The Good Place star Jameela Jamil took to Twitter to challenge a pro-life activist who claimed women “deserve better” than abortion and cited outdated statistics about how abortion causes mental health issues.
As disappointing as it is to admit, conversations surrounding abortion – and a woman’s right to control what happens to her body – remain as vitriolic and divisive as they’ve ever been. In 2019, women’s reproductive rights across the US were continuously threatened, with controversial ‘heartbeat bills’ – which heavily restrict abortion after five or six weeks of pregnancy – being introduced in states including Iowa, Kentucky, Georgia, Ohio and North Dakota.
And 2020 isn’t looking particularly great either. We may be less than a month in the new decade, but 200 – mostly male – members of Congress have already signed a brief urging the Supreme Court to “reconsider” Roe v Wade, the 1973 ruling protecting women’s abortion rights. Society is going backwards rather than forwards – and arguments against access to abortion continues to surface.
Indeed, one of the most common points raised by pro-life activists in their fight against abortion rights is that of the effect abortions have on the women who get them. Despite the fact that a recent study found that 95% of women who get an abortion do not regret their decision – and that “there was no evidence ever to say that was actually true” – anti-abortion activists continue to espouse the idea that abortions have a long-term detrimental affect on the women who get them.
But what these arguments fail to acknowledge is the alternative to abortion: a woman forced to have a baby they – for whatever reason – are not ready for.
That was the message behind a new tweet from The Good Place star Jameela Jamil over the weekend, in response to an anti-abortion activist who posted a series of statistics about the supposed damaging effects abortions have on women.
“Following an abortion, women are: 34% more likely to develop anxiety disorders, 37% more likely to have depression, 81% more likely to have mental problems, 110% more likely to abuse alcohol, 155% more likely to commit suicide,” the tweet, from the founder of the anti-abortion organisation Live Action, read. “Mothers, fathers and children deserve better.”
Besides the fact that this data is outdated (it was published in 2011) – and much of it has since been disproved – the message perpetrated by this kind of rhetoric is widely damaging; a fact which led Jamil to write her incredible response.
“Let’s see some stats on women forced to have a baby that they don’t want/aren’t emotionally/physically/financially stable/old enough for,” she wrote. “What are the stats on victims of rape/incest forced to have the baby/forced to give away their baby because they can’t look after it. Eh?”
She added: “Main side effect of an abortion: relief”.
Jamil’s tweet is not only powerful in itself, but it also reveals a damning hypocrisy in these kind of pro-life arguments: that anti-abortion activists only care about a woman’s mental health when it supports their argument.
This isn’t the first time Jamil has spoken openly about abortion. Last year, the actor and activist took to Twitter to reveal that she had an abortion when she was younger, describing her choice as the best decision she ever made, both for herself and for the baby she wasn’t ready for.