Getting an abortion has never been an easy decision, but the procedure can be deeply liberating for women.
This simple message is causing an uproar in the United States, where many pro-choice activists have recently decided to share their personal experiences using the hashtag #Shoutyourabortion.
The initiative, which caused a number of spats with pro-life activists, serves as a counterpoint to Republican members of Congress who are threatening to cut Planned Parenthood's funding. The non-profit group runs a network of 700 clinics that provide abortions, among other things.
Several Republican politicians, while invoking unfounded allegations about fetal tissue trafficking, stated that they would oppose any budget bill that maintained current public funding of the network, even if their position would paralyze the federal government.
Yesterday, a few hours before the deadline, a deal that did not include any cuts to family planning was concluded so that sort of scenario could be avoided. This political power struggle, partly inspired by electoral considerations, is masking the true fight over abortion, which is being fought outside of Washington.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, a pro-choice organization, U.S. state governments have passed over 300 laws restricting access to abortion over the past four years. The laws are very diverse, but their objective is to restrict or completely stop women from getting abortions.
Some states call for useless medical tests like ultrasounds, or require mandatory reading about the characteristics of the fetus in the hopes that women will change their minds. Others, claiming to uphold women's "safety," impose needlessly high hygienic standards on abortion clinics, and thus put the clinics’ financial security at risk.
Texas adopted one of these kinds of laws, causing dozens of clinics to shut down. Now thousands of women must travel hundreds of kilometers to get an abortion; sometimes nongovernmental organizations help by covering travel and lodging costs for the poorest women.
Several states have strengthened laws on medical abortion, a popular alternative for many women in need.
Leftist magazine Mother Jones, acknowledging dwindling abortion access in the country, stated in a recent article that "the war on women is over — and women lost."
The headline is striking but simplistic, since abortions are still legal in the United States. Yet the situation is no less disconcerting.
The ongoing legal offensive is unjustly violating a right that was recognized by the U.S. Supreme Court in the historic decision of Roe v. Wade. The pro-life movement dreams of overturning it, but for now, that’s still a dream.
Trying to restrict abortion access in the meantime through targeted measures goes against the spirit of the decision. Justifying it as being in the interest of women is pure hypocrisy.
Women who publicly speak about receiving an abortion — as shocking as it is to those who consider an embryo to be a human being — are a clear reminder of this.