In the u.s., today is the anniversary of the Roe V. Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. As most of my friends know, I worked for a few years as a case manager on a fund for low-income people trying to access reproductive health care.
Although rare, some people in abortionland questioned my commitment to the abortion rights movement: “You don’t have a uterus, how does this impact you? How could you understand a pregnant woman’s feelings?” (Pro-abortion queer women, cis men, and women with fertility issues are often met with similar distrust.) Yes I don’t have a uterus. And that is exactly why I support abortion, because it makes me subject to anti-choice power structures as much as a cis woman (albeit if in slightly different ways).
As a trans and queer woman, my reproductive options are under intense regulation. Trans/queer women, especially if we are poor or working class, are often denied the opportunity to adopt. Reproductive technologies like sperm banking (extremely important for trans female people who want to conceive biologically post-transition) are expensive and inaccessible. Trans women with biological children have had their marriages invalidated and kids taken away by courts. In many countries, including much of canada and the u.s., sterilizing surgeries are required for trans people to obtain congruent identification documents.
I want the option of having a child, so, for me, reproductive justice means fighting for the ability to reproduce. But I am impacted when the state, church, or other institutions seek to control or limit reproductive options and technologies. The same “family values” used to deny access to abortion are used to deny access to children for trans, queer, and poly/non-monogamous folks.
And thus, I stand in solidarity with all people whose bodies, genders, and sexualities are being determined by oppressive anti-choice forces. Reproductive justice means children for all the loving (trans and queer) people who want them, and free abortion on demand and without apology!
All these years after Roe V. Wade, we’re still fighting to make reproductive justice a reality. Even if abortion is legal, it doesn’t mean very much if it remains inaccessible. And the right wing is still working very hard to keep abortion inaccessible, especially for women under 18, trans people, rural women, and low-income/working class women.
I’ve personally had to tell 14 year-old rape survivors that they have to obtain permission from their abusive parents before they could have an abortion. I’ve had to tell women with fetal abnormalities that they would have to carry to term and deliver a dead fetus because the price of the abortion would be around $14,000. I’ve literally talked down a woman from the edge of a bridge after she discovered she couldn’t afford to abort the product of her recent rape.
I might not ever be pregnant, but I have empathy. No one should have to choose between selling their food stamps or having a child they can’t afford.
Legal abortion means nothing without access to health care, when a pregnant person’s choices are limited by her ability to pay or when the nearest abortion clinic is two states away or when facilities are surrounded by militant, intimidating crowds who create an atmosphere of shame. And with a Republican-controlled House, women, queer and trans folks are going to need to fight even harder to make reproductive justice a reality.