With the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade last week, lots of people have been taking to the internet to express their thoughts. From Instagram, to op-eds, to even LinkedIn, people have been sharing their opinions, arguments, and even abortion stories. But left out of the conversation has been the disability community, and even worse, arguments surrounding abortion rights on both sides have been drenched in ableism.
Reproductive justice is a part of disability justice, yet the fear of disability has long been used to manipulate individuals towards abortion upon finding out the fetus will have disabilities. Many disabled advocates tell the stories of their parents being told “your child will never walk/talk/be “independent”/what have you—you should terminate the pregnancy.” Spoiler alert: disabled people have meaningful lives and often can do those very things with accommodations or accessibility aids.
There’s been an outpouring of personal abortion stories with traumatic maternal conditions which are often followed up with a one-two punch of “you might be forced to carry a disabled baby! This is horrible!” Pro-choice TikTok is filled with horrible content using the Horace filter making fun of the idea that having a disabled child is the worst part of losing reproductive rights.
I never thought I’d have to break it down this far, but in case you didn’t know: having a disabled child is not a tragedy. The lack of human rights for disabled people—and now, anyone with a uterus—however, is.
Disability is the largest marginalized community, comprising at least 20% of the population, and it is the only community that you, or anyone you love, can join at any time—yet disabled people have to fight to even be thought of in circles surrounding human rights because we are still trying to fight the stereotype that we are, in fact, real and full human beings. While abortion is health care, and should be a personal choice between a pregnant person and their doctor, the notion that having a child with a disability—or “deformed baby,” as TikTok is referencing—is harmful to actual disabled people who will be seriously impacted by this ruling.
Disabled people have long struggled with not having autonomy—over 1 million people live under conservatorships (you know, like Britney) and even more disabled adults live under strict guardianship. Disabled people are seven times more likely to be victims of sexual assault, and 5 out of 6 sexual assault crimes against disabled people are from someone in their close circle (so yeah, their rapist could force them to have an abortion or continue the pregnancy against their will). Disabled people are 11 times more likely to die from pregnancy and childbirth than non disabled people. The disabled population will be disproportionately affected by the decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, and even more so for people who are BIPOC and disabled, yet are being used as pawns in a debate where nobody wins and disabled people definitely lose.
When leftists make jokes about disability being tragic, disabled people being unwanted and useless members of society, they actually feed Republican talking points that contribute to further marginalization of disabled people. Let’s face it: disability is a tough thing to navigate, but not because disability is a bad thing—it’s a tough thing to navigate because society wasn’t built for disabled people (transportation, literally buildings, etc.). The rare times elements of society were created with disabled people in mind, they were usually built to oppress us (forced sterilization, ugly laws, subminimum wage). Believing that disability is a bad thing is counter to the fight of disabled activists.
The other important thing to note is that not all disabilities are visible, detectable or even existing at birth. Children and adults can acquire disabilities at any time. Because the system is so broken, consequences like burnout and poverty amongst families (because medical care is expensive, hello?) statistically lead to neglect or abuse of disabled children. Navigating the disability world is hard on parents, so stigmatizing disability at any stage of life is extremely damaging.
The best way to support the best interests of pregnant people and disabled children is to have access to abortion rights, destigmatized medical care, and creating a world that is safe and accepting for all disabled people.
So what can you do?
Speak out: when you see ableism on social media—on either side of the aisle—you can stand up and say something.
Encourage your local abortion fund to have an accessibility plan: You should be donating anyway, send them an email while you’re at it asking for an inclusion plan and hold them accountable to adding it.
Take personal responsibility: We need everyone to learn about ableism, disability rights, and disability justice so that disabled people are included from the beginning.
Image: Maite Pons / Stocksy.com
A little over a month ago I had emergency surgery to treat an ectopic pregnancy.
It was scary and painful and unexpected and I am still recovering physically and emotionally. I am lucky to live somewhere where, when the doctors realized it was not a simple case of appendicitis and I was already open on the operating table, they did not hesitate to perform the surgery that saved my life. My abdomen was already full of blood, and my fallopian tube on that side—which had to be surgically removed—was ruptured due to the expanding embryo. I was about five and a half weeks pregnant at the time (I know specifically, down to the day, since I’m an IVF patient). If it had been possible to preserve the pregnancy somehow, I would have done it happily, but science hasn’t found that path yet.
Some questions I ask myself: Was it an abortion, since an implanted, fertilized embryo was removed from my body? Was it a miscarriage, since it could never have grown to term, no matter what anyone did? Does it matter? To me, it doesn’t, since the outcome would always be the same, and I have absolutely no issue referring to it as an abortion. An ectopic pregnancy is never viable, and I was already bleeding internally when I went into surgery. To the rest of the world in a post-Roe v. Wade society, that seems to be a very important question. Whatever you want to call the operation that was performed on me, it saved my life. I just wanted to take a minute to remind people of that, especially the Supreme Court and certain Oklahoma senators who ask why exceptions to trigger law abortion bans have to include treatment for ectopic pregnancies. (Because they lead to death. That’s why. Without care, you die.)
I was genuinely surprised by the way my ectopic pregnancy unfolded, and by the things I found out after—from how common they really are, to signs that you should go to the hospital.
It’s Not As Rare As You Think
According to the American Pregnancy Association, the rate of ectopic pregnancies is 1 in 50, or roughly 1 to 2%. To me, that doesn’t sound that rare at all, even though it is still classified as a rare diagnosis. I felt this on a physical level when I came into the emergency room and it still took over 12 hours to get me into surgery, and even then it was for what was assumed to be appendicitis, not an ectopic pregnancy. There is a genuine misconception that it’s such an uncommon diagnosis that it probably isn’t happening to you.
Here’s another kicker: it’s slightly more common in IVF patients, so I was already at a higher risk. There are other risk factors I didn’t have, but even having one seems like enough of a reason to consider it more seriously early on. I think a part of me was also a bit in denial, and I kept hoping the doctor would tell me I could go home. It’s a good thing I didn’t.
It’s The Leading Cause Of Maternal Death In the First Trimester
If an embryo implants anywhere but the uterus, it isn’t a viable pregnancy and requires medical treatment. In cases like mine where the ectopic pregnancy is in the fallopian tube and the tube has ruptured, surgery is necessary. I don’t need my fallopian tubes as much now that I’ve moved from IUI (intrauterine insemination) to IVF (in vitro fertilization), because the embryo will be implanted directly by a doctor as opposed to a fertilized egg traveling down my tubes. That’s my silver lining: one less tube, one less potential problem!
Ectopic pregnancies can be diagnosed at different stages, and not all need emergency surgery like mine, but they are the leading cause of maternal death in the first trimester. That’s a scary statistic. They do happen, and when they do, they’re dangerous—even if they are caught early on and can be treated without surgery.
Getting A Diagnosis Can Be Confusing
I wasn’t bleeding, as far as I could tell. I wouldn’t find out about the internal bleeding until later. My stomach felt distended and uncomfortable, but bloating is common in early pregnancy. I’ve always had digestive issues, so the G.I. symptoms and pressure weren’t all that uncommon, either. I think the real moment when I should have started feeling more alarmed was when I had intense pain and extreme pressure in my lower abdomen on one side.
I remember a moment where I was on my hands and knees on the bathroom floor. When I stood up, my legs shook uncontrollably and I had to try not to pass out. I went to the emergency room shortly after that; it was probably in those minutes that my tube ruptured fully. For the next 12 hours or so, some of the sharpest pain subsided, but there was a consistent throbbing, sick feeling in my stomach. It still took hours and hours to diagnose. So my advice would be to seek help immediately if you have pain like mine, and to ask the doctor early on if an ectopic pregnancy could be possible. I assumed that because I’d told the treating doctor in the emergency room that I was pregnant, they’d take the possibility into account, but sometimes (always, as someone with a uterus seeking care) you do have to push harder. Don’t dismiss it, or wait to see if it gets better, and ask to talk to the ob-gyn on call if you can’t see your own. The sooner treatment can be given, the better.
When I woke up from what I thought was an emergency appendectomy to a doctor telling me I’d actually been treated for an ectopic pregnancy, I was devastated. But I also knew that I was alive, that my fertility treatment didn’t depend on my fallopian tubes, and that I could probably try IVF again. In all the time spent trying to get pregnant, an ectopic pregnancy wasn’t an outcome I expected—and I thought I was prepared for all the worst possibilities: failed embryo transfers, miscarriages, complications, the works. But this one I didn’t see coming.
It’s important to realize ectopic pregnancy happens more than you’d think, and when it does, it can be life-threatening. I’m lucky to be healing well from that day. Every day I feel stronger. It’s a weird sensation, to feel lucky after having gone through what I did, but I received the care I needed in time. That’s a miracle in itself in this country right now.
Images: Sergey Filimonov /Stocksy.com
The day I decided to end my unborn child’s life at 27 weeks pregnant is forever burned in my memory. Subsequent to a week of fetal ultrasounds, MRIs, and amniocentesis, my husband and I sat in our OB’s office while I anxiously tapped my fingernails awaiting the results as to what could be the problem with our baby boy, considering every checkup up to this point had been blissfully uneventful.
As it turns out, he had severe brain abnormalities. The hemispheres of his brain had not properly formed together and a significant part of his frontal lobe was missing. He would undoubtedly face severe cognitive issues and it was fairly certain that he would never be able to speak, walk, or even breathe without medical intervention.
We were faced with the unimaginable decision of moving forward or ending the pregnancy. A decision that felt like a proverbial fork dividing the path of our entire existence.
Would I be able to submit myself to a life of such uncertainty? A life where I would have to constantly worry about who would take care of my child in my demise, a life where I could possibly not afford the health care necessary to care for a person with severe physical and mental disabilities? Would we be able to afford a house that’s wheelchair accessible? Would my marriage crumble under the stress? Would we be able to have more children given the fact that so much of our time and resources would probably be going to the needs of our firstborn?
Many people would say these concerns are all completely selfish, and they would be correct, but what felt even more selfish was bringing this child into this world when I knew he didn’t have a fair shot at a good life and to watch him suffer so I didn’t have to feel guilty about having an abortion.
Our decision was made.
Shortly after we ended the pregnancy, word seemed to travel fast and we were inundated with messages of (mostly) support from friends and family.
As we were trying hard to make peace with our decision, I received several texts and emails from various people in my life sending me pictures and videos of beautiful disabled children with big smiles on their faces, posing with their happy families, clearly trying to “debunk” my apparent “beliefs” that children with physical or mental disabilities were incapable of living happy, fulfilled lives.
Messages such as these, as well as politicians haphazardly slinging terms like “baby killer” around, sent me downward spiraling into a rabbit hole of depression which took months of therapy to crawl out of.
I am still working on breaking the stigma of having a late-term abortion, and the more open I am about my story, the easier it gets. Because that’s exactly what it is—my story. And while I have the utmost respect and admiration for anyone raising a child with significant disabilities, it simply wasn’t what I wanted for my life or the life of my unborn child.
In the wake of the assault on women’s rights in this country, I feel absolutely terrible for women who don’t or might not have the right to decide for themselves what is best for them, their family, or their unborn child as I did. People are so quick to judge as to what they would or wouldn’t do when faced with a life-altering decision such as having an abortion at any stage, and it’s one I hope you never have to face.
I made my decision, and I have no regrets.
Image: Gayatri Malhotra / Unsplash
It’s pretty lowkey, but last week, America made some pretty big decisions! Some of these were fun: Joe Biden became the President and ballot measures legalized weed in multiple states. Others were less fun: like the two states that voted on whether or not people with uteruses would get to retain their rights to bodily autonomy.
Colorado and Louisiana both had ballot measures referencing abortion rights and access, and I’m pretty sure you can guess how it ended up. Here’s a breakdown of where there’s good news and where there’s decidedly not.
Good News: Colorado
Honestly, Colorado’s been like the fun cousin during this entire election season. Not only did they flip a senate seat, replacing Republican Cory Gardner with Democrat John Hickenlooper, but voters in Colorado overwhelmingly rejected Proposition 115. If passed, the proposition would have introduced a ban on abortions after 22 weeks of pregnancy (about five and a half months) with exceptions for risks to the parent’s life.
Proposition 115 is the fourth failed ballot measure in the last 12 years that would have either restricted or banned abortion in Colorado, which is not entirely surprising given the state’s pro-choice history. According to The Denver Post, Colorado was the first state to decriminalize abortion. In 1967 a law was passed to allow abortion “in cases of rape, incest, if the woman’s health was threatened, or if the unborn child might have birth defects.”
TBH: I’m just hoping that Colorado clings on to their legacy as a pro-choice, pro-bodily autonomy icon and keeps setting an excellent example for their neighboring states.
Bad News: Louisiana
Now for the bad news. If you have Republican family members or acquaintances, you might be used to them asking you precisely what rights or liberties you have lost over the last few years. Well, at least now you have some clear-as-f*cking-day evidence to point to.
Louisiana voted to add an amendment to the state’s Declaration of Rights that could further restrict abortion access in the state. Because anti-abortion advocates love hiding behind the lie of being ‘pro-life,’ the text of the amendment is as follows:
“Nothing in this constitution shall be construed to secure or protect a right to abortion or require the funding of abortion.”
This amendment does not totally ban abortions in the state. Instead, it strengthened Louisiana’s trigger laws, which would immediately criminalize all abortions if Roe v. Wade was overturned. It also makes it so pro-choice advocates and organizations wouldn’t have much ground to sue on if abortion is prohibited since citizens no longer have any state right to access abortion according to the amendment. Their right to an abortion remains protected by Roe v. Wade, which holds that the federal constitution protects this right.
Again, as of right now, this is not an all-out ban on abortion access. There definitely should be more of them, but Louisiana still has three clinics that provide abortions.
Sidenote: Listen, this f*cking sucks and is so disheartening. But, before you go and make generalizations about the south and specifically the state of Louisiana, remember all of the young/progressive people doing really hard work down here. As a college student who has lived in New Orleans for four years, I have seen so many of my friends and residents of the city fighting for progressive change. We phone banked for Democratic Senate candidates and to educate voters on Amendment One. Change is too slow, but we’re working on it!
These two polar opposite states give us a glimpse into what the country may look like if (G-d forbid) Roe v. Wade was overturned. States will likely continue passing trigger laws to ban abortions or laws and amendments that reaffirm the right to choose on local and state levels.
In the meantime, if you’re wondering how you can help individuals in areas where abortion rights are at risk: check out NARAL’s website and local abortion funds like the New Orleans Abortion Fund.
I’m not sure whether or not this story can be categorized as good news or bad news. The limited nature of binaries fails us once again.
An…interesting new development in the history of Roe v. Wade has come to light this week, as a new FX documentary AKA Jane Roe about the woman known as Jane Roe was released. “Jane Roe” was the then-unnamed plaintiff in the landmark 1973 Supreme Court case that legalized abortion. Jane Roe was Norma McCorvey. McCorvey herself never actually got an abortion, but for years after, she was a part of the pro-choice movement. Then, in the ’90s, McCorvey suddenly flipped her stance and began speaking out against abortion. She claimed to be “born again” as an evangelical Christian, even despite her identity as a queer woman. A real bummer that we ultimately did hate to see.
Turns out that change of heart — like many elements of the anti-abortion rights movement — was all based on a lie.
In the film, McCorvey reveals that her shift to pro-life ideals in the 1990s was all a farce, and that she only claimed to be anti-abortion because she was paid. Yay?.
In AKA Jane Roe, a documentary about McCorvey’s complex life, she reveals why flipped and started doing live speeches for anti-abortion groups. “I think it was a mutual thing. I took their money, and they’d put me out in front of the cameras and tell me what to say. That’s what I’d say. It was all an act. I did it well too. I am a good actress.” A tit for tat, as they say.
In the documentary, McCorvey wants to set the record straight while she has the chance — she passed away in 2017, before the movie was released. She says, “If a young woman wants to have an abortion, that’s no skin off my ass. That’s why they call it choice,” she said in her colorful “deathbed confession.”
Aside from the fact that it’s not just “young” women who need to end pregnancies, I can only hope my last words include the phrase “no skin off my ass.”
McCorvey’s shift to the opposing side of the abortion movement was disappointing, but it wasn’t random. In one of the interviews in AKA Jane Roe, McCorvey explains the resentment she felt towards the left-wing feminists who often looked down on her. They felt she was too uneducated to give public speeches, and instead wanted to use her as a silent symbol for the movement, without ever really treating her as wholly human. Naturally, McCorvey was turned off by that.
McCorvey was, in fact, uneducated. She came from poverty, and had endured abuse throughout her life. She represented the kind of woman who is often left behind in America, especially when it comes to reproductive rights. And yet, the leftwing feminists who fought for her still didn’t treat her with respect. In a sense, they used her too, just as the evangelicals did. So, I guess McCorvey went to the people who were going to pay her.
There’s a lesson here, that I *hope* we can remember. On the left, we often claim to be for the working class, but too often, that’s just symbolic. And that is how we lose their support.
People don’t want to be part of a movement that looks down on them. Why would they? Food for thought!
Image: mark reinstein / Shutterstock.com
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If you think politicians would put trying to take reproductive rights away from people on hold during a global health crisis…think again, bitch! Several states are trying to ban abortions, deeming them as “non-essential” during the COVID-19 pandemic, and one has done so successfully. Because a time-sensitive procedure that will affect the rest of a person’s life and is not essential. Sure, Jan.
On Tuesday, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals threw out a lower court ruling that would block the temporary abortion ban in Texas, following a long legal battle between the state and reproductive rights groups. The judges noted that the state has the power to restrict resident’s rights, such as peaceful assembly, during an emergency, and that “abortion is no exception.” As a result, nearly all abortions are banned in Texas.
This fight did not begin on Tuesday for Texas. This all began on March 22, when Texas Governor. Greg Abbott issued an executive order banning abortions during the coronavirus outbreak, deeming them medically unnecessary and claiming they use up valuable medical supplies. After reproductive rights group sued the state and secured a temporary pause on the ban, the circuit court this week ruled against them to allow it.
Republican-appointed judges in Texas wrote that the state is allowed to “to restrict, for example, one’s right to assemble peacefully, to publicly worship, to travel, and even to leave one’s home” in a public health emergency and that therefore: “The right to abortion is no exception.”
So they agree it is abortion is a right, and one they are choosing to allow the governor to curtail. Excellent. We’ll remember that.
Planned Parenthood and the Center for Reproductive rights said they’re reviewing their legal options and may attempt to take the case up to the United States Supreme Court. The ban is set to expire on April 21, and states that a medical professional who provided an abortion before then could be fined $1,000 or face jail time of up to 180 days. For sure what we should be focusing our energy on rn, great job everyone.
To anyone seeking abortion care right now, we see you, we trust you, and we support you.
Abortion is 𝙚𝙨𝙨𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙖𝙡. It is not something that can be delayed or forgone without serious impacts on the pregnant person’s health and life. #MyRightMyDecision #SustainingCommunity pic.twitter.com/V181IhRGke
— Center for Reproductive Rights (@ReproRights) April 8, 2020
The problem here is that abortion is incredibly time-sensitive, so, uh, maybe it should be an exception? Just a thought. It’s also worth noting that this decision claims to be based on the fact that abortion is “medically unnecessary” and would use up supplies needed to treat COVID-19 patients, but the reality is that the most common method early in pregnancy is administering medication abortion. This requires no medical gear. In fact, the ban on abortion would simply delay this process, which would then force people to seek a surgical abortion or give birth. And what do you know, both of those procedures require more medical resources
Other states that are trying to impose similar bans are Alabama, Iowa, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Oklahoma. Did you really think Alabama would miss a chance to fuck shit up for womxn’s right? Abortion rights groups have acted immediately to get some of these bans lifted, and so far judges have sided with them in Alabama, Oklahoma and Ohio.
Banning abortion is taking away fundamental human rights, period. But to use a pandemic as an excuse to do it is especially heinous. This is a time when people are losing their jobs, and consequently, their health insurance. Denying them access to abortions at a time like this is asking them to completely throw away their livelihoods.
Plus, we all know banning abortions does not stop abortions. It simply creates more harm.
First of all, people who can’t get their abortions in the states banning them will likely travel to other states to get what they need. Crossing state lines is not ideal during a time when we are asking people to stay at home, and could lead to further spreading of COVID-19.
People seeking abortion care in West Virginia would need to drive much further to reach a clinic due to the state's #COVID19 abortion ban. This is shameful & puts the health & well-being of patients at risk in the middle of a pandemic. #AbortionIsEssential pic.twitter.com/qpfO3FYveL
— Guttmacher Institute (@Guttmacher) April 8, 2020
Or, people will be forced to try to conduct abortions illegally and unsafely. Research shows that after Roe V. Wade was passed in 1973, the number of deaths associated with illegal abortion decreased dramatically. Banning abortion doesn’t stop abortions from happening, it simply makes them more dangerous and leads to more deaths. So, if you’re pro-life, lives might be something you want to consider.
It’s scary how quickly lawmakers jumped at the chance of using a pandemic as an excuse to take our rights away. It reminds us that we can’t stop paying attention to this shit, even in a time like this, when everything feels overwhelming. Of course, give yourself breaks and practice self-care, but stay vigilant.
Anyway, I’m sure Republicans will agree to give all the womxn who can’t get abortions because of these bans a $500 check as part of the coronavirus stimulus because their fetus is actually a child.
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It is with great displeasure that I must tell you that a proposed bill to outlaw abortions after a heartbeat is detected in South Carolina has gone through its first round of approval after Republican Senators stripped away exceptions for women who have become pregnant from rape or incest. We. Hate. To. See. It.
In case you’re not mad enough already, let me give you a lil’ push: the bill was approved by the Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee which consists of six men and one woman. One — count her — one woman. Glad to see women’s bodies, lives, and fates are constantly in the hands of men who couldn’t point out the clitoris on a labeled map.
The proposal must be passed by the full Medical Affairs committee next, and then can make its way to the Senate floor, where it will *hopefully* will face a lot of backlash, preferably too much backlash.
Unfortunately, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has said that he will sign the bill into law if it is passed by the Senate.
Even before the recent removal of exceptions for rape and incest, this bill was already scary AF. It would make it illegal for doctors to perform abortions after a heartbeat is detected, which is typically around 6 weeks, aka before most women know they are pregnant. This would outlaw about 55 percent of abortions performed in South Carolina.
The bill is, of course, part of a larger plan for pro-lifers to get an abortion case to the newly conservative-leaning Supreme Court (thanks to frat boy Brett K), where they are hoping Roe V. Wade can be overturned. So far most laws similar to this have been blocked by Federal Judges, but it’s still horrifying to see lawmakers come together and try to find ways to strip women of the right to control what happens in our own f*cking bodies. Like, can these old dudes get another hobby besides trying to desperately control women? That would be great, thanks.
Images: Giphy (2)
As a woman, I can’t recall a time (before childhood) when I didn’t feel as if my body and my rights were up for debate — if not under attack. But now, with a president who has been accused of sexual assault and rape by upwards of 25 women, an accused sexual predator in the Supreme Court, and access to abortion being chipped away in states like Alabama, Texas, Georgia, and Missouri, I am experiencing the legitimate fear that my body and my choice might actually be taken away from me by federal law.
As women, we have been fighting for our rights for a long time, but since Roe v. Wade determined that we had the right to abortion in 1973, we at least have been able to say we have the legal right to decide what happens when we get pregnant. This is not to say it’s a right we haven’t had to continuously and rigorously defend, but it has at least stood in place. As a woman of privilege, I have always felt that if I needed to get an abortion, I could. But now, with the newly conservative-leaning Supreme Court, I have found myself asking, “What would happen if abortion became illegal? What would I do if I got pregnant? What would this mean for American women?”
A powerful new film called Ask For Jane explored and answered these questions for me, as well as made me ugly cry on my couch while reflecting on the resilience of women. It’s a film we should all watch like, yesterday, and I’d like to tell you why.
Ask For Jane follows a group of women who took matters into their own hands when abortion was illegal in most states throughout the 1960s. The film is based on a true story and is set in Chicago, where a group of college women created an underground network that helped women with unwanted pregnancies get abortions. The women were known as “The Jane Collective” because they referred to themselves as Jane and instructed women to call them on their secret landline and to “ask for Jane.” This was the code that was used to perform an estimated 11,000 safe abortions for women who couldn’t afford to travel to the few places where abortion was legal. We god damn f*cking love to see it.
A film that shows women banding together and building an incredibly organized and highly effective system that helps keep women safe and in control of their bodies is obviously very inspiring, but it also serves as a warning, or as producer Caroline Hirsch told Betches: “This is a reminder of what could happen.”
The opening scene of the movie shows a desperate pregnant woman punching herself in the stomach and eventually jumping off of a building in order to terminate her pregnancy. It also shows us young middle school girls who discuss drinking rat poison; one ends up dying as a result. Additionally, we see a character with slit wrists because she is pregnant and doesn’t feel she can go through with it. As we know, when women aren’t given access to safe, legal abortions, many of them turn to unsafe alternatives, which can tragically lead to death.
Abortion saves lives, and this film reminds us of the dire situation that led these women to doing what they did. While what they did is amazing, we hope we never have to do it again, because too many lives are at stake.
The specific story told in Ask For Jane is inspiring because it shows a particular group of women in a particular place who were able to overcome the law’s attempt to strip them of their freedoms, but the film as a whole shows us a dark world where this freedom wasn’t available to most women — a world we ourselves are heading towards today. Hirsch told me, “This couldn’t be any timelier. We had a screening in New York this past May and when we were finished, everyone’s phones lit up because what had happened in Alabama, where it would be made a criminal offense if a woman was seeking an abortion or had an abortion.”
The film is made by women, which is apparent by its authenticity and clear understanding of the nuances of feminism and autonomy. Hirsch told us, “Of course this movie would be made by women. If it was up to men, this movie would never have been made. And of course the cast is made of women because it’s a true story of women. There were women behind and in front of the camera.”
The film is written and directed by Rachel Carey, and the original concept came from the film’s lead actress Cait Cortelyou. And while the premise’s main focus is abortion, it also gives us a close look at how other issues of feminism played a major role in how women were denied agency over their own bodies during this time.
For example, the main character, Rose (played by Cortelyou), attempts to obtain birth control from her doctor so she can practice safe sex with her fiancé. However, her doctor refuses to give it to her before she gets married, and when she tries to protest, he says he would need to speak to her male fiancé about it. Another character, Joyce (played by Sophie von Haselberg) sits idly by in her hospital bed while a group of male doctors discuss with her husband whether or not they should do a procedure on her that would save her life but endanger the baby growing inside of her. Another main character, Janice (played by Cody Horn) sums the significance of all of this up by saying, “Women will never truly be liberated unless they can control whether or not they are pregnant.”
You can stream Ask For Jane on a variety of platforms including Amazon Prime, Apple TV, iTunes, DirecTV and more, and I highly recommend that you do. It reminds us of the strength women have and the length we will go to and the risks we will take for no other reason than to protect to each other. It also sends an urgent and important message: the fight is here and now, and it’s time to get started.
As Hirsch told me: “The reason why we originally did this film was to tell the stories of very courageous women. More than ever, this film needs to be seen by every young girl today because they do not realize what could happen again and what is in the process of really happening right now in…Alabama, Georgia and Missouri. I think it’s a very important reminder that people need to use their writing privileges, voting privileges and get out to the polls to make sure that this doesn’t happen again.”
You know what to do.