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Mindy Woerter is a communications professional and mother who lives in Durham.
I had an abortion six years ago this month. I’ve shared my story many times since, and quite frankly, I’m tired of having to rehash my deeply personal experience to prove that I’m a whole human being worthy of the basic right of health care. Do I really have to talk about my reasons again? I think it’s enough to say that I – like the 99 percent of women who’ve had abortions –
was relieved and grateful to be able to get the abortion health care I needed.
My abortion is personal, and yet normal. One in four women will have one. And just like the majority of those women, I was already a mother. I’d already experienced pregnancy and knew the toll – physical, emotional, practical – it takes.
Contrary to what anti-abortion activists claim, being pregnant when you don’t want to be isn’t a minor inconvenience. For too many women in this country, pregnancy is deadly. Our maternal mortality rate is double that of most other high-income countries, and it’s rising. Abortion is vital, life-saving health care to which every pregnant person deserves access. And yet, if the Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade, abortion will likely become illegal in half the country, denying tens of millions of people this right.
Last weekend, I attended one of the many Bans Off Our Bodies rallies that happened across the state, heartened to see so many people – young, old and in between, of all genders – coming together to speak out for the right to abortion. People who’d never shown up to an event like that came to show their support. One couple I talked to said the issue was important to people close to them, so they were compelled to attend.
But plenty of attendees had been showing up for decades. I watched a pair of elderly women show off their handmade sign: “Now they’ve angered Grandma. VOTE!” I have no right to claim fatigue after my mere six years in reproductive rights activism.
My oldest daughter couldn’t come with me to the rally, but she wanted to know where I was going, so I explained it to her. As all 7-year-olds do, she had questions. She couldn’t understand why there are people who think they should decide what happens to my body, or hers, or anyone else’s. And I didn’t have the answers she deserves. How can I explain to her what I don’t fully understand it myself?
Why, when mass shootings and horrific acts of violence against people of color, women and LBGTQ folks dominate the headlines, do Republicans continue to treat uteruses as the real threat? Why, when parents are desperately seeking formula and affordable childcare, and breastfeeding working mothers are being harassed by the TSA, and we still don’t have paid parental leave, are conservatives clamoring for more births against our will? (The chilling defense “domestic supply of infants” rings in my ears.) And why, in this self-purported greatest country in the world, are we poised to strip my daughters of the rights I grew up with?
It’s important now more than ever that Mainers heed the call of the angry grandmas and vote in November for lawmakers who will keep abortion safe, accessible and affordable. Under the leadership of Gov. Janet Mills, the Legislature has protected and expanded access to abortion care, an incredible accomplishment I was proud to have participated in.
Ask your candidates for governor, Legislature and town council what they’ll do to protect abortion. We must ensure that Maine remains a place where everyone, regardless of gender and gender identity, race, income, insurance provider and zip code, can get the abortion care they need.
It’s no time to be tired. The stakes are higher than ever. I’ll continue to fight, for my kids and yours, until we ensure the right to bodily autonomy for everyone. Our kids deserve nothing less – and the grandmas have fought long enough.