On Friday, September 18, 2020 the world learned that 87 year old Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died and as a result left an opening in the Supreme Court with less than 50 days before the 2020 Presidential election.
My Facebook and Twitter timelines are filled with debates among people discussing why or why not the Republicans should appoint a conservative justice to replace the liberal Justice Ginsburg.
In February of 2016, a seat was left open on the Supreme Court by the death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. The Republicans infamously stole a Supreme Court seat by refusing to hold hearings for President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland in the Spring of 2016 claiming that it was an election year and the people should vote to decide who should get to make that decision even though the voters had already voted in 2012 and thus decided that Obama should be the one to make the nominee.
The Republican controlled Senate led by the KY Senator Mitch McConnell refused to honor the wishes of the 2012 voters. That was over 200 days before the 2016 election between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died less than 50 days before the 2020 election between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. The Republicans have quickly turned their 2016 rhetoric upside down and are now pushing to move forward with confirming Donald Trump’s anticipated nominee even before knowing who said proposed justice will be. Republicans are falling in life and have no issues with their blatant hypocrisy.
The Republicans are utilizing this opportunity to highlight their conservative social agenda as the reason for moving forward with filling the open seat.
The conversation of abortion and women’s right to agency in their reproductive health is front and center in these debates.
This debate is triggering AF.
Because I remember being a pregnant 18 year old college freshman living in Tennessee without adequate access to abortion. The idea that a Conservative Supreme Court could roll back access to abortion rights for women in all states terrifies me for all women and in particular young women without wealth access.
I have struggled for over 18 years raising my son as a single parent. Fortunately, I have had the privilege of having a strong financial support system in my family and was able to tread water and survive the life that came with early motherhood. But even with that I still had to obtain medicaid for myself and my son. I still had to utilize WIC services. I have still had difficulty paying students loans because two bedroom rent payments superseded student loan payments. I had no time to focus on bettering my credit when I needed to simply survive. Being a single parent beginning at age 19 is not a beautiful story of overcoming obstacles. It has instead been an anxiety and depression inducing time. I might look fancy while making this life work for me but it is the mask I have chosen to don while trying to survive motherhood.
My choice to have a child was not my choice in its entirety. I found out I was pregnant in November of 2002. I was attending college in Collegedale, TN, a small college town 20 minutes outside of Chattanooga, TN. I actively considered abortion at the time but was unable to access it in Tennessee. I later learned had I told my parents earlier in my pregnancy they would have helped but like any naive 18 year old I stubbornly and fearfully refused to tell them I was pregnant. Instead I did my own research and learned that there were no abortion clinics in Tennessee in 2002. If I wanted to obtain an abortion I would have to go to either Atlanta, GA or Charlotte, NC. This was not feasible to a then broke and car-less 18 year old college student. Instead I visited the local health department that gave me information for a clinic that served pregnant women. This clinic was actually an organization that encouraged women to continue with their unwanted pregnancies. It required of me to attend parenting classes and at the end of the classes I could get the option to get a free car seat or bassinet. I chose to attend their program and received a bassinet and a few items of baby clothes. That was their “contribution” to my success into motherhood.
For a few weeks I debated amongst myself, my boyfriend, and my friends about what I should do. I was attending a Seventh Day Adventist University at the time so many of my friends were more socially conservative in nature which led them to encourage me to follow through with my pregnancy. I was surrounded by people who simply did not advocate abortion as a viable option to me.
The reason this debate is triggering for me is because I am so fearful for other young versions of myself who find themselves with inadequate access to abortion services as well as support systems to support their decision to move forward with an abortion.
Unlike anti-choice people, I believe that girls and women should have a choice to access to abortion services. I believe that we should be able to make these decisions and not be barred by costs or by parental notice requirements or to be shamed by forcing women to look at pictures or hear the heartbeats of the fetuses they may be carrying.
Child birth transforms a woman’s life. Raising a child without access to wealth can detrimentally affect a woman’s life and her child’s life.
Abortion is not a first choice option for many women but it should at least be a viable option. When politicians cavalierly speak on what women should do with the fertilized cells in their uterus it infuriates me. These politicians do not have to live through the poverty and the mental instability that comes with raising a child in today’s economy.
I have made it by the skin of my teeth. I am only now seeking to thrive and not just to survive today but that is after spending 18 years being a mother with little financial support from his father.
I have been a negative teen pregnancy statistic as well as an example of positive success story regarding teen pregnancy. This was not the life I planned to have and yet this is the life that I was cornered into as a direct result of being pregnant in the socially conservative Republican Red state of Tennessee.
So yes I this conversation triggers me.
Abortion access is no longer a concern for me as an employed 36 year old attorney but this is not about me. It is about the many young women who may have to live in a society where they too are cornered into parenthood because of public policy. Public policy that supports child birth but not contraception or childcare or economically uplifting mothers. Social conservatives need to do better and stop demonizing women who choose to access abortion services and start implementing and funding policies that will support all parents and in particular single mothers.
Although I love watching and reading all thing politics, I have purposefully avoided all conversations surrounding the Supreme Court replacement of RBG because it is simply too much for my soul who has even after 18 years not fully healed from the trauma of inadequate access to abortion services.
***Please don’t get it twisted I love my son and this should not be read as in that light. This piece is to highlight the turmoil that comes with the government taking the right to choose away from a woman. ***