21 May 2022

This week a leaked draft opinion from the US Supreme Court made more likely the prospect of widespread banning of abortions across the country. The news shaped a lot of what I’ve been reading and watching lately, and in this weekend’s issue of Tendrils I’m going to be sharing notes on some fiction and documentary films I watched. I also wanted to make space to share some links to, and excerpts from, the best pieces of journalism I read on the topic:

the reasoning behind abortion bans is a lie. Bans do not stop abortions from happening. Rather, they are meant to punish people for asserting control over their bodies, lives, and families, and the people who get punished more cruelly and regularly in this country have always been people who are not white and not wealthy

“It is this same groups of people who are surveilled, suspected, targeted by law enforcement in all realms of their life, who are the ones who are going to be disproportionately criminalized for self-managing abortion,” Adams said. That includes “Black, Indigenous and other people of color, immigrants, trans and gender non-conforming folks, and certainly people living in poverty, as well as people living in rural areas and young people.”

The marginalization of abortion in Democratic politics is at least as old as Roe v. Wade. The 1973 decision, which established a constitutional right to an abortion, may have given liberals a false sense of security, Goodwin said. “There was a confidence that the United States was a country that would not roll back, and that would not reach back to its worst tendencies.” It wasn’t just Roe. Americans had also seen the recent gains of the civil rights movement, including the Voting Rights Act and integration of schools, after brutal and sometimes bloody fights. There was “this sense that we can breathe now in the 1970s,” Goodwin said, “that now we can say we’ve learned from these horrors of the past and that we will not take lightly what respecting equality truly means under this flag.”

  • What the U.S. Could Learn from Abortion Without Borders’ (by Anna Louise Sussman for The New Yorker) centres around comparison with a European assistance network that works to help people seeking abortions in countries such as Poland (where abortion was made illegal in 1993)

What seems unusual about Abortion Without Borders is that it combines highly visible advocacy, logistical support for abortions, and funding from major N.G.O.s and governments

The children born in these circumstances will start life a few steps behind, all because their political leaders strove to ban abortion without offering support to the children who would be born if their aims were achieved.

The landmark Turnaway Study on the impacts of being unable to access abortion care found that being forced to keep an unwanted pregnancy significantly increases the risk of being entrapped in an abusive relationship. Another study found nearly a tenth of people who seek abortion care are trying to end their pregnancies because they have abusive partners. Fifteen percent of women experiencing intimate partner violence reported that their partners also subjected them to reproductive coercion.

Finally, I’d also recommend episode 48 of the Strict Scrutiny podcast — ‘What’s Next in a Post-Roe World’ — a conversation between Supreme Court watchers, legal scholars, and a professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.