Life

“I am American and I am afraid: Why the abortion ban is so disturbing”

Posted by
Stylist Team
Published
A woman in black and white

The Ohio “heartbeat” abortion bill being passed has devastated women across America. Writer Kylie Lynch explains her views on the ban, and why she’s so upset. 

I am a woman and I am American. And, until recently, I had full control over my own body.

Land of the free, but not allowed an abortion after rape or incest? Despite it being 2019 and the powerful #MeToo movement making positive changes to women’s rights across the world, I am incredibly fearful of the dangerous abortion legislation sweeping my country. 

I grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and truly loved living there. Growing up, I had friends who made me happy, a sister who doubled as my best friend, and parents who loved me more than anything. I loved school, got good grades, and was even a homecoming princess (no, it’s not as exciting as the movies make it seem). No wonder that, when I left for university, I felt like I was on top of the world. That I truly felt as if nothing could stop me – a young girl from the US – from achieving my dreams.

I was wrong.

You may also like

The Alabama abortion ban is disturbing. Northern Ireland’s is even worse

While in Ohio for university in 2017, one of my friends was raped. She didn’t find out she was pregnant until she was eight weeks into her first trimester. She decided to have an abortion, describing it as the hardest decision she had ever made. 

The terrible truth, in hindsight, is that she was fortunate to have been allowed to make that decision in the first place. In April this year, Ohio passed a bill that, once it goes into effect in July, will ban all abortions after a foetal heartbeat is detected. It’s worth noting that a heartbeat can be first heard in most pregnancies around five or six weeks, long before most women know that they are even pregnant. It’s worth noting, too, that this bill includes no exceptions for pregnancy due to rape or incest. 

This same control over women’s bodies is being extended all over the US. A bill was recently signed in Georgia known as the “Living Infants Fairness and Equality (LIFE) Act”, which – similar to those bills passed in Kentucky, Mississippi, and now Alabama – states that it is illegal to receive an abortion if a foetal heartbeat can be detected.

These bills allow for abortions to be performed only if a mother’s life is in danger. Basically, the rights of the foetus (which, at six weeks, is no bigger than a small pea) seem to supersede the rights of the mother.

Protest at abortion centre
Heartbeat abortion ban: People have been protesting the new legislation

I’d never thought much about abortion until I was sexually assaulted last spring.

When I was assaulted, I was told I was “lucky”. I had somehow gotten my attacker off me for long enough to tell him I was calling the police. He ran and I crumbled. But I didn’t have to worry about getting pregnant, because I had gotten “lucky” (I won’t even mention the inappropriateness of using the word “lucky” in this scenario). But what if that man had raped me? What if I had been unconscious? What if my phone had died? 

And the most haunting question now: what if it happens again?

In America, my body is no longer my own. It belongs to men who make laws and have never had to hold their keys between their fingers when walking home.

It is folded into a perfect square and placed next Brett Kavanaugh’s gavel. It lies in a stack of testimonies on a police officer’s desk. It is crunched into a calculator and spat out as a statistic.

Want insider tips on happiness, health, relaxation and more? Sign up for the Stylist Loves Wellbeing email

Alabama abortion laws
Alabama has also agreed to the strict abortion laws

In America, I am not a person, I am a number. My body is not a body, it’s a weapon that’s more regulated than any of its brothers. Fear is not a fleeting feeling: it’s an alarm clock that will not stop going off. And America cannot wake up.

Abortions are not going to stop just because they’ve been made illegal, they are simply going to become more dangerous. After all, research has consistently shown us that restricting access to safe abortions does not lower abortion rates: rather, women will be forced to seek more dangerous termination methods. Botched abortions cause about 8 to 11% of all maternal deaths in countries where abortion is illegal, according to the Guttmacher Institute. This amounts to around 30,000 each year.

Essentially, if a woman needs to terminate her pregnancy, she will. And if the government doesn’t let her do so, she will find a way to do it herself. 

You may also like

The Alabama abortion ban is disturbing. Northern Ireland’s is even worse

Last spring, I hadn’t paid much attention to abortions and a woman’s right to make choices about her body, but I lived happily knowing I had a choice. If I were to be assaulted again, once the Ohio legislation is in action, I’d be forced into the life-changing decision of having a baby against my will. And the reminder of what my attacker did to me would inevitably sit heavily upon me, as I was forced to confront the reality of his attack every single day.

So, yes, I am a woman, and I am American, and I am afraid . I’m afraid of the future. I’m afraid of what this bill means to the millions of people who celebrate it. Most of all, I’m afraid for all the girls who will be forced into a decision they previously had a choice in. They deserve so much better.

Images: Getty 

Topics

Share this article

Author

Stylist Team

Recommended by Stylist Team

  • Life

    #Repealthe8th: woman shares powerful teen abortion story

    As pressure mounts for Ireland to review their abortion laws, one woman has shared her own story on Twitter

    Posted by
    Kayleigh Dray
    Published
  • Life

    Girls star Jemima Kirke shares her college abortion story

    'I still see shame around terminating pregnancies'

    Posted by
    Stylist Team
    Published
  • Life

    A woman's place is in the White House: why we need a female president

    Why President Hillary Clinton would be the ultimate female role model

    Posted by
    Stylist Team
    Published
  • Life

    Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clapped back so hard at politician

    Watch this space.

    Posted by
    Susan Devaney
    Published

Other people read

More from Life

More from Stylist Team