioux Nation, has stated that at this time, there are no plans to open an abortion clinic on reservation land.
They follow federal abortion guidelines, allowing abortions only for incidences of rape or incest and if it has become a matter of life and death for the pregnant person. These federal guidelines stem from the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits using federal funds for most abortion services.
The future also concerns Gray as he considers life choices he may want to take down the road. If Nebraska were to successfully pass an anti-abortion bill, he does not envision remaining there, even though he has always lived there.
“People may say that I don’t have a say in the matter, but I also have that reproductive system and that matters to me. I should have a right to say what I can do with this body. I’m not an incubator, and to reduce someone down to that is outrageous,” Gray said.
He went on to say, “If I do decide to physically have children and something goes wrong with the pregnancy, I want to have the availability to get help with it and not be forced to carry something that’ll kill me or is already dead.”
The future is uncertain for the youngest generation with the reversal of Roe v Wade. On July 7, 2022, the Democratic governor of North Carolina signed an executive order to maintain access to abortion and reproductive healthcare services.
Not only does the order instruct law enforcement to uphold laws prohibiting anyone from blocking access to care, but it also instructs Cabinet Agencies that they are not to cooperate with other states’ investigations regarding whether someone has gone to North Carolina for reproductive care. Cabinet Agencies are those that are either part of the Governor’s Office or are headed by members of the Governor’s Cabinet.
State agencies are also not allowed to send pregnant employees to states for work that have restrictions on healthcare, such as a ban on abortion.
Since the Roe v. Wade reversal, the North Carolina governor’s office has acknowledged a significant increase in the number of people coming from out of state for reproductive care.
However, Republicans had a strong hand in drawing recent redistricting maps. Despite the large metropolitan areas that tend to lean Democratic, many fear North Carolina’s assembly is heading for a Republican supermajority that could override the governor’s orders.
Keaghen, who is preparing to enter high school in North Carolina expressed some of her concerns about living in the state and continued access to reproductive healthcare, “As a teenage girl, the Roe v. Wade ruling has made me have a lot of thoughts. It has changed my perspective on where I want to live when I am older and what states I feel comfortable having a child in. I am worried this will affect me or other girls my age.”
She continued, “It causes fear of having children. If I needed help with a miscarriage or other issues that would need a medical abortion to help with my baby, I am scared it won’t be available to me, people with uteruses, or future children. The denial of care could cause death to me or even other mothers. I guess my big question is, why are we creating more damage to mothers and children?”
Although Mikaela is a permanent resident of Canada, where abortion is legal and receives public funding, she currently lives in Colorado, as do many of her family members and friends.
Colorado’s governor recently signed an executive order into law similar to the one signed by North Carolina’s governor. In fact, Colorado is one of seven states that places no restrictions on abortions, and the legislature and voters have repeatedly rejected bills that sought to restrict or outlaw it.
For Mikaela, the Roe v. Wade reversal adds an additional layer of fear. Due to issues surrounding her mother’s pregnancy and Mikaela’s birth, she is concerned about her health and wellbeing if she should become pregnant in a post-Roe future.
Mikaela told TWH, “Experiencing pregnancy is different for each person, be it complications, quality of life, or other internal and external factors for every individual. I was a HELLP (Hemolysis, Elevated Liver Enzymes, and Low Platelets) baby; my mother developed a severe case of preeclampsia that evolved into a life-threatening variant for the two of us.”
She explained her concerns over the potential impact of possibly experiencing the same health issues her mother did, “While no clear mode of inheritance has been established, it is currently a cause of my hesitancy to become pregnant. It terrifies me knowing that within the States, at any point my pregnancy was to take a turn for the worse, there would be a chance I would be unable to have access to a life-saving procedure.”
Mikaela stated that access to abortion services was not her motivation for becoming a permanent resident of Canada. Still, Mikaela says that several friends in states where abortion is banned have reached out to her about their fears. Some have asked how she moved to Canada and became a permanent resident. The lack of bodily autonomy that many young women experience worries her.
She went on to relate an experience one of her friends had, “After the ban had been passed in her state, one friend even attempted to be sterilized through tubal ligation. She was denied under the guise of being too young and having plenty of time to decide whether she wanted children. To be denied bodily autonomy, and then be further denied while attempting to attain safety and peace of mind, is abhorrent and infuriating.”
Denying women access to procedures that would result in sterilization, like tubal ligation, has long been the policy in much of the U.S. Until the last decade or so, many doctors would not even consider the procedure for anyone under 30 years of age, especially if they did not already have children or if they were single. This often held true even when a pregnancy was likely to cause significant health issues for the mother.
The flip side of the sterilization issue is that many Women of Color have been subjected to forced sterilization.
A practicing Wiccan, Mikaela doesn’t see abortion as outside of nature. She sees their decision to choose for their own body as a part of the balance guided by the Goddess and God.
She said, “I believe that the Goddess gave us the power and right to choose what we do with our lives and facilitate the events within them so long as it harms none—bodily autonomy falls underneath that power and right. The wheel turns, regardless of whether we want it to or not. It is a balance that is maintained by the Goddess and God, and it is that balance that lives within us, their domain, and the world [in which] we reside.”
Mikaela outlined her religious beliefs and how they relate to her views on reproductive health, pregnancy, and abortion.
Because of this, fetuses live and die under the Goddess’ eyes all the time. It is the wheel turning, pushed by the cycle of life and the element of random chance. Perfectly healthy eggs may fall from the nest or be eaten by a nearby corvid looking for a meal simply because they happened to arrive at the wrong place and wrong time.
I wholeheartedly believe that everyone has a right to their own beliefs. If someone were to believe in God and feel that once a new DNA sequence is created in His image, it should not be terminated without critical cause, then that is entirely their right; they would be free to act on that thought in relation to their OWN body. But enforcing beliefs on others, ultimately resulting in the liberty to restrict access to bodily rights, whatever the reason would be for their own cause of termination, is wrong. I believe in the freedom of accessible choice. The overturning of Roe v Wade does not support this but rather facilitates an old road that should never have been revisited.
When anyone with a uterus makes the decision to abort a fetus, they are not ending the life of a child. They are protecting theirs. The fetus may have arrived at a time that was not appropriate for them, or a medical issue arose that threatened their life should they continue with the pregnancy.
One point that Mikaela has heard many make in the post-Roe v. Wade world is that the reversal has now somehow empowered them to “choose what they want.”
However, she feels they have achieved the opposite, as many states rushed to impose restrictions on safe abortions and care, “The power of choice already existed before the overturning. People could opt to refrain from abortions in their own religious or personal right, while those who sought it could actively obtain it for their safety and right to bodily autonomy regardless of where they resided.”
And moving to another state, she feels, is an imperfect option at best. Only people with financial means can afford to pick up everything and move to a state with protections.
Mikaela pointed out the financial disparity and impacts, “What of those who are struggling and have insufficient funds, preventing them from making that visit or move? It may be an unpleasantry for those who are pro-life to live in a state that still fully supports the procedure, but it may mean the quality of life for those who are unable to move or travel from a state that restricts it.”
A pregnancy and birthing a child can dramatically change the course of not one but many lives. Most Americans support some form of abortion rights, which has not been reflected in the recent Supreme Court ruling.
In addition, it is common for people to assume that people with religious beliefs identify as a bloc as pro-life. However, most people who describe themselves as religious are not as staunchly pro-life as many think—with the exception of white evangelical Christians.