Welcome to Gilead

Welcome to Gilead

I had planned on publishing this blog last month when the news that Roe had just been over turned. But I struggled to get feelings down on paper and hit a little burn out, so here it is, a month later than planned but hopefully more collected thoughts.

My heart is truly broken for the women and pregnant people of the United States. Reversing Roe sends a strong message that woman & pregnant people will be FORCED to give birth under all circumstances. This message is not limited to the US, and is felt worldwide.
Many people have made statements that this is a massive step backwards, but I now fear that a step backwards may be too kind. We are entering a new era, an era of complete control of our bodies by both the church and the state. An era of the unknown.

(Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

The Handmaids tale has become a depiction of what this new era will look like and the scary thing is that this is how Margaret Atwood book started. The church slowly infiltrated politics and started to control abortions, birth control, a woman’s right to their job and their own money, and LGBTQIA + rights including marriage.

Any of these things sound familiar? Well that’s because they are all things the supreme court has mentioned that they want to ‘look over’.
One thing that is important to remember that everything in The Handmaid’s Tale has already happened. Yes, believe it or not, it has. Everything in that book has happened across the world, the only difference is now it is happening to white, privileged people.
As a privileged, white, cis woman it is super important that we remember all the abuse and mistreatment of people of colour before us, we should not just be fighting for the rights of the white & privileged, we NEED to be fighting for the rights of all.

SO WHAT'S HAPPENING IN THE US?

On 24th June 2022, the Supreme Court reversed Roe, meaning that there is no longer an overall law on abortion in the US, and that it is up to each individual state on their laws around abortion. For some this means that as of that Friday, there laws went back to whatever stood before Roe, before 1969, others had automatic bans & some set new restrictions on services. This effected 23 states. Some states even wish to treat abortion as 1st degree murder and these states often also hold the death penalty for this crime.

13 states had trigger laws in place for when Roe would be overturned, meaning abortion bans would become law within 30 days of the ruling, some even on the same day.
Those states included:

  • Arkansas
  • Idaho
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Dakota
  • Oklahoma
  • South Dakota
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Utah
  • Wyoming

While other states may have not completely banned abortion, they have made it more difficult to access one. In most cases this is controlling at how many weeks you can have an abortion or under what circumstances. Georgia, Iowa and South Carolina have all attempted to ban abortions after 6 weeks.

Restricting access is nothing new to the US. The Trump administration banned family planning clinics to use their government funding for abortion healthcare. Nearly 900 clinics where forced to close their doors because of this law, leaving many forced to travel to access abortion healthcare, as well as other services these clinics provided. But closing clinics is not the only form of restriction they have had in the past. Before Roe if you were white and privileged with money you could afford to go to a doctor who would find a loop hole to allow abortion (these where called therapeutic abortions) or you could travel to a state that offered abortions with next to no barriers. For many woman & pregnant people this was not the case. While those who were less privileged would go before a court of typically all male doctors and plead their case. In many cases these courts offered abortion in exchange for sterilisation, disproportionality targeting POC.
Since the Supreme Court’s ruling we are already seeing several family planning clinics forced to close their doors.

So, who are the Supreme Court?

The Supreme Court is made up of 8 Justices picked by generations of presidents. They are the final court of appeals. Their job is to enforced an equal justice system under the law for the American People.
Essentially they have the final say.

Meet the Supreme Court that voted in favour of reversing Roe.Clarence Thomas
This doesn't just end at reversing Roe for Clarence Thomas who was part of the supreme court who voted in favour of reversing Roe. He has stated that he wants to also look at changing same sex marriage laws, the right to contraption laws and wants to criminalise anything other than heterosexual sex under marriage.

Samuel A. Alito, Jr
Samuel voted to reverse Roe as he wants to return abortion laws to each individual state, he stated he wishes to ‘return the issue of abortion to the people’s elected representatives’

Neil M. Gorsuch
Neil voted to reverse Roe has he is in support of Mississippi Law which makes most abortions illegal after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Bear in mind Mississippi only has one abortion clinic.

Brett M. Kavanaugh
Brett also is in support of Mississippi Law and voted to overturn Roe, however he is against any block preventing people from travelling to get an abortion, stating that it is the ‘constitutional right to interstate travel.’ This would mean only those who can afford to travel can access abortion care.

Amy Coney Barrett
Nominated by Trump himself to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg, she is the newest member of the supreme court who also voted to overturn Roe and supports the Mississippi Law. She did uphold a Chicago ‘bubble ordinance’ that creates buffer zones around abortion clinics.

WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE IN NORTHERN IRELAND?

In Northern Ireland, it was illegal to get an abortion until the decriminalisation by Westminster in October 2019. Even though it is now legal to have abortions, there has been no commission of services. Meaning that there isn’t anything in place to support the HSC in providing care. This includes training, funding & guidelines for services. The whole of the western trust currently has no services in place so anyone accessing abortion care here will be forced to travel to a neighbouring trust (this is a huge improvement as before May 20222 they would have to travel to England to access abortion healthcare).
On paper you should be able to access abortion healthcare up to 12 weeks, however in reality they are only providing services up to 10 weeks. If you are past 10 weeks you can access tele medication through Women on Web on BPAS or you can travel to England to access abortion care.
Northern Irish Secretary Brandon Lewis told Stormont’s Health Minster Robin Swann that the fully-funded commission of services must bit put in place within days in May 2022. Brandon Lewis put new powers in place that would mean that commission of services will not have to be approved by Stormont. He also indicated that the UK government will step in and commission these services if the Department of Health failure to do so.
However, Brandon Lewis has now been replaced by Shailesh Vara who stated ‘I am taking the necessary steps and am determined to see the delivery of these vital healthcare services in Northern Ireland without further unnecessary delays.’

WHY WE NEED ABORTION HEALTHCARE?

I will be in the first to say that in an ideal world we wouldn't need abortions.
But that is not where we live.
We live in a world with appalling poor sex education, rape, incest, where fetal fatel abnormalities happen, where abuse takes place, of poverty and a homelessness crisis, where contraception does agree with everyone and isn't 100% effective, with shame and stigma, along with many other reasons why abortion is essential.

But most importantly anyone should be able to have an abortion for any reason including because they damm what to.

Why, you ask?
Because it is none of your damm business. 

SOME IMPORTANT FACTS?

  • In the UK abortion is 4 times safer than carrying on with the pregnancy
  • Worldwide it is estimated that 1 in 4 pregnancy’s end in abortion each year.
  • 25 million unsafe abortions take place each year
  • Criminalising abortion does not stop abortions; it just makes them less safe

WHAT TO DO ABOUT TERFS, TROLLS & ANTI CHOICERS?

Firstly, if you ever get anti-choice trolls, try you best not to engage. You will not change their mind. Their lives resolve around making useless comments that make them feel like they are making a difference. Alliance for Choice gave some excellent advice of 'only punch up' meaning only engage with people who have power to make change. Trolls have no power.

We are still waiting on our safe zone bill, butt in the meantime you can report any protesters using graphic imagery to Alliance for Choice HERE. If you feel brave enough please video and take photos but only if you feel safe doing so.
And most importantly take care of yourself, and reach out to friends, family & the pro-choice community. Dealing with turfs and trolls can be emotionally draining so looking after yourself must always come first.

Photo By Ciara McMullan

WHAT YOU CAN DO?

Firstly, talk to friends and family. Have those hard conversations. It can be daunting at first, but keep this as an open conversation and try to see their point of view. Understanding and respecting each other is always a great start.

Education
Educating yourself doesn't have to be sitting with a boring old book there is plenty of documentaries, TV shows and podcasts all about what is happening. Some of my personal recommendation include, Reversing Roe on Netflix, Mrs America in BBC iPlayer, Three Families on BBC iPlayer, The 8th available on film & the book In Her Shoes.

Stay Up To Date
Follow your local News & Activist groups on what is happening in your area and across the world.
 

Come To Rallies, Workshops & Protests
This is a great way to meet likeminded people and share information & resources. For events happening in Northern Ireland you can follow Alliance for Choice, Alliance for Choice Derry, Amnesty, PBP, QSU Project Choice, UU Pro-Choice Society, Stop Street Harassment NI & The Homeless Period Belfast.

Volunteer
There is many ways you can volunteer. One way is though Alliance for Choices doula programme which offers woman and pregnant people support during their abortions, for more information please see HERE.

Donate & Fundraise
You can to donate in several ways, in Northern Ireland services have not been commissioned so we rely on charities to provide guidance, resources & support. I personally recommend that you donate to Alliance for Choice, BPAS & Informing Choices. You could also organise fundraiser events such as bake sales, craft nights, raffles & workshops to raise funds. If you are on the crafty side, & sell your work you could offer a percentage of your profits, the possibilities are endless.

Stickering
Why not cover the streets in pro-choice positivity, especially if it to cover up some of those fake clinics stickers, like Stanton Healthcare. You can find many stickers on Etsy or you can contact Alliance for Choice for some informational stickers that you can use.

NEED AN ABORTION?

The only place with the most update information on abortion in Northern Ireland is Alliance for Choice which you can find HERE. If you are trying to access an abortion in Northern Ireland you should also contact the British Pregnancy Advisory Service on 03457304030 or fill in consultation form HERE.

- Dearbhail

Sources:

 


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