How Am I Supposed to Feel Safe Building a Future in this Country?

Yes, this is an essay about abortion. And not about abortion. It’s about this country, which is increasingly, actively, openly hostile to increasingly more of us.

I may sound melodramatic. So I’ll start with a more gentle example, a story, to get you in the right headspace to listen.

I started a new job six weeks ago and the place is in the middle of a shit ton of change. I literally didn’t know who exactly my boss was until last week. I am not remotely confident about what I’m walking into every day, and honestly, it’s exhausting. When the ground is so unsteady you fear for every step you take, well, it makes you wonder if you’re on the right path at all.

Or if you’re in the right place. 

So. Now I’m sure you understand my hesitation about the job, and why I’m keeping my options open.

Now let’s talk about this country.

I have watched as this country, land of the free, home of the brave, blah blah blah, has steadily and openly made moves to disenfranchise more and more of us. A conman, mob boss, failed businessman and reality TV star who lost the popular vote twice became president and appointed three Supreme Court judges, who just decided abortion is not a federally protected right. At least two-thirds of adults in this country support the right to abortion. And the highest court in the land just voted against it. Do not tell me this is representative democracy.

This decision has incredible ramifications for women, 52 percent of the population. Eight states now fully ban abortion, with more expected soon (you can keep track here). The criminalization of those providing it, seeking it, or even driving a friend to get one either exist or are actively in the works. Women are being given advice about how to hide their phone searches. Being told to stop using their period tracking apps. Because if there’s any hint that we’ve even considered abortion, we may find ourselves in jail.

I’m not being hyperbolic; this has already happened to women – women who have had miscarriages, who have given stillbirths, who have sought drug treatment while pregnant, have been slapped with criminal charges. Criminal charges for making decisions about their own lives and bodies.

And like a shitty infomercial I’ll say: Wait, there’s more!

One of the judges who made this decision – the one who sexually harassed his clerk so much testified, on TV, at his his confirmation hearings – has opened the door for more civil rights rollbacks. Remember that whistling Wal-Mart face, slashing prices? That’s Clarence Thomas. With your rights.

Clarence Thomas thinks we need to have a discussion about access to birth control. Oh and gay marriage; we should talk about that too. Because the legal argument for abortion, which these six judges just retroactively struck down after nearly fifty years of existence, is the same argument supporting gay marriage and access to birth control. 

But just so we’re clear, Clarence Thomas doesn’t think we need to talk about how his wife was very actively involved in Trump’s very illegal and very seditious attempt to overthrow the last election. Got it?

Do not tell me this is a representative democracy.

Because if I get raped, and I live in the wrong state, I’ll be force to carry a rapist’s child to term. And if certain republicans gain even more control, that could be the law of the land of this entire country. Think that’s unthinkable? Think again. Look at what is happening right now

If abortion is illegal, then anything that prevents conception could easily be illegal. That’s the throughline of some current and aspiring lawmakers who are openly, happily chatting about criminalizing birth control. Never mind that birth control is prescribed for a variety of issues and concerns and none of them are anyone else’s fucking business. The right to privacy is actively under attack.

I don’t want to hear commands to vote blue or donate here or go to rallies. I’m literally afraid of getting shot at a rally in this gun-happy country where guns outnumber people and it’s easier to buy a semiautomatic killing machine than to purchase nasal decongestant at CVS. I don’t want to be commanded to stand up and fight. I have the right to feel safe in my own home and my own body. 

I’ll tell you one more story about me.

When I was fifteen, I was living with a man who routinely told me he wanted to kill me. It was usually accompanied by hours of berating and screaming, and when he had had a bad day. My mother was dead and this man was my legal guardian. He knew that hitting me would leave evidence, so he stopped that at a certain age, and instead opted for psychological torture. No matter how hard I tried to be perfect and stay safe and out of his way, I couldn’t – the problem was him, not me. And a kind social worker eventually convinced me to leave, even though I was terrified of leaving the only home I knew. I was lucky I had found another place to go, another relative who offered me safe harbor.

Not everyone can escape their abuser. But half the battle is actively recognizing that you are not safe, that this is abuse, and it isn’t your fault, and there’s nothing you can do to change it.

People will tell me right now to not give up hope for living here. To demand change. To harass lawmakers. You know what happens when you harass lawmakers? They make laws protecting themselves – one thing our joke of a legislature did agree on is protecting Supreme Court judges from protests and sidewalk chalk. 

I’ve experienced unsafe living situations before. And I know when it’s time to leave.


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