Bitch better have my reproductive health care

Off the Beat

Content warning: Abortion

I try my best to stay calm, cool and collected in today’s political climate. I’d be lying if I said that this hasn’t been difficult for me, though.

The first time that I was old enough to vote in a presidential election, Donald Trump won — a man infamous for disrespecting women who was recorded talking about grabbing womxn by the “pussy.” I cried when I listened to Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony during the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, and I sobbed when he was sworn into the Supreme Court. Most recently, I’ve struggled with the abortion-ban legislation being passed in multiple states.

Forty-six years after the landmark Supreme Court decision of Roe v. Wade, cisgender women, transgender men, and nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people are still fighting for their reproductive rights. This recent, dehumanizing abortion-ban legislation is being pushed by an insurmountable number of old white people — a group predominantly without the ability to conceive. In this dark time for reproductive rights, it is easy to feel hopeless, especially considering how long this fight has been going on for. What keeps me going is the people who I’ve met over the years who have played vital roles in supporting my rights and choices, inspiring me to do the same for others.

When I was 18, I moved to Southern California. Just out of high school and leaving a roller-coaster ride of a relationship, I was ready for a fresh start. That fresh start came to an abrupt halt when I became ill and ended up in the hospital. The doctor asked if I would take a pregnancy test. I was surprised, but I agreed. My last sexual partner had been my ex-boyfriend, and I didn’t even think that it was possible I was pregnant. Sure enough, the doctor came back into my hospital room and told me that I was.

I immediately burst into tears. I had taken all of the necessary precautions — from condoms to birth control pills and shots. Each form of birth control that I took had a major impact on my body, from weight gain to making me physically ill. Despite all of the effort, time and money that I put into avoiding pregnancy, it happened anyway.

I didn’t know what to do; I was surrounded by people I didn’t know, in a city I didn’t know. From the hospital bed, I called my ex-boyfriend to fill him in on what was happening, and he immediately accused me of lying about the fact that it was his, saying I just wanted his money. I hung up the phone and felt completely alone. Afraid to burden my family, I decided to move forward on my own.

The next day, I went to Planned Parenthood. When I met with staff to talk about my options moving forward, I told them that I wanted an abortion. There was no doubt in my mind. I refused to bring a child into this world when I knew I couldn’t financially, emotionally or reliably support it. It wouldn’t have been fair to that child, and it wouldn’t have been fair to me.

As we were working out the details surrounding the procedure, we were stopped at the insurance portion of the paperwork. I did not have my own insurance. Instantly, I became overwhelmed with stress and began to have a panic attack. As I was hyperventilating, a woman guided me into a chair in her office and told me that she would help me get through this. She stood by my side throughout the whole process, easing the burden that I felt. She helped me fill out all of the paperwork, set up an appointment for the abortion procedure and called me regularly after I left the office to check in and see how I was doing. She ended up being the director of that Planned Parenthood location at the time. In a moment when I felt hopeless and alone, I found refuge in her support.

It is people like her who inspire me to keep fighting. She not only empowered me to fight for my own rights but also motivated me to stand up for those who don’t have the same resources as I do. I was able to choose what happened to my body and, consequently, my life. But that is not the case for everybody.

Recently Alabama’s Senate approved the United States’ strictest abortion ban — legislation that criminalizes doctors who perform an abortion and outlaws almost all cases of the procedure, including for pregnancies that result from incest and rape. Those voting for these types of laws claim that they are pro-life, but what about our lives? These laws are not only a disrespectful dismissal of everything that those who got Roe v. Wade passed were fighting for, but they are severely detrimental to the mental and emotional health of our country’s people.

So, I’m done staying calm, cool and collected. I believe that reproductive rights are human rights, and I am sick of a bunch of old white men telling me what I can or cannot do with my body. They shouldn’t be telling you, either. I’m ready to fight for our rights, bodies and choices. Don’t say I didn’t warn you — this pussy grabs back.

“Off the Beat” columns are written by Daily Cal staff members until the spring semester’s regular opinion writers have been selected. Contact the opinion desk at [email protected] or follow us on Twitter @dailycalopinion.