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Alabama’s Abortion Ban: What’s Happening, Why It Matters, and What You Can Do

Alabama's Abortion Ban: What's Happening, Why It Matters, What You Can Do

Yesterday, Alabama signed into law the most restrictive abortion bill in the country — with no exceptions for rape or incest. We wanted to break down exactly what’s happening and how it could affect every woman’s future…

What’s happening in Alabama?

On Wednesday, May 15th, Alabama governor Kay Ivey signed into law the most restrictive abortion bill in the country: a near-total ban on the procedure, with no exceptions for rape or incest. Under the legislation, doctors could face up to 99 years in prison for performing an abortion.

The law allows exceptions only “to avoid a serious health risk to the unborn child’s mother,” for ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilized egg attaches itself in a place other than inside the uterus), and if the “unborn child has a lethal anomaly.”

(When asked what would happen under the bill to a child who was a victim of incest and discovered she was pregnant, Republican Alabama state senator Clyde Chambliss, said that, while the young girl would have to carry and birth the baby, he hoped she could get mental help. “What I hope is, if we pass this bill, that all young ladies would be educated by their parents, their guardians that should a situation like this occur, you need to go get help — you need to do it immediately,” Chambliss said.)

Also, it’s important to note and spread the word: Abortion services are still safe, legal and available in Alabama right now. The bill will not take effect until at least six months after becoming law.

Is Alabama the only state where this is happening?

Alabama’s law is the most extreme, making no exception for rape and incest victims and criminalizing doctors who perform abortions, but other states have passed so-called “heartbeat bills” (banning abortion once a cardiac rhythm can be detected in an embryo — to be medically accurate, there is no actual heart yet — which usually happens around six weeks, an early stage when many women won’t even yet know they are pregnant), including Ohio, Kentucky, Mississippi and Georgia. Controversial restrictions are also being considered in states including Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Utah, Arkansas, West Virginia, Missouri and Indiana. (Here is a breakdown of state-by-state restrictions.) Another big issue overall is access: because of regulations specifically targeting abortion clinics, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia now each have only one abortion clinic left statewide, making access especially difficult for the young, rural and poor.

Why is this happening now? What could it mean for the future?

Politicians who are supporting the bill actually have a larger overall goal in mind.

Conservative states are passing more extreme abortion legislation right now for one major reason: the ultimate goal is to get the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark ruling that recognized a constitutional right for a woman to end a pregnancy, and legalized abortion nationwide. For instance, if the Alabama anti-abortion bill is contested (the ACLU has already sworn to sue), then the case will likely rise up through the courts to the Supreme Court. With Trump’s appointments of conservative justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh, the court now has a conservative majority. So, anti-abortion advocates see this as the right time to pass bills that are likely to be challenged and end up in front of the Supreme Court.

These anti-abortion laws are being passed with the direct goal of challenging Roe v. Wade.

Alabama governor Kay Ivey said as much in her official statement: “No matter one’s personal view on abortion, we can all recognize that, at least for the short term, this bill may similarly be unenforceable. As citizens of this great country, we must always respect the authority of the U.S. Supreme Court even when we disagree with their decisions. Many Americans, myself included, disagreed when Roe v. Wade was handed down in 1973. The sponsors of this bill believe that it is time, once again, for the U.S. Supreme Court to revisit this important matter, and they believe this act may bring about the best opportunity for this to occur.”

Will Roe v. Wade definitely be overruled if this case makes it to the Supreme Court?

It’s not entirely clear. But with five conservative justices on the court and four liberal ones, it’s not an exaggeration to say that a woman’s constitutional right to end a pregnancy is seriously threatened. (The New York Times reports that changes are likely to be more incremental in a court led by Chief Justice John Roberts, who has shown restraint when overruling precedent.)

What are some of the reasons a woman may want or need an abortion?

If the woman is a victim of rape or incest. If the unborn fetus or the woman has health problems. If the birth would cause psychological trauma. If the woman can not afford a child. If having a child dramatically interferes with a woman’s education, work or ability to care for her dependents. If birth control fails, and the woman does not want a child. Because it’s her choice and her body.

But what if you, personally, oppose abortion?

Many people who oppose abortion want to stop abortion by making it illegal. But the truth is, making abortion illegal doesn’t stop abortion. It just makes it less safe. Evidence has shown, time and time again, that women will continue getting abortions in places where it’s illegal — they just have to do it under illegal, unsafe conditions. Thousands of women die of complications from unsafe abortions every year, and many others suffer major long-term health problems, including infection and hemorrhaging. “This hurts women, their families and their communities, but it does little to reduce abortion,” says the Center for American Progress.

A better way to reduce abortion is to reduce unintended pregnancies.

The rate of abortions naturally declines when the number of unintended pregnancies declines. According to researchers, the biggest driver for abortion decline is increased access to contraception. (“Colorado, for example, provided birth control for little or no cost to low-income women across the state,” reports Vox. “Between 2009 and 2013, it saw the state’s teen pregnancy rate decline by more than 40 percent— the sharpest drop in the country over that time period.”)

Other ways to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies, according to the Center for American Progress: comprehensive sex education that includes medically accurate information about abstinence and contraception; insurance coverage of and public funding for family planning services; greater access to emergency contraception (which prevents pregnancy and does not cause abortion); and programs that help curb domestic violence and sexual abuse.

What can we do to help?

Donate. The ACLU, Planned Parenthood and NARAL are all fighting to defend a woman’s right to end a pregnancy safely and legally. The National Network of Abortion Funds helps remove financial and logitical barriers for low-income people seeking abortions. And in Alabama, The Yellowhammer Fund helps women in Alabama with medical costs, travel and a place to stay, if they need and/or want an abortion. (Alabama has only three abortion clinics, plus demanding state hurdles and waiting periods.)

“Alabama politicians will forever live in infamy for this vote, and we will make sure that every woman knows who to hold accountable,” said Staci Fox, the president of Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates. “In the coming days, we will be mounting the fight of our lives — we will take this to court and ensure abortion remains safe and legal.”

Volunteer. Help support Planned Parenthood’s work by volunteering at a clinic or by making calls from home. You can sign up here.

Get local. You can find local ways to help, based on where you live, in this great Twitter thread.

Please leave suggestions of other ways to help, below. Thank you so much for reading. xo

(Photo by the Associated Press of a march in Washington, D.C., of women demanding legalized abortion, 1971, via the New York Times.)

  1. Laura says...

    I am pro choice because in my opinion there is nothing more sad to me than an unwanted child in the world. And when that child’s birth is forced upon a mother that doesn’t want to be a mother, I can’t imagine the amount of pain and suffering that follows.
    What, honestly, is more sad than that?

    • Aneta says...

      YES. As hard as I try I cannot understand anyone supporting LIFE at all costs – from rape, from incest. I don’t get it. And I’d like to ask those that have the view that all life is sacred from the moment of conception – does this extend to the death penalty, given that Alabama in some years executes more people than Texas?

  2. Nathalie says...

    May all women who are facing these difficult choices find peace and may we all work together to support whatever choice they make.
    Thank you for this well-written piece, Joanna.

  3. Annie says...

    Thank you for this thorough post. It’s insane to think about the need of control on the lawmakers end. I’m very much pro life but also pro choice, to an extent, and I have a legit question. Viability of a baby outside the womb is 22 weeks gestation, first hand witness to my now 4year old. Is there a dialogue somewhere (Congress person supporting this or something like that) protecting the rights of women to terminate a pregnancy but also protects the rights of a viable fetus? While I fully agree on a women’s choice to choose, I think the right to choose should end once they’re interfering with a life. I understand the need for abortion in some circumstances, but there’s got to be a cutoff to protect the baby. Thanks in advance!

    • Annie says...

      And I mean something like Switzerland has where (I believe) abortions are legal through the first trimester, something like that

    • Lindsay says...

      I think meeting in the middle like that would be a great start, legal only until 12 weeks along. Thanks for your comment, people seem to be disagreeing about when it becomes a “life”. I believe it’s at conception.

    • Jeb says...

      Uh, yeah… This has pretty much always been the case. At no point have we been going around blithely performing late term abortions on perfectly healthy viable babies. Late and mid term abortions have always been restricted, and it’s been under constant discussion since Roe vs Wade first came to court.

  4. Charlotte says...

    I am so so sorry for every woman who suffers and will suffer because of this bill. It’s horrible. (I live in Belgium, so I don’t have any idea how that must feel.)

    But also, a thought keeps going through my head: isn’t this how ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ began…?

  5. Anon says...

    I am a feminist but I am also a Christian, and truthfully this has always been a complicated issue for me. I feel pro about both choice and life! So at least this Alabama ruling gives me some moral clarity on this issue at last, because I definitely do not think God would want a child to be forced by the government to give birth to her rapists baby. Hard no to that!

    • Laura says...

      Anon, thank you for posting. I’m sincerely curious about the thought process behind the statement “because I definitely do not think God would want a child to be forced by the government to give birth to her rapists baby.”

      If you see this, I hope you’re willing to take the time to help me understand where you’re coming from. Some questions I have off the top of my head are:

      1. What would make God not want a baby to be born?
      2. If a baby were to be born in difficult circumstances, would that baby be less inherently valuable or worthy of respect than another baby?
      3. Is a difficult life intrinsically not worth living?
      4. Is a difficult or uncomfortable beginning definitive of a person’s entire life and worth?

      I would love to discuss, for real.

  6. Rebecca says...

    I know Cup of Jo is a very liberal platform, and I don’t expect many to share my views, but when I had a high risk pregnancy, I was GLAD I didn’t have a choice. A medical doctor suggesting termination would have been horribly tempting in my emotionally distraught state. I am glad I live in Poland where most abortion is illegal, women have free pre- and post-natal care, a year of maternity leave and generous financial stipends to families with 2+ kids. I hope that when outlawing abortion in America, they at the same time institute policies that help care for women and their babies. That is truly pro-life <3

  7. Caroline says...

    Thank you Joanna and team COJ. This was a really courageous choice, and thank you for fostering a community where womxn can feel safe to have these conversations.

    Hugs to you all.

  8. Judy says...

    Thank you so much for posting this. Brava to you and all the CoJ team.

  9. Julie says...

    Thank you SO MUCH for posting about this!! I am a mother of two, and becoming a parent was a choice…. and while I have never had an abortion I’m SO GLAD that access to safe abortions is legal. Every time I see anti-choice people protesting (I hope y’all are vegetarians, have adopted a couple of kids yourself, and are against the death penalty too, ‘pro-lifers’) I donate to Planned Parenthood. When they tend to go on a spree of it in June (always around high schools), it hurts the pocketbook but makes me feel so much better.

  10. Rosana says...

    From a spanish reader I would like to send all my support. You and your team are brave women. Thank you.

  11. L says...

    Thank you so much! A great post. It’s horrifying what is happening right now.

  12. Kate says...

    Thank you for posting this. As a Canadian I am grateful for our health care system but heartbroken and devastated to see what’s happening in the States. Keep fighting, and we’ll keep sharing and creating discussions up here as much as we can. <3

  13. Anni says...

    As a reader from Germany I cannot wrap my head around the fact that this state still has people in the death row waiting to be executed, but women are suposed to endure whatever to protect a fetus and deal with the consequences no matter what.

    It is really sad and so unfair and bossy, to take the choice away from us women. Having an abortion is probably never an easy way. Never ever. It haunts you, even if the choice was right. So please, give back the women the right to chose.

    And that politicians (am man!) comment… I can’t even tell you how bad that makes me!!

    Thank you, thank you, thank you, for addressing such a controversial topic! In the modern feminist world there is only one right side!

    • Michelle Bengson says...

      Thank you Joanna and CoJ team! Bravo!

  14. Kim says...

    Thank you for this. The facts are this state, like many others that are ‘pro-life’ has the worst record on childcare, health care availability and education. They also actively limit sex education and what can be taught. It’s all kinds of backwards and it’s not pro- life at all. They say they care about the fetus, but once it’s on the planet they don’t give a damn. Fact is, it’s all about controlling women and keeping them down. You bet there would be no such laws if they affected men’s choices.

    • Alice says...

      Respectfully, the argument that “pro-lifers don’t care about women and fetuses after they are born” is absurd and I’m tired of reading it. It’s just simply not true.

      Pro-life people I know donate thousands upon thousands of dollars to organizations that directly support women and their children – helping them with medical expenses, baby supplies, parenting classes, relationship counseling, housing needs, job skills, education, and more. They take on pregnant patients pro bono, participate in foster care, help a single mother out with childcare, and would drop everything at a moment’s notice to assist a woman who finds herself in a difficult pregnancy in whatever way she needs, short of helping her get an abortion.

      I think in most cases, pro-lifers don’t support the healthcare/education/childcare policies often referenced in this tired argument because they believe the government to be an inefficient vehicle for delivery of these social services – not because they don’t support women and children.

  15. Alison says...

    Thank you for your post Joanna <3

  16. Jillian says...

    I’m pro-choice through and through, I think these laws are harmful, and I’m absolutely frustrated with all the money and energy that’s being sucked away from preventing unwanted pregnancy and protecting victims, and being hurtled into the vast cultural chasm of abortion that we all find ourselves planted firmly on either side of. Even reading through these comments from thoughtful and passionate women, it is painfully obvious that we are a thoroughly divided lot.

    I was wondering if you guys had stumbled upon this Vox piece.
    It was part of a collection of pieces by “experts” about things we’ll consider unthinkable in 50 years, and some of them were kind of no-brainers like tackle football, or the concept of bosses. Like, I can see the trajectory here. But this one on abortion really stopped me in my tracks and has given me a lot of pause as this debate ramps up.

    https://www.vox.com/2019/3/27/18194710/abortion-will-be-considered-unthinkable-50-years-from-now

    I’m not necessarily saying it has changed my mind, or how I’ll vote, but it has stuck with me. Right now, viability is such a large part of the argument for abortion. But as we all know, science and technology will evolve and who knows what will be possible. Embryos grown to term out side the womb? Embryos safely and non-invasively removed and transplanted?

    There is so much grey in this moral debate that’s presented to us in black and white, and I only see it getting even more grey in the future….

    • Elizabeth says...

      The author of that article–Karen Swallow Prior–is an evangelical foot soldier. She’s a professor at Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, and that alone should negate a lot of what she says. I’m an ex-evangelical, so let me not mince words: these people are intent on overturning Roe, and they have been for decades now. Everything they write and argue is with that intention. They have a narrow-understanding of the reality of women’s lives and bodies, and they are committed to a patriarchal power structure in a theocratic United States. Take them seriously at their word. Peace!

    • jules says...

      Elizabeth’s reply is the most important thing I’ll read today. Thank you.

    • Grace says...

      This is a pretty gross, bad-faith take. Viability is not the biggest part of the abortion debate. It’s about a person’s right not be forced to give birth. Anti-choicers are the ones talking about “viability” and they’re usually just making up absolute bullshit, as Prior does in this article you’ve linked.

    • RP says...

      Centring viability decentres women. Thank you Elizabeth for flagging the background of the author of this piece. I live in the UK. Most people (outside of Northern Ireland) assume our abortion rights are a safe deal but in fact the language of viability is the cloak that figures within the Conservative party use to make their arguments for limiting our rights seem reasonable.

    • SB says...

      Some women have abortions for reasons of the baby’s “viability.” Some women have abortions for reasons related to their own viability. Couples and families have abortions for all kinds of reasons. This is not just about what science can do for us as women, it’s about being able to make medical and personal decisions for ourselves. I hope that taking away people’s abilities to ask for the medical treatment they desire will be unthinkable in 50 years.

    • Annie says...

      I’ve also thought recently about how if medical technology is able to allow us to safely remove an embryo at any point in a pregnancy and keep it alive, the abortion debate is null (or, changes dramatically I suppose). I agree that knowing who the author is of a particular article is important (sources people!), however, I would hesitate to negate everything someone says just because we disagree with them – isn’t it better to try to assume the best intentions about those on opposite sides? Isn’t it important to fully and completely understand another person’s perspective if you hope to effectively communicate your perspective with them? Isn’t this outright rejection of another person’s thoughts why the chasm is so great? My friends who are pro-life believe fervently that the embryo is a baby who didn’t do anything to deserve to have it’s life ended. I understand that. My friends who are pro-choice have had to make heart-breaking decisions to end non-viable pregnancies and feel that it’s an intensely personal, private decision they want the autonomy to make. I understand that.

    • Laura says...

      Elizabeth, I’m a little baffled by your assertion that evangelicals have a narrow understanding of the reality of women’s lives and bodies. Aren’t at least half of evangelicals women, with lives and bodies? How could they not be familiar with their own reality?

      I would love to get a deeper understanding of what you meant when you said that, because at face value it seems like a carte-blanche negation of an entire demographic group (women included!) which is neither accurate or helpful in nuanced conversations like this.

  17. anon says...

    thank you so much for this post! reading the comments has given me the words to express how disgusted I am with this law. I can’t believe this is the world we live in today.
    I’m a relatively healthy woman, married, financial ok enough to have a child – but currently dealing with chronic pain and the depression that comes with being in constant pain and losing my independence. It is difficult for me to walk, sit, stand, bend – and as much as I am eager and filled with baby fever- my body could not manage a pregnancy right now. If I were to be pregnant in one of those abortion banning states, I would end up bedridden, depressed, and probably hospitalized for the mental health issues from being isolated and bedridden for 9 months, in pain.

  18. Anon says...

    Bravo CoJ!

  19. Bottom line for me, as crass as it may sound:

    Outlawing abortion is not going to prevent men from having sex with and impregnating women. I’d love to see some accountability thrown in THAT direction, as opposed to all of the blame, shame and danger placed squarely upon the shoulders of women and physicians.

    • Alexandra says...

      Yes. You are correct. Thank you for putting it so clearly.

    • SB says...

      Preach. Something that I saw really made me stop and think: why don’t men all get reversible vasectomies until they’re ready for kids? Is it because they don’t want someone to tell them what to do with their bodies? I think it was meant as a joke but… my mind sparked.

    • Justine Clark says...

      Word!

    • Christine says...

      YES.

    • katie says...

      YES.

      And you know what? I think what we’ve been conditioned to leave unsaid is part & parcel of the whole scheme to keep women down!

    • Courtney says...

      I just read a thought provoking article about this exact same issue. The headline is pretty provocative and even some of the quotes within the article. But I think the point the author is trying to make is shifting the conversation. Shifting the blame. Weather you agree with her statements or not, it certainly stops and makes you think: why aren’t men being held responsible for these unwanted pregnancies and why does the blame, consequence, punishment and mental anguish automatically get put on the woman? While it certainly takes two to tango, an unwanted pregnancy literally cannot happen without the man’s ejaculation. He’s just as responsible (even more so when that ejaculation happens during unwanted sex).

    • Alice says...

      Historically, that accountability has been called “marriage.”

  20. Marcelle says...

    Thank you, Jo!

  21. Vero says...

    Thank you for taking a stand and using your platform to effect change in line with your values. I have seen over the years that many of your readers are religious and anti-choice, so I’m sure it’s always nerve wracking to post something like this, even though it’s the right thing to do.

    In the comments, many people saying “but it’s a human!” Of course the embryo is a human embryo. Humans create human embryos, not canine embryos or another species. However, the question is of PERSONHOOD. Is it is person? However, the person who is gestating this embryo or fetus is UNDENIABLY a person, there is no question. This person deserves bodily autonomy, to be trusted that they know what is best for themselves and their family. They deserve to make this decision on their own or in collaboration with their doctor and/or partner if they want that input.

    I’ve done in-home childcare for the past 10 years while going through school. I’ve seen firsthand for so many families what it takes to be a parent. The number one most important thing is wanting to be a parent! A child who is loved and wanted and respected is a child who is set up for a better life. We do a huge disservice to our children and hurt their emotional beings if we don’t want them. Our children deserve childhoods they don’t have to recover from.

    And with the broken foster system… don’t get me started. While there are stories of beautiful fostering and adoption situations, much of it is a complete nightmare. For any person saying “just give birth and then give the baby for adoption/foster” I bet never in one MILLION years would you ever be okay putting your own child into the system.

    Until we can eliminate every reason that people have for abortions (including “I don’t want to be pregnant” and “I don’t want to raise a child”) abortion will happen. We should reduce the number of abortions as much as possible, not by banning abortion but by doing everything we can to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, which includes comprehensive sex education, sex-positivity, affordable and easy access to all types of contraception, reducing the instances of rape, more effective prosecution of rape in the justice system, etc etc etc. The list goes on….

    • Kristina Grob says...

      YES.

  22. FR says...

    Thank you for this. I always wonder if anti abortion people see embryos as human life, then do they also believe fertility clinics are mass murderers. It’s extreme I’m sure but if you’re OK with fertility clinics discarding 8 or 10 or 20 embryos in favor of 1 but not OK with a woman eliminating an unwanted/unviable embryo then the reason you are anti-abortion is all about controlling women’s bodies.

    • Margaret says...

      As a pro-life woman who has done IVF twice, let me assure you that discarding multiple embryos in favor of one is not the norm. Most people are not able to create many embryos, and they use what they have. Most of the pro-life people I know do believe that embryos are also persons, and should not be discarded or donated to science if you can’t transfer them yourself. They would consider that murder.

    • Rebecca says...

      Catholics believe IVF is wrong, for many reasons – including that embryos are discarded. So yes, it parallels outright abortion in many ways.

    • Madeline says...

      FR, thank you. You’re absolutely right: IVF clinics routinely dispose of embryos, yet I’ve never seen or even heard of people protesting those clinics. Proving yet again that “morality” plays no role in this conversation.

      While I believe that some followers can have good intentions, the pro-life movement centers around a political agenda that controls and harms women. Thank you, CoJ, for bringing this to light and explaining this with the compassion and thoughtfulness I know I’ll get from your blog.

    • H says...

      Eta, i am pro choice and pro ivf and pro science.

    • H says...

      Or we can look at the actual science. 80%. Mental calisthenics can help reconcile the two positions. Because otherwise, you would need to be anti-ivf as well. (And i believe that extremist faction does exist).

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5306416/

    • Wendy says...

      “let me assure you that discarding multiple embryos in favor of one is not the norm” – No, it is *absolutely* the norm to have an excess of embryos as long as they can be produced. Many women with normal ovarian reserve and function do IVF for many reasons, and will produce many viable eggs and embryos.

      The clinic usually seeks to develop 8-15 follicles in patients with normal ovarian reserve. From there, they expect 60-80% to develop into eggs and 60-80% to fertilize into embryos. It’s not unusual to have 13 eggs retrieved, 10 mature, and 8 fertilized embryos, then they wait and grade the embryos after 3-5 days and transfer only the 1-4 best ones. The others are discarded or stored, sometimes donated. (The storage issue is a big one right now because people pay to have them stored sometimes for quite a long time.)

    • Marisa says...

      So Margaret— if extra embryos are people as much as you and I are people, it’s okay for them to spend their entire “life” in a freezer if they are never used? There’s no doubt they have the potential to become people and that kids who start out this way are no different than those who were conceived the old fashioned way. But understand that your judgment that those of us who have had or provide abortions are murderers is no different than you being judged for the resources you spent on IVF when they are so many kids in foster care. We all have the right to choose when to have or not have children without judgment

    • LK says...

      To Margaret, my sister had multiple embryos during the IVF process which the doctor then examined and discovered they all had severe genetic problems. They would not be viable, or if they did become viable, they would die right after birth. No one would wish that on their worst enemy, let alone a child. This may not be the norm but it definitely can happen. Pro-choice gives women options for their health care. It doesn’t condemn them or their children to suffering.

  23. Sue Aberbach says...

    Thank you for using your forum to bring attention to this vital issue. I respect you for taking this stand.

  24. Allison says...

    Just commenting to send you some love. This is was a brave choice and I am glad you and your team made it.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, allison.

    • Natalie says...

      x1,000,000. Thank you!

    • Heather says...

      Same, same, same – thank you for being such a leader on this. It’s really appreciated.

    • Sarah says...

      I agree. I was so impressed to see this today.

    • Michelle says...

      Ditto.

    • Jess West says...

      Well done for posting this. From the uk where birth control is free! And abortion is legal. I am horrified and saddened that this vote can even take place. No woman takes the decision to have an abortion lightly. Sickened that these “men” can think we do. Hideous times for the USA, fight on.

  25. Kathy says...

    Alabama has the 4th highest number of death row inmates in the US (182); last night they executed the second person this year by lethal injection. The hypocrisy is staggering.

  26. E says...

    Are you including the quote by Chambliss about hoping the child could get mental health help as something that is supposed to sound sympathetic?

    If so, SERIOUSLY????? Why isn’t Chambliss talking about prosecuting the perpetrator?

    If you didn’t mean it this way, why even include this second part of Chambliss’s comment?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i was including it to show how INSANE it is that you’d expect a young girl who was raped by her father to carry and birth that baby — and then say “but i hope she’d learn to turn to her parents for help.” i was hoping the quote would come across as absolutely appalling.

    • Allison says...

      It read as appalling me. I got what you were going for.

    • E says...

      Thanks for accepting my comment, Joanna. Not sure why I’m not able to reply to your comment so I’m replying to mine. The quote was appalling to me, but I was confused why it was dangling there. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on it.

      I really appreciate that you posted this, especially this awesome reflection on why a woman would get an abortion: “Because it’s her choice and her body.” To me, that’s the bottom line in the argument and I was glad to read it again in this midst of this nightmare.

  27. Samantha says...

    YES!!! I’m pro life as well but it frustrates me when people say that means I don’t care about the women with unwanted pregnancies. We should be supported both unborn children and mothers, and trying to prevent these unwanted pregnancies. A holistic view of the situation is needed.

    • Nicole says...

      I am wondering if you are aware of all the already born unsupported children and teens. The needs out there are too many to list.

  28. Gemma Burgess says...

    Thank you for posting about this – love you and love all the wise and wonderful women who love you, too.

  29. Jen says...

    “Thousands of women die of complications from unsafe abortions every year, and many others suffer major long-term health problems, including infection and hemorrhaging.”

    Is there a statistic on this?

    • Gemma says...

      You might also like to read this about unsafe abortions around the world: https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/lack-of-safe-abortion-provision-a-global-health-issue-1.3816662
      “At least 22,000 women and girls die from unsafe abortion each year, making it one of the top five direct causes of maternal mortality. On top of this number, an estimated seven million women and girls suffer long-term consequences from unsafe abortion, including serious side effects and lifelong disability. Sadly, these numbers are likely much higher – many unsafe abortions, just like the pregnancies, are not disclosed, either by the women themselves, their families or those who provided the abortion.”

      You might also like to look up the story of Savita Halappanavar, the woman whose death galvanized the Irish referendum to legalize abortion.
      She was miscarrying in a hospital, refused medical help in the form of a safe termination because, as a nurse told her husband succinctly: “This is a Catholic country” , and died in agony.

      “Ms Halappanavar presented at Galway University Hospital with severe back pain on October 21st, 2012, and was found to be miscarrying her 17-week pregnancy.
      After a day in “agony” and distress, she asked for a termination but was refused because there was a foetal heartbeat. She was again refused the next day because of the heartbeat. Doctors checked for the heartbeat several times a day, as Savita grew increasingly ill.
      On the third day she spontaneously delivered a female foetus and went into a coma, before being transferred to the high-dependency unit and then intensive care, where she deteriorated into septic shock, multiple organ failure and died of cardiac arrest at 1.09am on October 28th, 2012.”
      From the Irish Times.

      And if you’re in the mood for reading more – and who isn’t! – read this:
      https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/nov/21/home-abortions-emails-secret-world

  30. Krista says...

    I’ve thought this for years, but i so wish the CoJ comments section had a “heart” or “like” button on the comments. I want to give “hearts” to so many posters here!!

    • lauren says...

      Same, Krista. It’s so easy to feel isolated and powerless in the face of legislation like this; I’m grateful for the massive reminder that we are a majority and can support each other and fight like one.

  31. Amanda says...

    I am a practicing evangelical Christian and I am an adopted person from somewhere where abortion was illegal except for medical reasons until really recently; someone I know and love has had an abortion; I have friends who were sexually abused as young adolescents and were made pregnant by their abusers.

    All to say, while I believe that abortion is the ending of a human life and has real moral consequences, I also believe that the issue is complex and that we’re not going to solve it with this kind of legislation. We cannot call ourselves truly pro-life unless we also care about all women and girls, and we cannot call ourselves truly pro-life as long as we characterize folks on “the other side” as bloodthirsty murders or selfish or whatever.

    This issue touches a lot of nerves, and with good reason, but as long as we’re talking *about* each other and not *to* each other, we’re not going to get anywhere.

    • Kate says...

      I think it’s fine for you, as a human, to have your own beliefs. We are all allowed to have our own opinions and this is fair. However, to force those opinions onto other women is unfair (especially unfair when it’s coming from a group of middle aged white men). We should all be allowed to have our own opinions, legally seek any type of medical help that we want and come to a conclusion that we made as a human being for our own body.

    • Megan says...

      I have to ask all the pro-life commenters – what are you, your church, legislators you voted for, etc, doing to help women and families receive the MATERIAL support they need to raise healthy children and receive the education and resources they need to be healthy, contributing adults? Is there a clear understanding that without comprehensive, non-judgmental anti-poverty programs, poverty and misery will continue to disproportionately impact poor women and children? Are you and your reps throwing money into food pantries, long-term healthcare, housing and educational improvements systematically? If not, I challenge you to revisit how pro-life you really are, and, without judging them, take some action to provide ACTUAL monetary or material assistance to women who find themselves in a situation where they don’t feel they can carry a pregnancy to term for these kinds of reasons. I challenge you to ask your ministers, legislators, etc, how they are supporting the actual material and monetary needs of poor families through higher minimum wage legislation, guaranteed family leave, housing subsidies, improved education…the list is endless.

    • Marnie says...

      Amanda, I agree completely, we need to talk *to* each other and stop demonizing each other.

      I am strongly pro-choice *and* I share many of your views and those shared by other anti-abortion posters here – we need to care about all women and girls, we need to invest in sex ed and birth control (aka abortion prevention!), we need to invest more for kids in foster care, and invest in vulnerable women to support them if they wish to parent.

      I fully support a person’s choice to not have an abortion, and think everyone should be supported if they choose the path of adoption or parenting.

      I just wish people who were against abortion could hold it as a personal choice and not impose their values on others.

    • E says...

      Replying to Megan here – YES! My church supports a ministry that works with pregnant mothers with little to no resources to help them choose life. This organization includes a Hope House and community mentors to help them get the resources they need to raise a child. There is also a resale shop I have volunteered at many times that sells anything from clothes to toys to kitchenware to mothers at little cost. There ARE programs like this out there; please don’t assume there are not.

  32. Dawn says...

    Thank you for this!

  33. Krystal says...

    I very much appreciate this post, and the supportive dialogue in the comments section. We need these spaces right now, desperately. I also want to remind editors and readers that women aren’t the only people with a uterus. Abortion care is a human rights issue, not just a “women’s issue.” It’s not feminism if it excludes trans women or others on the gender spectrum. Are these voices present or highlighted on this blog? I ask this sincerely–I honestly don’t know.

    You can learn more about inclusive reproductive healthcare here: (https://rewire.news/article/2019/03/01/women-are-not-the-only-ones-who-get-abortions/) and
    (https://www.teenvogue.com/story/going-to-doctor-when-transgender-and-gender-nonconforming)

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      thank you so much, krystal.

  34. Mona says...

    To the women who support the ban against abortion, I wonder if you have considered the gendering of this issue. What about the men who impregnate women without a consent. Condoms are about 98% effective when used properly. Why are women being solely targeted, an in such a emotive way? I don’t think anyone will disagree with abortions have negative aspects. Most women I’m sure would rather have not gotten pregnant than need an abortion. Why isn’t this angle looked at it at all? Why are women firstly, put into vulnerable positions and then blamed. Perhaps the heart of this issue is about gender inequality, patterns of abuse, shame and secrecy around abuse and misogyny. Do really expect a woman who has been raped or child who has been a victim of incest to carry through with a pregnancy? And is the state funded health care in Alabama? Does the state of Alabama take on responsibility for providing healthcare to provide for a safe childbirth for these women and children? And what about health care in general? If you care for these babies so much, will work on creating bills that allows them access to free healthcare? What about vulnerable young women who don’t have family support? What are you doing to actually help these babies, I must say again, other than propagate YOUR own agenda??

  35. Sara says...

    Thank you for this. I’m a mother of 2 and recently had a miscarriage at 17 weeks. I was always pro choice but having my miscarriage really brought home to me what it must feel like for women who choose to have an abortion and can’t because politicians are making the decision for them. I felt devastated after my miscarriage, but I can’t imagine how I would have felt if I had to carry to term a baby conceived in rape, a baby with extremely severe medical issues, etc., etc. The list is long in why a woman may choose to have an abortion, and that’s why it should be HER CHOICE. The mental, physical, emotional impact of a pregnancy on a woman is huge, and it doesn’t stop after birth/miscarriage/abortion, and it also can affect those people around her as well. We need to focus on supporting women and girls and support sex education and low cost birth control. That is how you prevent unwanted pregnancies, not by taking the choice away from women.

    • Nina says...

      I’m sorry for your loss Sara.

    • nora says...

      hi Sara. I am so, so sorry for your loss. How devastating.
      I am also a mother of 2, and while I have always been pro-choice, being pregnant twice had made me more pro-choice than ever.

  36. Paige says...

    Thank you for standing up for a womxn’s right to choose. Your voice is, as always, so appreciated.

  37. Mar says...

    Thank you very much for the article. Really a step back for women’s rights in the 21st century.
     

  38. Suze says...

    In your article, Clyde Chambliss (Alabama State Senator) stated that “while the young girl (referring to a victim of incest or rape) would have to carry and birth the baby, he hoped she could get mental help (and) that all young ladies would be educated by their parents.”
    Look carefully at his condescending, controlling words. Not one single word about the male who has violently ejaculated inside that “young lady” against her will. Who is it that actually needs the “mental help” and “education from their parents”?

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      i agree with you and was actually trying to show how appalling that quote was — but i don’t know if my intent there is coming across. i’ll try to make it more clear.

    • Suze says...

      Hi Jo, I also didn’t mean to imply that you agreed with him. I knew you included it to show how abhorrent his attitude is! Well done! You are so brave to post this and it is a very important debate. I love all your posts. xx

  39. I am not from US but greatly appreciate you making deep research and exposing the issue.

  40. Jess says...

    Thank you for this.

  41. Amanda says...

    Thanks so much for posting. This is terrifying.

  42. Cris says...

    I don’t usually comment, but all the anti-choice comments on this post make my blood absolutely boil.

    There’s a lot I want to say, but I’ll leave it at THANK YOU Cup of Jo for publishing this, as I’m sure you knew you’d get a lot of backlash from that-one-segment of your readership.

    To make myself feel better, for every anti choice comment in this thread I’m donating $1 to Planned Parenthood Action. Thank you for continuing to talk about the uncomfortable issues, and not shying away when it’s most important.

    • H says...

      What a great idea, Cris. I am joining you in this.

    • B. says...

      After the huge hits PP have taken in the last few years, I doubt pro-lifers are very intimidated or silenced by comments like this. I for one am so excited about the chance of Roe vs. Wade being challenged, and I’m hopeful that someday PP and all these flimsy pro-choice arguments will be a sad memory. I hope I get to meet wonderful people someday whose lives were likely saved by the kind of legislation being pushed now.

    • Grace says...

      That’s a great idea! I’m going to do the same. Thanks for the brilliant lead.

  43. Lara says...

    Thank you for posting about this! I really admire your decision to speak out about this important issue, despite how controversial it may be for your readership.

  44. Adrien says...

    Somewhere deep in the archives of this blog on a post about parenting or motherhood which I read, goes something like this: “Good for her, not for me.”

    If you have the freedom to choose pro life, shouldn’t your sisters also have the freedom to simply choose? Let’s remember to lift each other up. #shinetheory

    • Leanne says...

      Thanks for this, Adrien. Personally, I don’t know if I would ever get an abortion (then again, I’ve never been in a situation that complicated), but I will fight like hell for others to be able to make their own choices.

  45. gs says...

    A few points:

    Another way to reduce abortions is helping women feel as if they do have a choice. They can raise a child and not be crippled by poverty. There will be access to affordable child-care, health-care, and job opportunities that help them thrive while also caring for their child. How can we care so much about unborn children, but care so little once they are born?

    Also, if women are forced to mother these children, the fathers must be forced as well. It takes two to conceive a child, and so we must have two who are obliged and responsible to care for that child. Women will always be second-class until we can figure out how to hold men accountable in the most overt way, just as a woman is too.

  46. Annika says...

    Really, the thing solves itself (i.e. reduces itself to the 1% of pregnancies following violence that one commenter quoted) when the unwanted pregnancies stop (i.e. access to healthcare, sex education, contraception, financial aid to acquire contraception, getting the men involved in contraceptive measures etc etc).
    We (women) would not have to argue about “when life begins when” if it does not come to it and the situation of choosing between pregnancy and termination does not occur.
    This is THE most effective stopper to that horrible and (often times indecently argued) discussion.

  47. Mk says...

    There was this really interesting documentary on Frontline about the abortion divide. Link here https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/frontline/film/the-abortion-divide/

    I found it very interesting. As a pro choice woman what I questioned were the men and the pro life place for women once they had babies. They could stay for 6 months after the baby was born. Then what?!! One of the women there had 7 or 8 kids because she didn’t believe in abortion and most were in foster care. Whether you are pro life or pro choice I found it very interesting in many levels.

  48. H says...

    I am curious if all these anti choice people would also equally defend a law that states that: everyone is required to be tested for organ donation, and legally required to donate their second kidney, lobe of liver, lung etc to anyone who matches and requires it for survival. Same thing, saving a (in this case an actual living, breathing, beating heart) person is prioritized over bodily autonomy. Will even a single anti-choice (who call themselves pro-life) person support this, or is the outrage reserved for women’s bodily autonomy? Or why not? I want to hear the argument against this if abortion should be illegal.

  49. Rachel says...

    Thank you for this thoughtful post and for speaking out for the rights of women.

    I am the mother of two delightful boys – one pregnancy unplanned and one planned. As many of the other mothers on this thread have said, being a mom has made me much more passionate about the right of women to choose when and if they want to have children, and that no one else has the right to step into such a deeply personal situation and impose their moral views on another person’s body. I know what it is like to be unmarried, not certain if I want to be with the father, not sure how a pregnancy would affect my career and economic prospects, and not sure I was ready to be a mom, even though I had looked forward to having children since I can remember. My choice – to have my son, and to make a family with my partner, and to face all of the conflicting choices that come when you meld career with children – is a deeply personal one that I was free to make. I would never impose that same choice on a woman in the same circumstance, who might not be as fortunate as I was to have a job that offered parental leave, an employer that deeply supported me, a partner who stepped up, and a family who has been there every day since the birth of my oldest child to support and help me any way they can.

    There is a very small step from this moment – legislating away a woman’s right to choose – to what we see in other countries, where women are not free to actually carry a pregnancy to term in certain situations. Step onto the slippery slope of allowing the state to control women, and you can very easily end up with forced gender-selected abortions, forced abortion of children with disabilities or abnormalities, and forced one-child limits. If you care about women and are “pro-life”, you should be in favor of allowing choice, and it is a cop out to not follow the road we are on all the way to the logical end. Let women choose. Give them the agency to be free to make their own life, without men controlling the choices they make.

    In addition, all of this collective clamoring about pro-life and pro-family and pro-child values is the most rank hypocrisy I have ever seen from a political party that is happily jailing pregnant migrant mothers and families, tearing born babies away from their mothers, tearing families apart, putting children in cages, allowing police to get away with shooting black people, reducing critical support benefits from mothers who have chosen to have children in difficult financial and personal circumstances (which is the choice that these people want to force all women to make!), and reducing access to the sex education and contraceptive and gynecological care that helps women not be in the position to have to choose abortion in the first place (and I could go on with more examples). It is appalling – it is so anti-woman, anti-child, anti-life that it literally takes one’s breath away. If you care so much about babies and women, how can you not care about all of those other issues in addition to abortion? How can you support the death penalty? Why are these people not protesting outside fertility clinics about the frozen embryos that – according to their own definition – are living human beings who should be protected? Can we all just stop pretending that this has anything to do with being pro-life or caring about babies and just acknowledge that it is a bunch of scared old white men who see the end to their power looming in front of them and are desperately trying to oppress and silence women, people of color, LGBTQ people, and anyone else who doesn’t fit into their neat, white, Christian, bigoted worldview?

    Also, I know this is long, but statistics show that 1 in 4 women will obtain an abortion in their lifetime. 1 in 4. So to everyone who has commented, know that there is a friend, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a co-worker, or some other woman in your life who has had or will have an abortion. Maybe you should talk to them, understand them, learn from them – before you happily continue imposing your own personal views on another person.

    I am heartsick about what is happening to our country, and I am afraid for my sons. May God help us all.

    • E says...

      I am confused as to how a state banning abortion would ever require “gender-selected abortions, forced abortion of children with disabilities or abnormalities, and forced one-child limits”??! This is the opposite of what is being proposed! Also, many pro-lifers, including me, do believe frozen embryos are human beings. I’m not a “scared old white man,” I’m a young female who has dedicated her life to helping people through a medical profession. I am also a Christian so sick and tired of being called a bigot for my religion, which preaches grace and forgiveness of sins for ALL who believe.

    • GG says...

      E, “preaches grace and forgiveness of sins for ALL who believe“ is not very generous. . What about those of us who don’t believe in your Christian rules?

  50. Jen says...

    Many years ago, a minister at the church I attended made an analogy that resonated with me. A fetus cannot survive without the mother contributing – donating! – her resources such as blood, oxygen, nutrients, etc. In no other circumstance can we force individuals to donate blood, tissue, organ, etc even if they are the only possible donor and it is a lifesaving measure. While I’ve always been pro-choice, thinking of it in that framework really clarified it for me

  51. Thanks, dear Jo, for posting this piece. The Internet can be such a forum for outrage, it takes integrity and courage to speak up in a balanced and compassionate way for what one knows to be right and just.

    Stacy Abrams response to the ban, posted on NowThis Facebook page, is well worth listening to–a few times.

    She–and I–don’t see “two sides” to the issue. “I think the ‘compromise’ is that each woman gets to determine what she does,” says Abrams. “We cannot legislate healthcare… This notion that there is a compromise position is a fiction. The only compromise is from government and politicians to say that we don’t get to decide what a woman does with her body.”

    A ban won’t end abortion–wealthy, educated white people will always have access. It’s marginalized people–POC, immigrants, victims of rape and incest, the disabled, people who are incarcerated–that will suffer without access.

  52. Kate says...

    A comment from outside the US. Your country is so divided on these issues, I wonder if it will ever be possible to come to some sort of agreement or middle ground. There is such dichotomy, the same people who say that women should have the rights to their own bodies (thus: for legal abortion) are the same people who fight for mandatory vaccines (thus: women don’t have rights to their own bodies). Personally, I’m for people having control over their own bodies, how can the State possibly take into account all the nuances of a human being?

    • Nina says...

      That is an interesting perspective. What would be the middle ground?

      I am fine if the people who don’t want a vaccine means they must live in isolation. They cannot go out in public so they don’t infect others. Infecting an immuno-comprised person because you chose not to get vaccinated is very different, imo.

  53. TMH says...

    Thank You. People need to remove the blinders. Our world is far from perfect.

  54. Ellen says...

    Whether you believe that abortions are moral or not is not the issue. The conservative party is supposed to support a government that is small in both size and scope—which presides over the country without meddling in people’s personal lives—so the idea that they should choose what a woman does with her body is outrageous and embarrassing. The fact that 25 rich white men made this decision makes me cringe. Rich. White. Men. No one else had a say in this law.

    • Ellen says...

      I might add that given the conservative party supporting this in spite of what they claim to want their government to be, shows that this is not about rights for anyone. It is about men controlling women.

  55. Danielle says...

    I want thank you for writing this. It is so clear and calm and a strong statement that everyone with the capacity to be pregnant has the right to decide if they *want* to be pregnant.

    Anti-abortion messaging is so visible and prominent, so seeing this accurate, caring feminist voice advocating the right to abortion is particularly meaningful.

  56. Janet Kraybill says...

    Elect women, and create lasting change. Donate to http://www.emilyslist.org – which has been supporting Democratic Pro-Choice women for more than 30 years. They provide early money and training for women to run for all levels of government from local to national, and were a key factor in the record number of Democratic women elected to Congress in 2018.

    • Emily Getty says...

      The governor of Alabama is a woman. And I am incredibly disappointed in her.

  57. Marina says...

    Thank you for this, Cup of Jo.

    The anti-choice arguments in this thread make me sad. To say things like “there are so many resources out there for women who have unexpected pregnancies” is just cruel and entitled. To fully understand all the raw feelings and emotions associated with an unexpected pregnancy, one must have been in those shoes. It is a dramatically difficult place to be.

    Fortunately, I live in Europe, in a country where women can get free and safe abortions. We also have a wonderful NHS, 5 months of paid maternity leave, free contraceptives in public health clinics and no-nonsense sexual education at school. The number of abortions has been falling for years, because when women have access to information and good primary healthcare, the number of unexpected pregnancy drops.

    I have a lot of family in the USA, though. I am so sad for them.

  58. ARC says...

    Thank you to Joanna for opening up dialogue on this topic. It has never been and will never be, a black and white issue. From someone who made the heart wrenching decision to end a very much wanted pregnancy following diagnosis of a life limiting genetic condition, I feel it’s important to highlight that not all terminations happen because the baby wasn’t wanted. I waited 8 years to conceive. It broke my heart to end the pregnancy. My decision was made out of a fierce love for my unborn baby. So that s/he would not have to live a life of suffering. I am also a parent to a severely disabled teen. I have first hand experience of just what a life of suffering entails both for a child and his or her family. Please understand that it is not helpful to pass judgement on a situation you can’t begin to comprehend.

    At its core, this debate is about women’s rights to autonomy. Regardless of where you stand on the pro-life vs pro-choice divide, surely one would acknowledge the importance of women’s rights over their own bodies?! I would contest that the latter is not merely a woman’s right but also a human right.

    • Nina says...

      I’m sorry for you having to make such a hard decision and for your loss. I appreciate your sharing your perspective and experience.

  59. victoria oeye says...

    “Abortion is a consent issue. Pregnancy and birth without consent is state-sanctioned sexual enslavement.” Yes! So well put.

  60. Lauren says...

    Thank you.

  61. Jasna says...

    Dear Jo, so much love for you and this platform and thank you for speaking about this important issue!!! Also, if I may say, I think this may be a post where you should NOT PUBLISH ANY of those comments that support these horrendous laws or are against abortion. Really, there is no need to read them here. These people have plenty of other space on the internet to rant about how you should be happy that you are growing your rapist’s child because – life. I find it so triggering reading these types of comments. Yes, I guess they have the right to their opinion, however backwards it may seem, but it would be awesome not to have to read them here as well.

  62. Megan Biven says...

    RUN FOR LOCAL OFFICE. This didn’t just happen because Trump is president. People ran for local public office across the country and won. They accumulated power and now they can inflict their will and their politics onto the majority. RUN FOR LOCAL OFFICE. Nominate someone you respect https://www.justicedemocrats.com/ or start working towards that local legislature position or city council position.

    This is a STELLAR podcast on the issue:
    https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/ep-32-do-you-really-understand-roe-v-wade/id1457725100?i=1000438189333

  63. KH says...

    I am among many in Australia who are reading the news with such sadness. THANK YOU for speaking out.

  64. Ker says...

    Hear, hear! So so glad to see you take this on.

  65. TM says...

    You guys don’t even get statutory maternity leave or free healthcare!!

    The discussion around viability and classification of embryos as ‘human’ is a delicate, endlessly complicated, and one that will never end in agreement. However the fact that post-natal maternal care/leave and accessible healthcare for all are not being strived for confuses me no end. Not only would a women forced to carry a surprise unwanted pregnancy have to go through the birth process, she would have to pay thousands to do so and then not even be allowed time to fully recover before returning to work.

    I am pro-choice but am trying to open my ears to the well articulated pro-life arguments here, but that this is happening in a country with such abysmal statutory maternal leave makes the arguments for the ban hard to swallow.

  66. Marta says...

    As Selina Meyer (Veep) once said: “If men were the ones to get pregnant, you could get an abortion in an ATM machine.”

    • CJ says...

      Oh my god I love it. Selina truly speaks the voice of a misogynistic man and I don’t doubt for a minute that it would be true.

  67. Clara says...

    I find the idea of having a baby and then giving it up for adoption a more difficult prospect than terminating a pregnancy. In my country, where all women and girls have access to safe, legal and free abortions, giving a baby up for adoption isn’t an option unless you literally abscond from the hospital without the baby. You can’t just say “Hi, I’ve given birth to this baby but I don’t actually want it, here you go, give it to someone else.” Yes, there are babies removed permanently from unfit parents and there are babies put into temporary foster care, with Social Services involved for a long time who try to make it work with the birth parents until there comes a point that all parties agree on whether adoption or living permanently with the birth parents would be best. But simply ‘giving a baby up for adoption’ at the point of birth is not a thing that exists. Abortion is an option, so it’s assumed that if you’ve got to the point of birth, you want to at least try to make it work.

  68. Penny says...

    Let me preface this by saying that I believe that all girls and women should have the right to choose what’s right for them. But it’s the fact that there are men and women steadfastly arguing that no exception should be made for rape victims that truly makes me feel like I must be living in a dystopian novel. It feels like an extension of victim blaming – as though these girls or women must have done something to deserve it and should face the consequences. I wonder if these women advocating for no exemption would truly be willing to carry and give birth to their rapist’s baby. I’m sure deep down they feel that it couldn’t happen to them, but it absolutely could. Someone could knock on their door, rape and impregnate them today. Can they really imagine themselves carrying and giving birth to that baby? I want them to really truly imagine exactly what that would entail for the next nine months and beyond. Going to antenatal classes carrying their rapist’s baby. Arranging maternity leave at work for their rapist’s baby. Buying maternity jeans to fit the bump from their rapist’s baby. Being congratulated on their pregnancy by an old friend – “Oh, this is actually my rapist’s baby.” Sitting around the table on Christmas Day, heavily pregnant with their rapist’s baby. Then beginning 2020 by pushing out their rapist’s baby. I could go on.

    • CJ says...

      I’d like them to sit in on a therapy session with one of my clients, a rape or incest survivor, and listen for just 5 minutes. Unfortunately it’s still not happening to THEM, so we’re at the same starting place.

    • L says...

      Hi Penny.

      I consented to sex with a guy but told him not to finish inside me. When that fateful moment happened, he held me down and finished inside. I got pregnant and that baby is 18 months old today. All the hate and rage and deep regret and despair I felt toward him could have been transferred to my baby, but ultimately she was not the one who did that to me, and she was innocent of any wrong doing. I’m grateful that I chose life for her.

  69. Carly says...

    thank you for this! Swiss reader here: In Switzerland abortion is completely legal during the first trimester and still we have one of the lowest abortion rate in the whole world.

  70. Niamh says...

    Well done Cup of Jo. Such an important way to use your platform. Solidarity to you and to all women facing this frightening turn of events in the US from Ireland. On 25 May last year the country voted to give women the right to choose, after 36 years of a total abortion ban that led to multiple deaths and harm to many women, including forced C section. We know what you are facing and we will fight with you to ensure that women have access to the healthcare and the choices that they need.

  71. Christina Copp says...

    On the viability comments. I gave birth last year to a baby at 22 weeks. My hospital was not equipped to look after babies under 23 weeks. He was born perfectly formed, just little. However, he passed within an hour because he was too small to survive outside of me. So, he was a part of my body because he couldn’t live without it. If circumstances were different and at 22 weeks I learned he wasn’t viable or would suffer greatly, it still would’ve been my body and my choice. Though my little baby was wanted, and he passed outside of my control, I believe that late in the game, if a woman chooses to end her pregnancy, she’s torn up about it. It didn’t come easily or passively. But that the decision is necessary for whatever reason for her.

    I believe no matter how far along, I doubt an abortion is something women WANT to have to do. Who WANTS to have an operation? (I’ve also had a D&C to end a missed miscarriage – the same procedure as an abortion essentially – it involves hospital, drugs, being put to sleep – cramping and bleeding after – it’s not a fun procedure) But the alternative of going through an unwanted pregnancy and birth, I can’t imagine that either.

    • Nina says...

      Christina, I’m so sorry for your loss.

    • Abigail says...

      Very well said, and I’m so deeply sorry for your loss.

    • Tiffanie says...

      Thank you for sharing. I am sorry for your loss

  72. kim says...

    Thank you for this post.

  73. T says...

    What I find so hard to understand, is that there are people that seem to think that a woman who choses abortion, decides without conscience or heart.

    I was 25 when I had an abortion. I was a student in the throws of PTSS and I could not phantom the idea of being pregnant and giving a child a steady or safe home. It kept me relatively sane to know that I could have an abortion and heal myself first. I still shiver when I think I would’ve gotten a child amidst my darkest hours and what that could’ve done to all of us.

    Every July I think of the baby I could’ve had – how old it would become that month – how it would look like and be. I burn a candle and feel deep love for the child I did not have. But here is the thing … it was still the right decision.

    The right decision is not always the easiest. It can break your heart and yet be the only option. A woman who goes through such a process, doesn’t need shame or judgement. She needs compassion, a listening ear and the possibility to choose.

  74. agnes says...

    From far away France, I just wanted to send you my support; you’re going through a real tough time in the US. You are doing such a great work CoJ team. Focus on the light. That’s what I tell myself when in dark times. There is always light and though times are difficult for you, I feel a renewed and strong spirit, coming from all of you who stand for your rights. We are with you!

    • Kate says...

      STORIES FROM A SOCIAL WORKER:

      When I was 14 I was raped by my uncle. I lived with my mom and her boyfriend in a one bedroom apartment. I slept on the couch and the only meal I ate was at school. I had 7 rotten teeth pulled before I was 17. When I was pregnant I was spoiled, given every food and health related need I was lacking before. I decided on adoption. I was lucky because the family who adopted my baby requested a white baby and I happen to be white. After the baby was born I was sent home my health benefits soon expired and I went back to sleeping on a friends couch after my mom was sent to jail for dui. My school was not equipped to help me with my ppd or ptsd, I had no access to a ride to free mental health counseling and I had to work anyway if I wanted to pay for my basic needs. Eventually I had to drop out. Is this pro-life?

      When I was 16 I got pregnant with my childhood boyfriend. We were both living in bad homes at the time. We dropped out of school so we could make a life. Anyway, years later, we are married, have 2 more children. I’m working in a call center, he’s working as a manager of a chain restaurant. We have no healthcare. I lost most of my teeth because I have a genetic defect that caused me to be born with no enamel. I can’t talk on the phone because people can’t understand me well, so I work in admin at the call center, I get less hours so thus I’m paid significantly less. My babies are taken care of but the doctor says we are all overweight and my son has terrible asthma and eczema and my other son already has 5 crowns and my daughter is pre-diabetic. I know a contributing factor to their health could be the fact that we get very little fresh food on the budget we have. At night the salty and sweet foods we have readily available seem to placate my sadness for what coulda been. Is this pro-life?

      I was living in a duplex near campus when a man on drugs broke into my window. He had his filthy hands around my throat before I could scream. I could smell him, he smelled like garbage. His toothless mouth on my chest, his breath stunk like rotting flesh. His face was full of sores and pus. He raped me violently as he choked me into unconsciousness. I woke up bleeding, but thank god I was alone. Turns out I had a 3rd degree laceration to my vaginal canal and a tear to my perineum. And I was pregnant. I wanted to die. I wanted the man to die. I wanted the world to die. I got an abortion to save my life. My mental health. My future. My control of my body. If I had to carry that child I would have killed myself either during or after. Is this pro-life?

  75. Beth says...

    These are draconian laws made by men about women’s bodies. I find it abhorrent. So a 12 year old can be raped and have to carry a child to term, or a disabled woman unable
    to care for a child, or a woman in poverty, or a woman who has grown children or let’s be frank any woman.
    Womens bodies- Womens choices. I am an Australian and while I acknowledge this is happening in other parts of the world what horrifies me is the USA has always represented freedom. If this can happen in your country it is scary. Gilead

  76. Jo says...

    Fellow CoJ readers in Europe (hi!!!)

    Abortion is still illegal in Northern Ireland, Malta, Gibraltar and the Isle of Man. Please consider writing to your MP and/or making a donation to an organisation like the Abortion Support Network, who support women terminate their pregnancies in safety by helping them travel or finding a reputable supplier of necessary drugs.

    I can’t make the link work, but there is a good article on Stylist comparing the situations in NI and Alabama, explaining the law and suggesting more ways to help.

    (Long time reader, first time commenting!)

  77. Kimberley says...

    Aye. I haven’t even read through all the comments yet but my mind is a whirl.

    As someone who studies the relationships between mothers who have been raped and their children born as a result of this violence for my PhD, I really have to reiterate that forcing a mother to continue a pregnancy she does not want is not a viable solution. It has been shown that children born of rape experience problems througout their life, well into their 70’s, and infanticide is also not uncommon.

    As a European I personally have (mostly free) access to all the healthcare I need/require, and I work in humanitarian settings where I believe women should also have access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health rights. Including abortion, contraception and sex education.

    Unfortunately the archaic views of US politicians are now starting to seep into other areas; one example being their recent quibbling over the language of the latest Security Council Resolution on sexual violence in conflict.

    Adoption is prohibitively expensive for the majority of people, many care systems (incl. the US) are unequivocally unprepared to adequately care for the children they have, but mostly, if you don’t agree with abortion…don’t have one. Other people’s bodies are not your business.

    ok rant over, love you CoJ x

  78. Alyssa says...

    Thanks for being brave and standing up for this Jo. I know it must be intimidating as a blogger to take a position as it seems to be such a flashpoint in the US (less so where I live in Australia). Respect for standing up so eloquently for your beliefs xx

  79. Em says...

    When I read this terrifying news about Alabama, I decided to do some research on the state. Even a quick Google search will share some pretty telling information:
    -Alabama has the highest per-capita death penalty rate in the country.
    -Alabama is ranked the 48th poorest state/territory in the country (of 56).
    -Alabama is often ranked in the bottom 5 states in the country for both health care and education.

    Any state with that kind of execution rate cannot call itself pro-life.

    Who is most affected by restrictive abortion legislation? The poor and the uneducated.

    When it comes to lawmaking, there is no sense of morality or spirituality backing the enacting of these laws. This kind of legislation is so transparently anti-poor, anti-woman, classist, and often racist.

    If you claim to be part of the pro-life camp, you should be pro-all human life. Oppose the death penalty, oppose war, vote for stricter gun regulation, welcome refugees, the list goes on. Although we do it all the time, how can we really justify any claim that one human life is more sacred than another? These kinds of deeply personal decisions should be left to a woman and her doctor, not to politicians whose main motive is reelection.

    • Aneta says...

      THANK YOU. “If you claim to be part of the pro-life camp, you should be pro-ALL human life.” YES.

  80. LTaylor says...

    I was on birth control pills and got pregnant when I was 23. My boyfriend at the time was wonderful but I was too young, still working to pay for college. I ran away from a very abusive family. I got beaten up almost every other day growing up. I got locked up inside the house during summer and I wasn’t allowed to have friends. I tried to kill myself several times as a kid. I couldn’t imagine or even knew how to be a mother. I went to school from 7am-2pm then worked at restaurants washing dishes until midnight. I was an international student, which means school cost me $500/unit and we had to take at least 12 units to stay in the country. I worked 50-60 hours a week to pay for room and board. Some days I didn’t even have money for food. So I chose abortion.

    I’m thankful for California and Planned Parenthood for giving me a chance in life, my life. I graduated in Computer Science with honors. I got married to a wonderful man and had a daughter.

    • Nina says...

      Congrats for all your successes despite your difficult upbringing. I’m sorry had to make that choice and for your loss, but so happy you felt you could make that choice and it was ok. It is ok. You made the best decision for you and your child, which is all any of us can do.

  81. Courtney Brandt says...

    Thank you for using your platform for issues like this one. Keep going!

  82. Amanda says...

    I have an 18 week old BABY inside of me right now and according to science, she is already yawning, hiccuping, sucking and swallowing, among other things.
    I understand that this is an incredibly complicated issue. I think pregnant woman need much more support on many levels. That is where our energy should be going. I don’t believe killing a child is the answer, ever.

    • escondista says...

      good thing you have a choice, Amanda. You don’t need to have an abortion and i am so glad for you.
      You’re right – pregnant women do need support, and you can start supporting them now even if you don’t agree with the choice they are allowed to make.

    • Jo says...

      Congratulations on your pregnancy, from your comment is sounds like you’re looking forward to having your baby. I am a mother of two and, being a lucky white educated middle class women, happily married and with a strong support network and money, am very aware of my privilege. Can I just ask you to close your eyes and imagine, just for a moment!, that your pregnancy is the result of rape? Let’s say by your father? Or uncle? Can you just begin to imagine? Because I can’t. And I trust women should be able to say something and decide something when something horrible happens to them. (To be fair, I think women should always be able to decide, whatever the circumstances that got them pregnant, but I understand that this idea is more debatable. But allowing a women or girl who is raped to terminate her pregnancy is, for me, non-debatable.)

    • Carrie Jones says...

      I agree, Amanda. More support for mothers. More support in the way of birth control. More of whatever we can do to prevent unwanted pregnancy in the first place, and more options for unwanted pregnancies. The fact is many women use abortion as birth control. And even more shocking, I’m seeing more and more women claiming that abortion is empowering. Those little girls on video protesting a pro-life rally? Every single one of them was rejoicing over abortion. This attitude disgusts me. And it should disgust those who are pro-choice too. How can celebrating murder ever be right?

  83. Barb says...

    If you are against abortion, it is your right and your CHOICE not to have an abortion. But it is not your right to tell other women what to do. If a woman feels the need to have an abortion for whatever reason, it should be her CHOICE. The current law making abortion legal is making abortions safe for women who choose to have them. It does not force anyone who have other beliefs to have them. This is not an issue in other industrial, western, intelligent countries where women are viewed as equal and able to make their own decisions. But for some reason we continue to fight about this issue. Women with money will always have access to abortions. Poor or middle class women will not. It is time for those with anti-choice beliefs to stop trying to impose their beliefs and their will on others.

    • Rebecca says...

      “If you are against slavery, it is your right and your CHOICE not to have a slave. But it is not your right to tell other people what to do. If a person feels the need to own a slave for whatever reason, it should be their CHOICE.”

      People who are pro-life believe that abortion is murder of innocent people – objectively worse than slavery. So it is not surprising that they continue to try to impose their beliefs and will on others. Of course, if you disagree about the definition of abortion, their position makes no sense.

    • Elisabeth says...

      Rebecca, that’s an appalling analogy. Women who choose to live their own lives free from forced birth are worse than slave-owners? That’s a shameful comparison.

  84. JP says...

    Cup of Jo does not disappoint. I was waiting to see what you guys would do about this. I hope to see other “social medial influencers” use their platform to fight against the regression in law, history, and human rights, being established by the “lawmakers” of Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia. Thank you for supporting women’s rights.

  85. Althea says...

    Thank you. So well written. This is why I love Cup Of Jo and continue to read year after year. . <3

  86. C says...

    The same people who want to force a woman to give birth to a child when she doesn’t feel that she can support a child (financially, medically, emotionally, whatever the reason) always seem to be against any public policy that would help women have less unwanted pregnancies or make raising children easier. Conservatives fight to dismantle social safety nets (welfare, food stamps, SNAP, paid family leave), access to contraception and sec education, the affordable care act, and public education. Raising children under the best circumstances is not easy. Where are all the pro-lifers when there are over ten million children who struggle with hunger in the US every year and 2.5 million that are homeless ? When public schools are underfunded? When child care is astronomically expensive? Where are all these people who decided that all pregnancies should be carried to term when mothers and parents need help?

    • CJ says...

      This is why I feel like we’re living in some weird Handmaid’s Tale society right now. Yours are the very questions I feel we should be asking. If this is your belief, then how will we provide for these unwanted babies once they are here? How about that?? I can’t wrap my head around it.

  87. Anna Vitale says...

    Thank you for this article, Jo. It is so important for us to support and push for easy access to safe abortions.

    After reading the few reader comments speaking out against abortion, I feel compelled to share a bit of my journey on this as I started on their side and ultimately moved over.

    I grew up in a very Catholic family and attended “pro-life” marches with my mom as a kid. After years of watching “pro-life” politicians dismantle the programs that support lives of the people currently living in this country, my mom and I both shifted our views, our votes and our energy.

    Becoming a mother has only reinforced my belief in pro-choice. There is no way a woman should take this on unless they are ready in whatever way “ready” means to them.

    Is there inherent value in an embryo and a fetus? Of course – there’s the potential for human life there. We on the pro-choice side should acknowledge the value of that potential and acknowledge that an abortion ends that process, because it absolutely does.

    But does an embryo or fetus with the potential to become a human being hold the same value of an existing human being? No. One is entirely dependent on the other and until that dynamic shifts, the existing human being’s needs take precedence.

    It is not an easy read and definitely not for everyone, but this article by abortion nurse Sallie Tisdale, “We do abortions here” helped me gain a window into the grueling choice many women face and make every day.

    https://archive.harpers.org/1987/10/pdf/HarpersMagazine-1987-10-0023201.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAJUM7PFZHQ4PMJ4LA&Expires=1558068990&Signature=9M%2F5%2FYtaGFTmouDB%2FJ4%2FPFdz7o4%3D

    For those who continue to be anti-abortion, know that no one looks forward to an abortion. Trust women to make that choice.

    Trust women.
    Trust women.
    Trust women.

  88. Lauren Cesca says...

    Thank you Joanna and Cup of Jo for reporting, clarifying and supporting . There are so many thoughtful perspectives and beliefs expressed in these hundreds of comments. I have never had an abortion but I 100% support any woman who has or will for I have yet to walk in her shoes.

  89. Sarah says...

    Wow. Such brilliant discussion and thanks for the article CoJ. One thing I would say is that just because a girls and women can become pregnant, does NOT mean that they WANT to be MOTHERS. Being a mother is a conscious choice daily. It requires effort and commitment and a desire to parent that child the best you can. Biology allows for women to become pregnant. It should be a CHOICE to become a mother.
    The sooner that we all accept that a woman’s value does not lie in her ability to hold and grow a child within her own body, the better. We are so much more than vessels to fill.
    Not wanting to be pregnant or be a mother is a totally personal choice, and should not be one associated with shame or illegality.

    Sending you all support from way over here in Tasmania, Australia. We stand together on our rights as women to CHOOSE our own path, and not suffer persecution because of it.

  90. Emily says...

    Thank you, Joanna and team. The distress and disillusionment of the laws passed this week weigh heavy. The democracy of our country is built on legal precedent. If lawmakers really wanted to reduce abortions they would look at the facts around abortion and put their energies into help stop unwanted pregnancies, not punishing women and doctors for making deeply personal, and often incredibly difficult, decisions using rights upheld by the Supreme Court. As someone who aborted a very wanted pregnancy last year due to a chromosomal abnormality of the baby, my take away was to be very grateful I live in Washington where I had a choice of convenient clinics with services 100% covered by insurance. I’ll never forget that sunny Saturday afternoon, and wish that all women should have the ability to make hard circumstances easier as my family did.

    Yesterday though, I experienced a ray of sunshine in the darkness. NPR ran a story on a group of middle school girls in the Bronx who recently won their middle school podcast contest. The girls’ podcast is on periods, and the joy and optimism of youth in their voice gave me hope. I also cried.

    For anyone else who needs that moment of hope, listen to this: https://www.npr.org/2019/05/15/721729850/periods-why-these-eighth-graders-arent-afraid-to-talk-about-them

  91. Alexia says...

    Hi April!
    I just wanted to engage in conversation with you as it seems you have some questions I’ve thought about in the past.

    The notion of “human” is actually quite far from a perfect science. Why is a 6 week fetus defined as human and an embryo sitting in a lab not? More importantly, there is a lot of medical anthropology research out there that shows that culture actually has a huge impact on our biology. Culture and science are more intertwined than separate. I think a lot about Jo’s brother in laws’ book when it comes to these concepts of humanity, life, and death. Discovering the truth of what constitutes a human is a lot more complicated than just medicine. Literature too, holds the answers.

    You say that feminine beauty is tainted by death—then what defines death? The end of a heartbeat (which, for the record, there is no heartbeat at 6 weeks)? “Brain death”? Forcing a woman to have a baby that is the result of rape that she does not want could be considered a sort of death—you are basically asking her to endure 9 months of serious trauma.

    These questions are highly personal. It is my belief that it is for the woman to decide her answer to these questions and make her choice accordingly. Your belief is likely different than mine, and so it’s for you to decide what to do with your body. Lawmakers shouldn’t get to decide what I want to do with mine.

  92. Cam says...

    All of this recent news is hitting very close to home, so as someone who had to have an abortion this year, thank you. It was a difficult process; I always thought I’d be ready to be a parent at this age. But that’s not the case at all.

    I don’t think it’s true that abortion causes depression. But I do think it’s normal to feel conflicted. I think it’s completely possible to feel guilt and hope and sorrow and relief, all at once. Even if it’s the right choice. Even if it’s the only choice.

  93. courtney says...

    I recently finished this fictional book re: abortion- presenting both perspectives (and at the end, great facts!)-
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39072210-a-spark-of-light

    I also recommend this article I read years ago-
    https://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/19/opinion/19gawand.html

    And consider income levels- Abortion has become increasingly concentrated among poor women, who accounted for 49% of patients in 2014. https://www.guttmacher.org/infographic/2017/abortion-rates-income

    Anyway, thank you for this post! Life continues to be deeply disturbing and upsetting.

  94. Sarah says...

    Women deserve human rights; the right to choose.

    Thank you for always supporting human rights!

  95. Sar says...

    Pro-choice Canadian gal here. I pass by a little hub of pro-lifers on my way downtown some days, but for the most part, I’m so grateful to live in an area in which the Big Debates revolve around hockey. I’m downplaying it a bit, of course, but it seems like your president wants to divide your population, rather than unite them. Good vibes to you all, on both sides of the issue.

  96. Kim says...

    This is a really measured, balanced piece. Great work CoJ.

  97. Alana Nubs says...

    I used to be pro-choice when I was younger, but since I’ve had children of my own, I have had a hard time rationalizing how my perfectly formed daughter who was kicking and sucking her thumb on the 12 week ultrasound is any less than the baby that I delivered 27 weeks later. At conception, the embryo has DNA that is distinct from the mother (and father), and is its unique person. It is not “rhetoric”, Joanna, to acknowledge this scientific fact. I am surprised so many women have such strong convictions in their “constitutional right” to kill their babies because they can get away with it currently. Shouldn’t we as a society be protecting those most vulnerable, those who cannot defend themselves?

    • Elizabeth says...

      I am surprised you legitimately think so lowly of your own sex that you think 1 out of 4 women are sadistically and happily “killing their babies.” Science is being distorted in the service of conservative religious rhetoric. A zygote is a life form just like an acorn is a life form. But a zygote is no more a baby than an acorn is an oak tree: it’s in the process of becoming one. By this logic, all fertilized eggs are human lives. Ask yourself if you would rush into a burning building to save all the fertilized eggs in a freezer being saved for IVF treatment–or if you would expect fire fighters to risk their lives doing so. If you’re answer is no, well then I think we’re done here. Peace-

    • Nina says...

      Sure. What level of protection are you willing to personally provide? Are you annoyed by women who have their nails done and use food stamps? Do you think it wrong if someone drives a nicer car then you and gets ‘welfare?’ Are you able to provide for your children 100% without another person helping you?

      Do you know that parents have more rights than their children. So abusive, drugged, alcoholic parents can abuse and neglect their children and have a right to get services to put the children back in the home. Where 90% or more are abused again and again. What protection are YOU personally willing to provide to that child? If someone literally cannot mentally, emotionall, or financially provide for a child – are you willing to step up and do so? For how many?

      This is not an esoteric discussion. Your anecdotal experience based on your safe, secure, financed lifestyle doesn’t take anything into account for somone NOT in the same situation.

      And to say they are “killing their babies” is horrible. Honestly.

      So your perfect daughter would be a baby killer, if, her life circumstances made it so she chose to have an abortion? That is very sad. Very, very sad. You must admit you were never “pro choice” you were “that’s ok if I want it, but now I don’t so everyone must be governed by my morality.”

      At conception an embryo could become a fish, a frog, or a human. It is not a unique person. It is a collection of cells that take time to separate out into what it will be.

      What are you doing for children who are separated from their parents at the border? What about if we are forcing them back to their countries without protection? When does the protection you think the “most vulnerable” should get, ends? Only if they are American?

    • Laura says...

      It was your choice to carry your daughter to term and you sound like a wonderful, loving mother. Why force women who aren’t ready or able to be mothers to have children? Those children lose out on being adequately loved and cared for and they become the most vulnerable. Stopping a pregnancy that would result in a child who isn’t wanted or can’t be provided for is a far more compassionate act

    • jules says...

      The politicians who support these laws do not support helping the elderly, children, low income children, the unfairly imprisoned, foster kids, the disabled, the abused, victims of human trafficking.

      Just to list a few more vulnerable populations.

      God– if you believe in God, I do — aborts these “most vulnerable” cell clusters regularly via miscarriage and stillbirth. So are you calling God a murderer?

    • Caro says...

      Your fetus at 12 weeks was very different from the baby you delivered 27 weeks later because the baby you delivered was able to survive outside of your womb. She no longer had to depend solely on your physiological resources. She was not a unique person at 12 weeks, she was a fetus. Me? I’m a unique person, I feel that I have more rights than a 12 week fetus that lives inside me.

      Further, I am curious how you feel about protecting other vulnerable populations, for example black trans women? What about black women who are pregnant? What about poor populations? What about women in abusive relationships who get pregnant because their male partner orgasmed irresponsibly inside of them? What about women not in abusive relationships who get pregnant because their partner orgasmed irresponsibly inside of them? Or the .01% of women with an IUD who do get pregnant? This happens.

    • Seraphina says...

      Hello Alana. I’m typing this as my three month old daughter (also named Allana!) sleeps in my arms. If she takes after her mother, she’ll start her periods in about eleven years and could be impregnated. The thought of that happening to her makes me feel violently ill, and the thought of someone like you insisting that my little girl should then have to endure nine frightening months of pregnancy and go through the ordeal of childbirth makes tears stream down my face. Would you want that for your own daughter? Forcing a rape victim to continue a pregnancy and give birth is raping them all over again, a million times over. As the mother of a daughter, I’m so surprised that you support forced pregnancy and childbirth. Would you look at your daughter’s nine-months-pregnant belly on her eleven year old frame and think that was the right decision to make when there could have been an alternative? Would you watch her scream and sob during labour and childbirth and think that was the right decision? I can’t even bear to watch my little one have a cold but you would put yours through all that. It’s very strange to me and I’m very glad that my daughter and I live safely in another country away from these disturbing views and tyrannical laws.

    • G says...

      Bravo Alana! Thank you for your statements. I’m with you!

    • H says...

      Are you willing to donate a kidney, lung, lobe of liver, to save a life? Allow the government to force your family to do so? If not, stop asking for the government to force a woman to risk her life, mental and physical health, livelihood and opportunity for advancement. Maybe science will advance to allow 12 week old foetuses to survive outside the mother. Then we can save them too. Meanwhile, the “host” has rights.

  98. W says...

    I find it ironic that pro-life supporters are the ones who would, in a heart beat, take away any government funding and resources that are meant to help the children and single mothers who are victims of unwanted pregnancies. We live in a secular, pluralistic society. I respect your choice to be pro-life. I don’t ask you anymore than to reciprocate and respect my choice to be pro-choice.

  99. Meggles says...

    I have always felt ambivalent about abortion, but this AL law has helped me realize with absolute certainty that I 100% DO NOT want abortion to be made illegal, particularly in the early stages. What an absolutely ridiculous law (the same with the other ones states have recently voted into being). The whole personhood thing for embryos is ridiculous.

  100. Thank you for posting this! So much of womens rights and issues become the problem for the woman. I would love to start including men in this issue and love how Design Mom’s twitter thread on abortion suggests: “At the onset of puberty, all males in the U.S. could be required by law to get a vasectomy. Vasectomies are very safe, totally reversible, and about as invasive as an doctor’s exam for a woman getting a birth control prescription. There is some soreness afterwards for about 24 hours, but that’s pretty much it for side effects.” Love it. Let’s start having men get vasectomies than women having to take birth control, which, from a pro-life standpoint could be considered even better?

    • Tiffanie says...

      I love this!!!

  101. J says...

    Thank you for being a light amongst so much darkness and using your platform for good!

    • H says...

      Cosigning this. Thank you, Cup of Jo team.

  102. Julia says...

    Thank you so much for posting about this!

  103. Lori says...

    When a woman conceives, that is a life. I support women, babies in the womb and after birth. There are so many resources out there for women who have unexpected pregnancies… organization a to help with healthcare, financial need and so many families waiting to adopt.

    • Meggles says...

      A zygote is not a baby. A blastocyst is not a baby. An embryo is not a baby….a baby is a baby.

    • Samantha Remeika says...

      Just your opinion, an attack on women’s right to choose is an attack on all women.

    • JP says...

      Then why do we have the ongoing problem of children being tossed from one foster home to another? All the pending neglect and abuse cases in our courts? The lack of attorneys, guardian ad litems, to help these children? All the grandparents having to step in to help out, paying for things out of their own pockets? The complete lack of free daycare? The time and cost in adopting a baby? The same people who are creating these restrictive laws are the same people, also cutting down the funding for these “so many resources” you state.

    • As pointed out above, making abortions illegal doesn’t stop abortions – they still happen, despite all the organisations that exist to help. The only thing it does is increase the risk to women forced to take desperate, unsupervised action.

    • Ser says...

      Yeah, forced pregnancy and subsequent adoption is not a solution to unintended pregnancy. Your beliefs apply to YOU, not anyone else.

    • agnes says...

      The problem is of public health not morality. If a woman doesn’t want to have a baby, she will find a way to abort, illegaly, as it has always been the case in the history of humanity. To legalize abortion is to help these women, it doesn’t mean abortion will be considered lightly. Contraceptive and sex education have to become a priority. That’s how abortion can decrease.

    • Penny says...

      What do you think about the lack of exemption for victims of rape and incest?

    • Mary says...

      You seem to make many assumptions on the ability of women to access these “numerous organizations” that seem to exist. Given the state of healthcare in the USA and social services, do you really think that women who are poor, marginalized, victims of abuse, working multiple jobs to keep food on the table, etc, are able to reach all of these? Or that they even know they exist? You say you support woman, but I don’t see how that is reflected in your statement at all.

    • Brittney says...

      I wish those focused on outlawing abortions would focus on supporting those organizations and the health of pregnant women and newborns. Seems much mor effective and moral.

    • Jo says...

      I am deeply sympathetic to people who identify as pro-life. Science doesn’t offer us a hard-and-fast rule on many of these questions, making it a difficult issue to navigate.

      That said, I work in mental health care on the ground, and we are really suffering a serious lack of resources when it comes to supporting pregnant women and mothers. Particularly in the US, infant and maternal mortality are far too high for a developed country.

      I see many commentors here who feel strongly that pro-life is the only ethical choice. I would be so grateful if some of that drive could also be directed towards working towards more accessible health-care, mental health, and financial services for women and children.

    • Kiana says...

      Lori, this is so true of course and that is why there are so many fetuses who are not aborted and are put up for adoption. However carrying a pregnancy to term so they can deliver a baby is not a simple matter either. Some people can’t because of work, little money, health issues or even because the baby may have a grave illness. Thus law outlaws abortion in every case. I also want to point out that there isn’t as much help or resources as you seem to think. Medicaid covers pregnancy but you hace to be really poor to qualify where I live and you have to stay poor if you want to keep receiving care after the child is born. There is also no paid maternity leave for women in this country. Imagine that you are a poor woman who unexpectedly gets pregnant, you have no money to have this baby and you didn’t want it, your job will fire you if you miss days because you have morning sickness or so many doctor appointments. You know you wont get paid time off after the baby is born and you have no one to care for it when you go back to work after birth. I work with women like this and I see stories like this every day. Also before you start saying that pregnancy is a choice, perhaps you should look up statistics as to how m any poor women (esoecially) in rural communities have access to birth control and how many are told by their church not to use it? I genuinely want you to think about this. Do some research please. You will see that it’s not as cut and dry as you think.

    • Liv says...

      Pregnancy is dangerous. The United States has the highest maternal mortality rate of any developed country. Forcing a woman to be pregnant and give birth risks her life.

    • Kay says...

      If there are “so many families waiting to adopt” why are there so many kids jumping from foster home to foster home?

    • B says...

      Exactly, there are lots of people with fertility issues who would like to have a child. Even though it is hard to take care of someone else and it is true people need to take care of their own needs, we have become a very self centered society. As you say, there are other options for unexpected pregnancies that takes into consideration that there is a another life coming into this world. Even though it may have been unexpected or through something traumatic, we don’t have a right to cancel another person’s life. Also, they never know, they might be surprised by the joy it brings to their life, and if they do keep them, they will have family and someone who will be there as they get older which is very important for mental health in the future. People should think of their mental health of the future, not only in the present.

    • Margery says...

      I agree 100%

    • Julia says...

      I agree, Lori.

    • Elly says...

      If it cannot survive outside of the mother, it is not a life. Women deserve to control their own bodies.

    • jane says...

      But, respectfully, why should, say, a 14 year olds life be even further destroyed after the horror of incest because she is now forced to carry her father’s or brother’s baby? I don’t know how common incest is but don’t you think it is inhumane to make a woman or girl pay for that with pregnancy? A night-after pill is simple protection that she deserves. An embryo is not a fetus. Even animals in nature abort when circumstances are not favorable for raising babies. Women must make that decision because we are responsible for raising them – not men – that is the point of clarity.

      Especially when there will be none – not a single iota – of recrimination for the rapist. Who by the way, she will still be LIVING with for a few years to come. That is societal cruelty and the definition of inhumane.

      There are exceptions to every rule and incest and rape are those exceptions.

    • Gemma says...

      Can you please list them all?

    • jane says...

      To clarify, I mean women are responsible for raising children in the lowest cases, which is where rape and incest occur. Many good men help raise children but the worst ones do nothing or close to nothing. Actually many average men do virtually nothing and that is why the decision is women’s to make. They need the choice because there is not necessarily financial support from a husband, a community, OR the government. Most women are paid far less and hired for only lower level jobs meaning their income is not sufficient to support themselves let alone an unwanted child. The whole thing just generates poverty and lifetimes of mental anguish for an entire community of people.

      It’s a decision made by a patriarchy with no respect for the feelings or knowledge of the practicalities of women and children rearing. Their answer to “pass the problem off to someone else to deal with” in the form of adoption is the most immature response to the problem. It negates taking real responsibility (correcting the wrong) and instead compounds all the further emotional damage of carrying an unwanted pregnancy for a year plus the mixed horror of then having to give it away. It just a mess an innocent woman does does not have to pay for.

      Why isn’t this obvious? I kind of need to hear from the other perspective.

    • Tully says...

      Women are not human incubators. Your religious believes should not hinder other people lives. Literally the entire context of the constitution.

    • katie says...

      That’s simply not true. Not only do the economically disadvantaged not have easy access to healthcare and financial assistance, they don’t have access to affordable birth control.

      If fact, in Chicago, a progressive city, statistics show that the poorest people are paying the highest portion of their income into the state but that money is disproportionately going to richer neighborhoods. Those wealthier neighborhoods have better transit services, better road services, better schools, more grocery stores.

      Saying healthcare and financial assistance is easy to come by is not reality for a vast majority of Americans. Even in my own company, where we have 50,000 plus employees across the U.S. and 80,000 worldwide, our healthcare options get worse every year. Most birth control isn’t covered because the GOP made it easier to get around the ACA’s original roll out. My direct report, with breast cancer, had to fight our insurance to get covered by a specialist in Chicago. CHICAGO! I can’t imagine what it’s like for someone who doesn’t have “good” health insurance.

    • Myev Rees says...

      When a “woman” conceives…you have to be kidding. A 14 year old rape victims is not a “woman” with options and access to resources. A 15 year old girl whose parents will beat her, or kick her out onto the street when they learn she is pregnant is supposed to do what, exactly? Hitch a ride to one of these so called “resources,” beg for a place to sleep, food to eat, and medical care for the next 9 months, and then what? Give up the child and enter the foster system? Are you seriously suggesting that rape and incest victims should be forced to under go the trauma of carrying their rapists children? You can not in any way claim to “support women” if you support this bill. You can not even claim to be a compassionate human being.

    • Florence says...

      Lori, a message from Europe: the rest of the world is looking down on your country in shock and pity. Religion has been used as tool to manipulate huge populations in the US to vote against their own interests. People with a child(s) they don’t want are often poor, and poverty is a very efficient way to keep people away from the voting booths, and your white, disgusting male politicians in the positions of power. Open your eyes.

    • Julie Kucinski says...

      Lori – tell us how you support – in a material way – the unwanted, neglected, poor, disabled, abused, or really any children that you do not personally know after they’ve been born? Lawn signs, blog comments and facebook posts don’t count.

    • escondista says...

      Please list all of the resources and the requirement for attaining assistance. I am an executive-level employee for medicaid in a large state. Assistance really varies from county-to-county and wait times for some services can take a while.

      Please tell me where someone can go in places like Brady, Texas or Goshen, Alabama or Puxico, Missouri to get the every day help and assistance needed to raise a child they’re unprepared for.

    • Juliana says...

      While you may support babies, women, families, etc., you are wildly optimistic about the amount of resources available for those children in foster care situations or waiting to be adopted – THERE IS NOT ENOUGH. They are not being funded nearly enough, and there are not enough good options available to these children.

      My brother works in the DCF system in Florida and tells me horror stories of kids who are waiting for a place to live. Not even a loving stable family, but a consistent place to LIVE. Do you know how many children (and by children, I’m talking about teenagers who have been shuttled around multiple homes before their 18th birthday) have to move to a different bed each night? Do you know how many people are ill-equipped to be parents? HUNDREDS. And this is only in one county in one state. Think about the scale of kids who need actual help, and instead governments are spending time limiting resources for women who are already struggling.

      Children should be born into loving families. No one should be able to decide that except for the parents or mothers. By limiting the choices available to these women, the lawmakers in these states are dooming these women, children, and families to a difficult future, and that’s morally wrong.

      You are right to support families, and you are absolutely free to choose to never have an abortion. But you should never make that choice for someone else – you have no idea what is happening in those situations where women are faced with this choice.

  104. Meg says...

    Thank you.

  105. Jill says...

    Equal rights for unborn girls! It’s archaic that you are still arguing for abortion rights as if a grown woman’s choice/desires/needs supersede a SEPARATE, not/yet-grown person’s life. How can you possibly argue that they shouldn’t get a choice?

    • Jill says...

      ^^ Also, we cannot heal an act of violence (as in the case of rape or incest) by committing another act of violence (as is the case in an abortion, against the fetus (Latin for “little one,” for those who use it to dehumanize fetuses)). Pro-life is pro-science, Joanna.

    • Marisa says...

      Because embryos and fetuses before approximately 24 weeks are not alive outside of their “host”, as some republican law makers have called pregnant women. Is your argument that a fetus is not alive until you can call it a “girl”?

    • A says...

      I’m not sure “archaic” is the right word in this case. Because what’s REALLY archaic is the idea of men creating laws that control women and their bodies.

    • Jennifer says...

      Yes! 100% agree. Thank you, Jill. Human life with unique DNA from the start. I have read and listened to hours of pro-life vs. pro-choice perspectives. I think about it constantly. I think it’s so critical to gain the best understanding of both sides in any controversy, and to listen to where people are coming from.
      But in my heart I just can’t fathom the idea that it’s perfectly okay to end human life.

    • Angine says...

      Jill it’s not about “healing” an act of rape or incest – it’s about allowing the victim the small mercy of not compounding her tremendous bodily violation and grief, for years to come. What do you think about a 12 year old who had been raped by her father? Should she be forced to bear the child and potentially care for it for the rest of its life? The inability to contemplate the horror of that experience suggests utter privilege and a wilful lack of empathy.

    • Penny says...

      What if that unborn girl grows up to be a victim of rape and incest? Doesn’t that young girl have the right not to be forced into pregnancy and childbirth? Or do her rights only last for as long as she is unborn, and once she’s born it’s fair game to take her body autonomy away from her?

    • Antonia says...

      A woman has a right to make a choice for herself. No woman should be subjected to laws that criminalize her for making choices about her own body. As you say, embryos are not persons up to a certain stage. They are not able to make a choice. So yes the womans right has a higher value.

    • Ker says...

      Female fetuses are not equal to girls and women. 89% of abortions occur before 12 weeks gestation. There’s no mind, no desires, no capacity to make a choice. If you don’t want an abortion, don’t have one. And we can all agree on doing everything possible to reduce unwanted pregnancies. But please don’t force other women to grow children that they do not want.

    • KM says...

      Hi Jill. My response to Kelly, commenter below, applies here…

      Where are you and those state politicians you applaud when those babies (who were not planned for) and their mothers need healthcare, food, shelter, quality education? How can you call yourself “pro-life” when you wash your hands of any sense of moral responsibility once those babies are born?

      You want LESS abortions? GOOD. Push for access to free / affordable contraceptives, healthcare, sex education. And by sex education, I mean REAL sex education – the kind that prevents unwanted pregnancies, not the kind that injects teen minds with fear and ignorance, leading to all kinds of personal disasters. Feast your eyes on the stats showing that making abortion illegal does NOT decrease rates of abortion – it just makes them less safe, because desperate people do desperate things. Free / affordable contraceptives, healthcare, sex education – those are things proven to decrease abortion rates.

      If you’re gonna call yourself pro-life, then for the love of God and whatever else you worship, BE! PRO! LIFE!!!

      I am so sick of this hypocrisy – the overflow of concern for unborn fetuses, alongside the cold disregard (and sometimes utter contempt) for the less fortunate living beings around you. Grow some empathy. Learn to understand that people face all kinds of hardships that are unfathomable to the lucky ones among us, and then use that newfound perspective to temper the ugly judgments you make against people who make decisions that outrage or disgust you.

      You want to make positive change in the world? Let sound research and common sense and empathy guide you. Adopt any other approach, and you’ll just be contributing to the problem.

    • Sarah says...

      What is archaic is your argument that a cluster of cells should supersede the rights of a girl or woman who is already here, alive and autonomous. But putting that aside, did you even read the post? The ONLY way to prevent abortions is to prevent pregnancies. Banning abortions does not make them any less rare, it just makes them more dangerous as women are forced to self-abort or find unsafe ways to do it. If you’re okay with that, it shows that you only care about punishing women, not “saving babies”.

    • B says...

      To Marissa,

      Maybe they are not alive in your mind, but it is still Life.

    • Amanda says...

      Lol at the use of the word “archaic” in this comment.

    • Julia says...

      I agree with you Jill. Thanks for posting this.

    • Julia says...

      Also, having an abortion is so often devastating to the life and sprit of the mother. There are many resources available for women with unexpected pregnancies.

    • Heather says...

      I agree with you, Jill! I believe strongly in equal rights for all women, born and unborn. We should be fighting hard to protect the lives of these unborn girls, who are completely helpless to protect themselves.

    • Lydia says...

      Because that’s how autonomy over our bodies works. If you were in a terrible car accident and needed a blood transfusion and I’m your blood type, no one can force me to give you blood even if you, a separate life, are going to die. We get to make decisions for our own bodies, even when we ourselves are dead! When you die, no one can take your organs to save another life unless you gave them express, written permission before you died. A grown woman’s choice supersedes another grown woman’s choice when it comes to making decisions about the first woman’s body even if the second woman is going to die. Our decisions about our own bodies always supersede others decisions about our bodies.

      Have you even donated a kidney or a liver? Because people die every day waiting for transplants and you likely have those organs in your body right now. But those people don’t get to just take your organs because it is YOUR BODY, YOUR CHOICE.

    • Myev says...

      Jill, I would love for you to look into the face of a 13 year old incest victim and tell her that she needs to carry her rapist’s child in order to “heal the violence” done against her. That is monstrous.

    • kim says...

      Yes, PENNY!
      PENNY SAYS…
      What if that unborn girl grows up to be a victim of rape and incest? Doesn’t that young girl have the right not to be forced into pregnancy and childbirth? Or do her rights only last for as long as she is unborn, and once she’s born it’s fair game to take her body autonomy away from her?

    • Grace says...

      If it can’t survive without my body, then it is PART OF my body, like an organ or a tumor. It’s a very simple concept.

  106. RobberSoup says...

    This whole thing has my stomach in knots. I’m reading Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay, and this line just seemed so relevant: “You need to understand the extent of your privilege, and remain aware that people who are different from you move through and experience the world in ways you might never know anything about. They might endure situations you might never know anything about.” Yes, in a perfect world, without rape, without incest, without economic inequality, without systemic racism or sexism, with equality for all, abortion would not be needed and would be unthinkable. But we don’t all have the privilege to live in that world. And to put energy into punishing people without that privilege, instead of changing the world, is just such a waste.

    • Weili says...

      Eloquently said!

    • Shawna says...

      Perfect.

    • Yes!

    • Anie says...

      Yes. Well said

    • Erin says...

      Thank you, exactly right.

    • Isa says...

      Great said!!!

    • PB says...

      Thank you for this! I struggle to find the right words when I speak to someone who uses a privileged answer, such as “there are so many options for a pregnant woman.”
      How can we possibly put ourselves in the shoes of every woman in this country? Women who are desperate to end their pregnancies will continue to seek out abortions — whether they are safe or not. History has proven this over and over.
      Shouldn’t we give women the opportunity to choose a safe abortion? And while we’re at it, shouldn’t we give them access to contraception and maternal health care? Maybe maternity leave, too?
      It baffles me that limiting abortion rights is the first priority on this list for so many lawmakers. It suggests how truly out of touch they are with their constituents.
      Please support groups who truly support all women, such as Planned Parenthood and the National Network of Abortion Funds. Thank you Cup of Jo for highlighting this important issue!!

    • özlem says...

      so true!

    • Abigail says...

      Yes, this comment is everything I feel. I’d add that in an ideal world, women wouldn’t endure social shaming for conceiving a child outside of marriage, which does still happen, particularly in the exact same places where access to abortion is hardest (or impossible).

    • Nissa says...

      THIS!

    • Kay says...

      YES.

    • Jen says...

      The bill articulates that women who have abortions will not be criminally prosecuted.

      “Relating to abortion… to provide that a woman who receives an abortion will not be held criminally culpable or civilly liable for receiving the abortion….”

      Section 5 states, “No woman upon whom an abortion is performed or attempted to be performed shall be criminally or civilly liable….”

      Would we look at a murder and say, “well there were a lot of reasons that pushed this person to commit murder, so we should try to change those things before we say murder is wrong.” No, murder is wrong regardless of the privilege or situation of the people involved. It transcends us.

      of course we should care about the issues surrounding abortion (which the Pro-life community is massively failing at doing this), but that doesn’t make abortion any less wrong.

    • Jen says...

      So let’s put our influence, our resources, our energies into fighting the mechanisms that you say make abortion necessary. Let’s fight human trafficking, let’s fight inequities, let’s work to get resources in the hands of families who have none, let’s fight wrongful imprisonment, let’s fight sexism and the patriarchal approaches to dealing with sexual assault of any and every kind in all institutions, public and private. Let’s do those things with all that we have within us and not punish the innocent lives that are so easily disregarded and discarded.

    • Ne says...

      ❤️

    • Jess says...

      ONCE MORE FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      beautifully said.

    • jane says...

      thumbs up

    • Elizabeth says...

      Thank you. Perfect quote. Cop of Jo should add quotes like these to every Friday post…

    • linds says...

      THIS. THIS THIS THIS. Thank you for posting this robbersoup. Thank you, Joanna, for putting this out there. My job is working with women in the South, and some have had to make this VERY DIFFICULT decision in an area where there is little access not to mention poor health outcomes for women in general. Protect women. Support women. PERIOD.

  107. Amarra says...

    Yes!! Thank you so much for this!

  108. Kelly says...

    I fully recognize that Cup of Jo does not share my political views whatsoever, yet I continue to be a reader for the other content and I’m sure that I’m not the only one. I feel like it needs to be said, abortion is violence. I applaud the state of Alabama for protecting the most vulnerable among us. There is no science to support a completely outdated idea that “embryos” are not fully human and deserve rights as such. Even in cases of rape and incest (which account for somewhere around 1% of all abortions—and that’s being generous) the embryonic human should not have to pay the penalty of another persons wrong. Women deserve better than abortion.

    • Marisa says...

      Laws like this are violence against human beings. Full stop. Unless you don’t think women are human beings? DO NOT TELL WOMEN WHAT THEY “DESERVE”.

    • M says...

      Embryos are not “fully human” because they cannot survive outside of the womb. This is not outdated science, it is fact. Embryos cannot feel pail until 27 weeks, which is the third trimester. The definition of violence is “behavior involving physical force intended to hurt.” If an embryo cannot feel pain or “hurt,” abortion cannot be considered violence against the embryo.

    • Dana says...

      I agree. Women do deserve better. We deserve science-based sex education, ready access to birth control and family planning, mental health services, paid family leave, economic assistance for those of us who are struggling to support ourselves/our families, an end to systemic racism/sexism, access to an affordable higher education, autonomy over our bodies, etc.

      A huge percentage of women in this country do not have access to these essentials– these women are the vulnerable ones. Outlawing abortion will not solve anything, especially without a huge overhaul in social services in this country.

      Forcing a women to bring a child into the world that she isn’t able to care for isn’t an act of kindness for the child. It’s an act of violence against the child and the mother.

    • Mimi says...

      Hear, hear!

    • Mimi says...

      KELLY- hear, hear!

    • A says...

      Women deserve better than rape and incest and violence against them. Women deserve better than being force to carry unwanted pregnancies. Women deserve better.

    • Marianne says...

      Well said, Kelly, I’m with you 100%.

    • Elizabeth says...

      I agree with you Kelly. I read and love so much of what is shared here at Cup of Jo even though I don’t (always) agree with the politics. I fear that abortions are some of most egregious culturally sanctioned acts of violence of our time. Just as we look back and feel appalled at the regular infanticide practices in Roman times or child sacrifices of ancient indigenous societies, I imagine in the future people will look back and lament how we so willingly advocated the disposal of innocent new life . Especially after the advent of technology, which has given us such an important window into the development of a child. This is no longer an matter of ignorance. We know what we see: it’s a human life deserving of human rights. As a woman, I am a life giver. I simply can’t support the taking of innocent life.

    • Lauren says...

      Marisa, I’m fully pro-choice, but I used to be a conservative Christian, and I think that if pro-choicers REALLY want to try to change minds, actually understanding the people who they’re trying to change would be a good place to start! It embarrasses me when my conservative family members point out that ‘lefties’ talk a lot about respect and dialogue and education. . . but then won’t listen to people who disagree with them.

      I think people would agree that rape is never OK, no matter what any woman does to a man. Similarly as a Christian I believed that murder was never OK, no matter what ‘good’ a murder might do. I believed that all ‘products of conception’ were human, not just because of DNA or heartbeats or whatever, but because I believed it was God who ultimately made people, and that he called them people before they were born, and that life was sacred. Abortion really was simply murder, to me: I used to cry about it, get angry about it, pray about it, and beg God to help change people’s minds. Imagine if someone got mad at you for being horrified at police brutality. Would you be inclined to listen to that person?

      I’m not saying that pro-lifers as a whole are any better at listening, but why can’t we lead the way? Of course it could be naive to think that civility would actually do anything to change minds; maybe the anger is actually good for mobilizing people, and necessary. I wish that at least in private, people would listen more than getting angry.

    • tara says...

      Wow. Where do you guys get your numbers from?

      Again, body autonomy matters. You can’t force a woman to undergo childbirth after she has been raped.

    • Neha says...

      Abortion is a very difficult decision, by calling it violence and taking the decision out of the woman’s own hand, you are trying to simplify it and remove the ambiguity which is inherent in such life and death decision. I think LAWS should recognise this ambiguity and not try to fit every decision in their straight-jacket.

      To believe every abortion is right or to believe abortion is wrong – are two equally thoughtless solutions, and laws should not be thoughtless.

      Women abort for many kinds of reasons, and not just for incest or rape, but never is that decision easy. And if it is an easy decision, then I would suspect either the woman is mentally unfit or the society has failed her so badly that she cannot conceive the idea of bringing an innocent child into this world.

    • Maureen says...

      If you don’t believe in abortion, don’t get one. This issue is as much about choice and liberty to control what happens to ones body. You can believe what you want and so can everyone else. The government however should not police anyone’s body, especially since there is so little support for mother in terms of benefits and maternity leave.

    • Penny says...

      I can’t think of anyone more vulnerable than a child who is a victim of rape or incest. Forced pregnancy or childbirth is undoubtedly an act of physical and psychological violence. And I don’t know the statistics for how many abortions are performed in cases or rape or incest (and both these things are likely to be under-reported) but if even one woman or girl is protected from forced pregnancy or childbirth, it’s worth it.

    • Cin. says...

      So well written. Yes I agree with you. Guess I stay with the blog for other content too.

    • Shirley says...

      My guess is that you yourself have never been raped nor have you known someone who has been raped or a victim of incest. As a mental health therapist, I work with clients who have been raped by their fathers, brothers, uncles, etc. on a regular basis. The healing that my clients need takes a large toll on all of us who care for them. If they, many of whom are young girls, also needed to take care of a baby or to grow and birth a baby, most of them would not survive. Unless you can say that you are also intricately exposed to this on a regular basis, please do not drop simple lines like “protecting the most vulnerable among us.” You are simply overlooking the girls and women who would suffer even more as a result of this ban, and the lawmakers are also looking to strip government subsidies and child care credits to help these very same girls if they do end up having these children. What exactly are you doing to help these girls and women?????

    • KM says...

      Where are you and those state politicians you applaud when those babies (who were not planned for) and their mothers need healthcare, food, shelter, quality education? How can you call yourself “pro-life” when you wash your hands of any sense of moral responsibility once those babies are born?

      You want LESS abortions? GOOD. Push for access to free / affordable contraceptives, healthcare, sex education. And by sex education, I mean REAL sex education – the kind that prevents unwanted pregnancies, not the kind that injects teen minds with fear and ignorance, leading to all kinds of personal disasters. Feast your eyes on the stats showing that making abortion illegal does NOT decrease rates of abortion – it just makes them less safe, because desperate people do desperate things. Free / affordable contraceptives, healthcare, sex education – those are things proven to decrease abortion rates.

      If you’re gonna call yourself pro-life, then for the love of God and whatever else you worship, BE! PRO! LIFE!!!

      I am so sick of this hypocrisy – the overflow of concern for unborn fetuses, alongside the cold disregard (and sometimes utter contempt) for the less fortunate living beings around you. Grow some empathy. Learn to understand that people face all kinds of hardships that are unfathomable to the lucky ones among us, and then use that newfound perspective to temper the ugly judgments you make against people who make decisions that outrage or disgust you.

      You want to make positive change in the world? Let sound research and common sense and empathy guide you. Adopt any other approach, and you’ll just be contributing to the problem.

    • Kiana says...

      Hi Kelly, I don’t know where you got that statistic for rape and incest but I’d like to point out that if there is a statistic like that it is for reported cases that have a police report. We know that rape is sadly underreported in this country so there may be more instances than we know of it. But if it’s so rare, why not make an exception in the law?

      Second, the law also applies to women who have had miscarriages in which case a prosecutor must determine whether that woman actively tried to end her pregnancy. Have you ever been through a miscarriage? I’ve had two and during my pain and grief, the last thing I need is a zealot interrogating and investigating me.
      Furthermore, I don’t think you realize that an embryo is a living thing but it’s not a baby. If you want to suggest that all living things should be given the rights of a person, perhaps sperm should have rights. Really. They are living things. Why don’t we make all men have vasectomies? Then there would be no unexpected pregnancies right? And no death of a living thing if no man masturbates. So why don’t we? Perhaps because our legislators are men and in power?

    • TMH says...

      Yes women do deserve something better – however until men can also bear this burden and be held equally accountable for the action of conception, then it is a woman’s prerogative to make the decision whether or not to carry that life into the world. This ruling is not about the definition of “fully human.” The ruling is about who holds the power to decide. It is her choice. Not a man’s and most certainly not the governments.

      At the very least we all agree that abortions are a horrible and heartbreaking and yes the world would be a better place if we didn’t need them but I don’t live in that world and whether you choose to acknowledge it our not, either do you.

    • Eva says...

      So tired of hearing what “women” need, deserve, or should want. Seriously.

    • H says...

      Women deserve the right to choose what is ‘better’ for them. We are not all clones.

    • Theresa says...

      Thank you Kelly! Also a pro-life Cup of Jo reader! Appreciate you speaking up for the unborn!

    • D says...

      If you believe abortion is violence then I am sure you are active in speaking out against school shootings and gun reform ( more than sending your thoughts & prayers)? If you believe women should have unwanted children then I am sure you donate money and time to the foster care system, or you support people on welfare and encourage raising the minimum wage so that those poor families forced to have children when they are not prepared are able to raise them successfully and not just continue the cycle?

      Most of the people who are anti abortion are conservatives who can’t stop preaching about their second amendment rights and love to blanket everything by using religion. It would be wonderful if “Christians” cared as much about blacks being killed unjustly, first graders being gunned down in their classrooms, children in cages etc etc etc as much as the unborn. They want to preach about the fetus but then don’t even care about the life once it is actually here. How many people picketing abortion clinics actually are foster parents?

    • sarah says...

      Yes!! Completely agree. The majority of abortions are not caused by rape or incest as well. The only violence being done is when the baby is killed.

    • R says...

      What is the “wrong,” exactly? Having sex? Is the argument that women, and not men, should be punished for the “mistake” of sex by being conscripted by the state to incubate an embryo/fetus?

    • Krystal says...

      People deserve access to the healthcare they choose. Period. Forcing someone to carry child to term is violence. Period. The magical thing about the right to choose is that you get to choose what is right for you, and I get to choose what is right for me. How dare anyone applaud the loss of human rights.

    • Heather says...

      I agree with you, Kelly. And I appreciate that Cup of Jo is passionate about what they believe, but I disagree on this issue. Abortion is violence, and violence is never the answer.

    • Gemma says...

      Embryos are not humans. That’s why they’re called embryos.

    • Sarah says...

      I have a different opinion than you but I want to learn more about your views. Fertility clinics have many fertilized embryos that do not end up being implanted. Do you also view the destruction of these embryos as violence? Should fertility doctors also be held accountable for the “lives” of all these unborn babies? A women may get pregnant unintentionally (by many means ranging from rape to failed birth control) but if a couple is pursuing fertility treatments it is very intentional and it’s because they very much want to be parents. Do you view this as acts of violence? Are they criminals if they can’t give all their embryos the opportunity to develop into babies? Where and how do you draw the line when it comes to women’s choices and their bodies?

    • Lydia says...

      Legal abortion does not take any rights from embryos that actual people don’t have. You can’t force someone to give up their body for someone else, embryo, fetus, infant, child, or adult. Organ donation is a choice, even though not donating causes other people to die. Blood donation is a choice even when it is required to save someone’s life. When I die, I get to decide whether my organs go to save someone else’s life or whether I get to keep them. If I get that choice when I’m dead, why do you want to take that choice away from me when I’m alive?

    • Mela says...

      If they want to really protect the most vulnerable, how about they start controlling guns instead of my uterus.

    • Nicole says...

      That’s like saying “teenagers” or “toddlers” aren’t human. An embryo doesn’t denote another species. It’s a stage of development.

    • Elizabeth says...

      So the the *child* who is impregnated (violently assaulted) by rape or incest is really being given a gift… to experience her full rights as a *woman* to carry that fetus to term? You really need to be a foster mom then and raise all the unwanted babies born from violence. It’s really the least you could do.

    • KC says...

      Gemma, at what point then do they become “human” if not at conception?

      I’ve always struggled with the notion that In the case of early miscarriage, we have become very vocal about support and acknowledgment of the loss of that baby (as we should!). But when it comes to abortion, early or late, we are supposed to do the opposite and minimize the worth of that life as “not human.” To me, it seems these ideas are at odds… is an embryo only considered a baby if it is wanted?

      Not trying to argue disrespectfully, truly would like to hear your point of view.

    • Jennifer says...

      All these women agreeing with this comment must be lucky and have the means and resources necessary to never need an abortion service. If any of you became pregnant you surely seem to have the support you need to carry that pregnancy to term and raise that child in a loving home. Your lives wouldn’t be upended, and you’d carry on in your blissful manner.

      How about we think about our sisters, friends, co-workers, or even strangers on the street who may not have that luxury?

    • Kelly says...

      I’d like to respond to a few of the major themes running through these responses. And thank you to those of you who disagreed with me yet succeeded in maintaining a respectful and thoughtful tone (it’s hard to do!)

      I’d like to first speak to my point on human embryos being “persons” and having rights as such. Some of you (understandably) disagreed. One person responded that embryos aren’t fully human because they can’t survive on their own. I don’t think that’s good enough logic—how does a baby in utero differ from a person who depends on a caretaker full time? Dependence does not negate personhood.

      The second theme that kept coming up was a personal one – what am I doing to help women? There seemed to be an assumption that the answer to that question was nothing at all. And while I am not a qualified professional to help women work through trauma, I have been there for women who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. In fact, this past year while pregnant with a baby of my own, I spent 4 months believing I would be bringing home a severely disabled baby of a woman who was planning to abort. I offered to help her by taking that baby and adopting him as my own. That baby, sadly, passed away a few weeks before he was due. Also, I donate money regularly to an organization that supports women who need access to health care or food/shelter/counseling/etc – whether they have chosen to abort OR NOT. And while I have never personally done foster care, I have brought meals, offered respite, and walked beside MANY FAMILY MEMBERS AND FRIENDS WHO HAVE. So to say that I wash my hands of “any moral responsibility” once a baby is born is very far from the truth, and quite honestly maddening to my core. I think if you looked closer you might find that to be true of many Pro life people, and many people who have different opinions than you in general. It doesn’t make you a bad person just because you disagree with me, or I you.

      One more very important point is this: Even if I had not lifted a finger to help mommas in crisis or their babies, I would still be very much entitled to hold the opinion that lives in the womb matter. We do not have to earn “our right” to have opinions like this. I get that people disagree about whether or not life begins in the womb. But for those of us who do hold that view—what monsters would we be if we did not feel compelled to speak out for them?

      Someone else asked if I’d ever miscarried—and the answer to that incredibly personal question is yes, twice. One of my babies was to the point where I could see clear features beginning to form. If that wasn’t a baby, then I don’t know what else it could be.

      One last word about IVF – Sarah, I wouldn’t personally pursue IVF based on my beliefs HOWEVER I allow for more grey there based on my research about “primitive streak” – look into it for the details. Once primitive streak has occurred, (around 14 days) there DEFINITELY is a real live baby beginning to form. Most IVF embryos are frozen at 5/6 days, I believe. Hope that helps! Wish I could respond to each and every point/accusation but…

  109. Quinn says...

    Abortion is a consent issue. Pregnancy and birth without consent is state-sanctioned sexual enslavement. There is no softer or less accurate way to put it. Either I own all of my body, all the time, or I am not a free person under the law. These evil men can yell all day about unborn babies, but the only question that matters is if the person with the uterus is a person. I’m 32 weeks pregnant with my second child. I was able to choose both pregnancies, and not choose the one that would have most likely ended in late miscarriage or stillbirth, because I lived in a state (Oregon) where I was a legally recognized adult person. I am choosing to share my body this way. The difference between intimacy and assault is consent. Abortion is self-defense. Our response to this should be in line with any other threat to our physical safety and freedom.

    • Pearls says...

      Thank you

    • Well said.

    • G says...

      Your words are so powerful. Thank you.

    • Alix says...

      Well said Quinn. Thank you. State sanctioned sexual enslavement is horrifying and accurate.

    • Alana says...

      it’s unhelpful to paint the other side as simply evil men. A lot of women support the Alabama bill. They see it as not trying to enslave you, but rather to protect vulnerable lives from being killed for convenience, in most cases. What kind of society do we live in if you think your freedom supersedes the right of others to life?

    • Gemma says...

      “Pregnancy and birth without consent is state-sanctioned sexual enslavement.” YES!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes to this!!!

    • jane says...

      THIS:
      “The difference between intimacy and assault is consent. Abortion is self-defense.”

    • amanda brown says...

      YESSSSS!!!!!

      Forced birth extremists is my new favorite term for the people who are pushing these laws.

      And lets be clear, the majority of abortions are committed by choice for unwanted pregnancies in the first tri-mester. Rape and incest and medically necessary abortions are extreme cases. IT IS OK FOR A WOMAN TO NOT WANT TO BE A MOTHER EITHER AT ALL OR BEFORE SHE IS READY.

      until men are held to the same standard of responsibility for unintended pregnancies it is as you said- state sanctioned sexual enslavement.

    • jane says...

      Both of these things but also
      THIS:
      “The difference between intimacy and assault is consent. Abortion is self-defense.”

    • Danielle says...

      Thank you, so much, for this. I have copied your quote and am sharing your eloquent words with my friends and family when discussing this difficult topic.

  110. Mary says...

    Look. I believe life starts at conception—stuff is def happening in those cells—but that does not change the fact that women have the right to choose their own path and what to do with their life and bodies.
    Another commenter said this but parenthood has only solidified my pro-choice values because NO ONE should have to endure pregnancy, childbirth or child rearing if they don’t want to or can’t. And again, these men (and some women) are OBSESSED with these unborn embryos but where are they when that baby is here and it can’t be fed, educated or cared for?
    Women will still get abortions and die trying. They need to be legal and safe and private. End of story.

    • susie says...

      I could not agree more Mary – where are these politicians when these children they care so much about need affordable childcare, access to health care or are being shot in their classrooms? We have so much to do to protect the children who are already born.

    • Stacy says...

      Thank you Mary, this is very well said.

    • Anne says...

      Fully agree!

    • JFS says...

      Yes to this. Thank you.

    • Sondra says...

      Your comment resonates with everything I feel…thank you for your eloquence.

    • Katie Bunyea says...

      THIS. Agreed.

  111. Jay says...

    “Why do so many women feel it’s their right to decide when their baby is viable/human/worthy of life?”

    So it’s the right of men to decide then for everyone what’s best? That logic doesn’t make sense.

    • Jessie says...

      I appreciate that Cup of Jo presents a range of views, however I believe that the best way to support un wanted pregnancies is to provide support to the mother, not to punish the child.

  112. Sara says...

    Why do you feel it’s your right to decide for other women when their baby is viable/human/worthy of life, knowing nothing about her health, her history, her child(ren) or her life?

    • Alana says...

      What?? Since when do we have the right to determine the value of others and whether they deserve to live or not, based on whether their lives are convenient to us ?

  113. jamie says...

    My mother was widowed at 32 years old when my father was killed in a auto accident. She became the single mother of three children ages 4, 8 and 12 years old. A year later she had a brief encounter and became pregnant. Terrified that she would lose her job and income, she chose to abort the pregnancy. Our neighbors and her life long friends drove her to a hack “doctor” in Tijuana, Mexico. She nearly lost her life and we nearly lost our mother. She went on to become an advocate for women’s rights and started a group at the county office she worked in to further the advancement of women in an all male environment. That group is still active 61 years later. Shame on these men. It sickens me that they are trying to take us back to the dark ages.

    • Marta says...

      I´m sorry because my english isn´t very good.
      I think things like this make horrible things happen,
      for example, lose your life. Abortion must be a right to be a human being Not as a rule, but as a personal decision, and taking into account the months
      I think Alabama is confused. The USA is a great country that has to advance on these issues in some states
      Marta from Spain

    • Bonnie says...

      I’m so proud of your mother. Thank you for sharing her story.

    • Ker says...

      I applaud your mother and am so so sorry she endured that awful experience. No woman should ever be at risk like that while taking control of her body, and making the best choice for her future (and her family).

    • K says...

      thank you for sharing this personal experience.

  114. Z says...

    This whole thing is almost like it could be one of the footnotes to “complicated mother&daughter relationships.” I wonder how many mothers were coerced or forced in one way or other to become mothers because of reasons like this.

  115. Margaret says...

    I am pro-life, because I believe that life begins at conception. The idea of arbitrarily choosing some week of gestation to say “this is now a human being, but yesterday you had the right to kill it” makes no sense. That’s not science or medicine, it’s just drawing a pragmatic line.

    HOWEVER, I do sympathize with the many women and girls who find themselves with an unwanted pregnancy. I really appreciated the part of this post about how we can decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies through proactive education, readily available birth control, etc. I would like to add that advocating for post-birth support is important too. If the US offered better maternity leave, low-cost childcare, etc, I also think more women would feel that they can handle bringing a child into the world. Pro-life activists need to do a lot more than just try to repeal Roe if we actually want to protect children.

    • Allison says...

      Thank you! We may be on different sides of this issue, but there is a lot we agree on. So often I feel like people who are pro-life are also anti-birth control, sex ed, healthcare, maternity leave, etc. There is mutual ground and it would be nice to start there.

    • Elizabeth says...

      Love this Margaret! I agree, we need to discuss what is easier to agree on: more proactive approaches to birth control and better availability, better education, donation to adoptive services and advocacy, etc. I am pro-life and also happy to pay for anyone’s birth control!

    • Christina Copp says...

      I’m 110% pro-choice, but I really respect that from your pro-life point of view, you still show sympathy for women in a tough situation and your suggestions about decreasing unwanted pregnancies. A very respectful, thoughtful add to the conversation.

    • Jenny says...

      Yes, Margaret! Thank you. I don’t know a single woman who is “pro-abortion.” It’s ALWAYS the choice of last resort. But it should be a choice.

    • Amy says...

      thank you for sharing your thoughts Margaret—I agree with you and wish I had articulated my thoughts this well!

    • Megan says...

      I am pro-choice and appreciate this thoughtful comment. It’s very, very discouraging that some state governments and the federal government do not do more to substantially help women and their families at every stage, particularly when those making the laws, by and large, are very well-resourced men, and those who will suffer the consequences are low income women.

    • chandra says...

      But none of those alternatives deal with the reality of needs generated by forced pregnancy.

    • Natalie says...

      Great point!

  116. smk says...

    I respect that many people, for reasons of faith, upbringing, or personal circumstances, may be against abortion. But what I do not understand is imposing one’s personal view on another woman, and denying her right to make a decision that she feels is best for her based on her own reasons of faith, upbringing, or personal circumstances. Why does pro-life mean imposing one’s will on a woman and denying her right to exercise her own will? This I fundamentally do not understand.

    • Kristen says...

      As a woman of faith, please know this isn’t our will we intend to impose; it is the will of the God we seek to honor by protecting the babies He has lovingly created (whatever the circumstance, He LOVES them). Recognizing that the murder of these babies is sin and that sin always causes separation from a holy God, we desperately hope women all over the world will not believe the empty lie that abortion is a better choice than the will of God. We long for women to fully know the joy of Jesus throughout any struggle, and His power to redeem any situation. I write this with love and respect, and hope it will be received that way.

    • Mb says...

      I find Kristen’s comment deeply disturbing. I was raised religious—and I am no longer part of any faith. Regardless, I never believed that my beliefs were the only ones and the ones that every person should follow. We have separation of church and state as one of the cornerstones of the government of the United States.

    • H says...

      Every religious extremist seeks to impose the ‘will of their god’. You have that in common with Isis. I hope you recognize that.

  117. Brooke says...

    Leave our bodies alone.
    Leave our bodies alone.
    Leave our bodies alone.

    -Babies in the womb

    • escondista says...

      Pregnant women are saying the same thing.

      Denying women autonomy over their bodies is some theocratic Taliban-like dystopia that i don’t want to live in.

      If you don’t agree with abortions, then don’t have one, Brooke.

    • TMH says...

      and the men under their breath

      Thank god she didn’t have it.
      Thank god she didn’t have it.
      Thank god she didn’t have it.

    • Incensed says...

      Brooke, have you ever had babies? There is no baby anywhere (in utero or not) who wants to be “left alone.” An embryo’s development is entirely dependent on the mother’s body, not on being “left alone,” and this neediness doesn’t go away once babies are born either. For years! While I understand the point of this comment was to accuse pro-choice women of hypocrisy (or something) I think it shows instead how the pro-life stance is often SO OUT OF TOUCH with the realities of raising children, like the “rights of the unborn” just exist in a vacuum. No to this imagined mantra of “babies in the womb.” Just no.

  118. Kristen Jerome says...

    I really like your blog and read it (almost) daily. It seems like you enjoy a large readership.
    I never comment but I feel compelled to on this issue. So many people are concerned with human rights and treating people with dignity and respect, and rightly so. I’m just perpetually confused about so many people’s denial that these same rights should be afforded to the (living ) unborn human beings.

    • M2 says...

      I have seen so many children who have been born to mothers who do not want them or can’t support them once they have the child. It is horrible. Maybe we should start taking care of the kids who are yknow alive.

      It frightens me how all these people who want to stop abortions also stop programs that actually help children who are alive! So many of these same people want to stop medicade, food programs, welfare, public housing, free childcare etc.

      Just look at any research on free lunch and how there is lunch shaming or watch the foster documentary on HBO (although that is a nice story many foster kids have horror stories). Or that 5 year old boy who was killed by his parents and had been in the foster system for the first 18 months of his life and had been visited by CPS of Illinois 27 times yet was still in that abusive household. We need to sort out real children and protect them before we start telling women what they should be doing to their bodies. I have been pregnant and no one on this earth will be telling when I can be pregnant! No one!!

      It’s all fine and dandy to yell that you are anti abortion but are you actually pro children? Because our taxes would need to be raised a lot more to raise all of these children and when the time comes I am guessing you and all the people hollering about fetus’ would vote against it.

    • escondista says...

      I think people are pragmatic about this issue, Kristen. If banning abortion meant that no child would die and every child would be born to a family that desires it and have access the the healthcare and education it deserves…then everyone would be all for it.
      Reality shows us that women will not just accept pregnancy that they do not want. Many will do things to try to miscarry which could harm them and seriously disable their babies. People in countries with bans drink bleach, get cut up by people who are untrained, and throw themselves down stairs, etc…
      If you love all children, then instead of fighting abortion you can help children who are born to less than ideal circumstances. Volunteer at a diaper bank, become a big brother/big sister to foster children, foster a child in need, go read at schools, and offer to help teachers in under-served communities.
      Your big heart can do a lot more good for those children than an embryo at this point.

    • Alana says...

      Agree!

    • Katie says...

      The personhood of an embryo is irrelevant. No organ, or blood, or bone marrow or anything else can be taken from my body without my consent, even if it is to save another person’s life. Even when I’m dead, unless I give consent while alive, no one can take anything from my body even if it is to save another life. By the same logic of the rest of the laws concerning body autonomy, no one can force me to be an incubator for a life, providing shelter, blood, oxygen from my body, without my consent. The life of another doesn’t override my right to body autonomy.

      Also, the countries with the lowest abortion rates are ones where abortion is legal. 🤷‍♀️

  119. Rachel says...

    As someone who works for the ACLU, I urge you to please consider donating to smaller organizations supporting women on the ground, like the Yellowhammer Fund and other state-based abortion funds. While the ACLU does amazing litigation and policy work, we’re also a big name and receive A LOT of money! If you have limited means to contribute, please consider supporting community-led organizations that provide direct support to womxn that might receive less media attention than the ACLU and others.

    • Cam says...

      Seconding this, very enthusiastically! NARAL, Planned Parenthood, and local non-profits (like the Abortion Fund of Arizona, in my state) need your help! Abortion is a community issue, as well as a healthcare service. Let’s act locally AND globally.

    • Lauren Cesca says...

      Thank you, Rachel. This is really good advice.

    • Stacy says...

      Thank you Rachel!

    • Anna says...

      …AND! If you’re like me and lucky enough to live in a state that isn’t on the frontlines, pick a state’s on-the-ground organizations and support the sisters, mothers and daughters who are directly affected by lack of access and resources. Give what you can each month in time or money or both. I pick Ohio – where do you pick?

  120. Jane says...

    Thank you so much for taking a stand and for being brave!

    I’m in the midst of my first (and very wanted) pregnancy, and it has made me even more passionate about making sure all women have safe, accessible, affordable, and LEGAL healthcare during this process. There are so many reasons as to why a pregnancy may need to be terminated, and they are so personal and unique to each woman. Why would it ever make sense for government to get involved in that complicated, sensitive, and highly specific situation? A woman should always be able to choose.

    This new legislation is a terrible threat to all women, and I’m horrified at the scope. The U.S. needs to do better, and I’ll do my best to help.

  121. Fig says...

    Two things:

    1) My mom is a conservative muslim woman who has never had an abortion but supports other women’s and her daughters’ right to do so wholeheartedly. She remembers that one spring afternoon when she was sitting with her own mother in their garden. She was 8 years old. She has a vivid memory of one of their neighbors’ running to my grandma for help; “a river of blood was following her” she recalls (translation is mine). That image of a “river of blood” got stuck in her mind, and in my mind too, poor woman was probably bleeding out. When abortion is made inaccessible, women die. They die and leave their hopes and dreams behind. They die and leave their other children behind. This has always been the case, and will be the case. An abortion ban does not save unborn potential lives, it kills actual living human beings. This is a well-proven fact, and the fact that people don’t care about this only means that they don’t care about women dying.

    2) Imagine this scenario: You are in a burning building. In one room, there is a jar with a thousand embryos in it. In an another room, there is small child crying out loud for help. Which one would you save? I assume, and hope, that you’d save the child, not the jar. Which makes it clear that legally, conscientiously, ethically, biologically there is a difference between a thousand embryos and a child.
    I saw this on the internet last year (sorry, I don’t remember where exactly I saw it). Whenever someone says abortion is murder, I just respond with this thought experiment, and which leaves people stunned.

    I am just sad. So sad.

    • Lana Nubs says...

      What about this. Do you save a box of your embryos or do you save the life of a woman who will die of cancer tomorrow? If you choose the embryos, is the cancer-ridden woman therefore of no moral value?

    • NM says...

      I love this thought experiment. And it is something that is so relevant because— hello fertility clinics. Helping women who WANT to become mothers also results in discarding embryos. Are we going to shut those down too?

      And re the comment on cancer ridden women who will die tomorrow… I think you’re missing the point.
      The girls (and women) forced to carry unwanted embryos are the human lives in the room.

  122. Elisabeth says...

    Thank you, Joanna and crew! In addition to donating to ACLU, Yellowhammer Fund, and Planned Parenthood or NARAL., the most urgent thing we need to do now is to call the Missouri governor — the MO senate passed an 8-week ban, but the governor hasn’t signed it yet. I talked to his office today. Will you? 573-751-3222. He’s also on Twitter and IG at @GovParsonMO. There’s an email form on his website. Missouri’s First Lady is also proud of violating women’s constitutional rights. She’s @FirstLadyTeresa on Twitter and @flteresaparson on IG. They urgently need to know that the constitutional rights of people with uteruses matter, too.

    • Gemma says...

      I called! Thank you!

  123. Ksm says...

    Separating children from parents at borders, refusing refugee children and women, doing nothing about gun laws that take thousands of children’s lives… it is high time people stop pretending the abortion issue is Religious or about heartbeat. Coz clearly it shows how much you really care about any fetus’s lives after they are born.

    • Gemma says...

      100% agree!!!

    • Melissa says...

      The above, absolutely.

  124. Thanks!

  125. Amy T says...

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. That’s all.

  126. T says...

    Controlling abortion is treating the symptom not the cause. If conservatives REALLY want less terminations, they will prioritize it over their outdated concepts of sex and it’s education. For a compelling argument for this listen to Armchair Expert: Esther Perel. Also see: Design Moms twitter thread on how most abortions are caused by irresponsible ejaculations. Hold your sons accountable. You want less abortions? Swallow your pride and start talking about sex. It’s one or the other. You can’t have both.

    • Caitlin says...

      Yes! And give quality access to health care, paid maternity and paternity leave, affordable daycare, etc.

  127. Cece says...

    So if the “fetus” is 21 weeks, 6 days, and 23 hours, it could still be aborted? What happens in that 1 hour that changes the situation? How do you define viability? By definition viability is “the ability to survive on one’s own.” A terminally ill patient may require constant, round-the-clock care. They can’t survive on their own. Are they not viable or worthy of protection and care? A toddler left alone for days at a time can’t survive. By definition they are not viable….
    The viability argument is on very shaky ground.
    Why when Meghan Markle and Beyonce and Amal Clooney announce their pregnancies do we celebrate the new BABY, but otherwise we’re just talking about a “clump of cells” / “fetus”?

    • SM says...

      Those babies are called “babies” because all those women want them, and is often sharing the news because they’re expecting a baby at the end of their pregnancy.

      Part of the reason we know that they want those babies is because they live in a country where abortion and birth control are easily and readily available and (to them) affordable. We know they’re able to control their bodies, and they have final say on whether they get pregnant and whether they’ll have a baby at the end of that pregnancy.

      I think what some of these people talking about “life at conception” or talking about timing when it comes to abortions are missing is that your thoughts on another person’s pregnancy ultimately does not matter. You don’t have to deal with that pregnancy, or the results thereof. The pregnant person’s thoughts (and body) matter the most when it comes to whether they want their pregnancy to end with a baby, or simply end.

      It’s their body, their choice. Not yours.

      The flipside of this is when people have miscarriages, they mourn their lost baby because they didn’t want their pregnancies to end like that. And their grief is real, their loss is real. No matter when they lost that baby, no one would say they simply lost a “clump of cells.” They lost a person because they felt they did.

    • Sarah says...

      What happens is that the fetus becomes viable outside the uterus. Your argument about terminally ill patients and toddlers is a straw man and intellectually dishonest. Of course they need care, but they are not parasites, drawing on the physical bodies of other living beings. It’s also a straw man because only 2% of abortions are done after 20 weeks and over half of those are because the life of the mother is in danger or the fetus has some severe abnormality.

    • Kat van der Hoorn says...

      The difference here is a toddler can be cared for by any other consenting adult, such as *father*, caregiver, childcare, etc. A terminally ill patient requires care from doctors. Fathers, childcare and doctors DO NOT loose their bodily autonomy to care for the toddler, or terminally in patient. It doesn’t force them to completely change the course of their health, lives and existence to care for that person. The embryo cannot survive without the bodily functions of a single human host, who unequivocally looses their bodily autonomy to host that being. The complete loss of that autonomy unquestionably should be a choice.

    • Katie says...

      Would you let a terminally ill patient crawl into your womb to survive?

    • Krista says...

      “Viability” was introduced and essentially defined by the Supreme Court in this context to mean “capable of life outside the womb.” Like many words, “viability” will have different meanings in different contexts – fortunately, most of us are capable of distinguishing meanings based on context.

      And, also thankfully, the Court was very clear what it means in the narrow context of abortion rights, so you don’t need to worry about this for one minute longer!

  128. Karishma says...

    In a time where a lot of bloggers are scared to take a political stand (bc heaven forbid they lose followers or sponsors), I truly appreciate that Cup of Jo doesn’t shy away from taking a stance on important issues. I’m truly disgusted with our country right now.

  129. Jennifer says...

    Thank you for discussing the very pertinent issue of decreasing unwanted preganancies. In this day and age in our country, an unwanted pregnancy should be a rare event. As a practicing physician in Alabama, it has always frustrated me that the abortion debate focuses on pro-life versus pro-choice. The discussion should focus on further decreasing the occurrence of unwanted pregnancy by improving education and making birth control more accessible and affordable.

    • Starla says...

      Oh dear god

  130. Jen says...

    I’m a mother. I chose to become pregnant at age 32. I have a supportive partner. I had an easy pregnancy and complication-free delivery. After giving birth, I was able to afford good childcare and anything I needed to support the development of my child. For all intents and purposes, I have had no barriers to raising my child.
    It has still been the most consuming and emotionally/mentally/physically draining six years of my life. I cannot imagine doing this without WANTING the child.
    Being a mother has made me fiercely pro-choice. If you do not want to become a mother, NO ONE has the right to force you to become one. This is not about protecting life. This is about not allowing women autonomy over their own bodies. Men would never ever ever ever allow someone to tell them what they could do with their bodies. Why do we allow them to decide the same for us?
    Abortion is healthcare. Women’s rights are human rights.

    • Anon says...

      Thank you for writing this—it was really comforting to me, especially after reading through many of the other comments.

    • Alison says...

      Beautifully put.

  131. Amanda says...

    Thank you endlessly

  132. Amy says...

    Thank you for this. I am a reader, have not commented before. This is a time for women to stand bravely together. I am with you.

  133. KCW says...

    Thank you for this, Joanna. I know it must be hard as an Internet personality dependent on readers, sponsors and “likes” to take such a firm stand on such a controversial issue — thank you for speaking your mind!

  134. Kristin says...

    This is a great piece and so thoughtful and well broken down.

    These old, white, republican men are sick and they are the ones that need “mental help”. My body, my choice.

    A threat to any woman is a threat to me. I donated to The Yellowhammer Fund earlier today and hope that those who have the means to do so follow suit.

    • Nancy says...

      The law in Alabama was sponsored by a white woman (Terri Collins), and the governor is an old white woman. So, it’s not just old white men. It’s old white women, too.

  135. Thank you for sharing such important information.

  136. Molly says...

    Thank you for this post. I love your blog and I love that you do not ignore these important issues.

  137. Megan says...

    Think you left a bit of unintended text under this headline: Is Alabama the only state where this is happening?

    Thank you for speaking up!

  138. anonymous says...

    i am a tiny bite confused because even if a baby does have a heartbeat, you would all still be okay with the mother having an abortion. why argue about heartbeats versus cardiac activity? just be blunt: you think it’s okay to have an abortion up until the final weeks of pregnancy.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      “just be blunt: you think it’s okay to have an abortion up until the final weeks of pregnancy.” =
      that’s not at all what i’m saying here, which i think you probably do know.

      i’m just clarifying for readers that anti-abortion activists named their legislation “heartbeat bills” as part of their rhetoric because that makes an embryo sound like a living human being, whereas medically, at six weeks, the embryo doesn’t have a heart and doesn’t have a working cardiac system at all. it’s a yolk sac, not a human being. it’s the size of a pomegranate seed.

      clarifying information like this is important, especially when people are making decisions and forming opinions about policy. maybe people would support a “heartbeat bill” — but when they found out that there wasn’t an actual heartbeat at six weeks, they might change their minds about supporting the bill. so i think it’s really important to clarify that language as misleading rhetoric instead of any kind of medical fact.

    • tea says...

      I think another thing to remember about late-term abortions is that “abortion” is a medical term. there are many reasons, including the viability of the fetus, that a late term abortion might be medically necessary. Outlawing those abortions due to misinformation is deeply harmful. It is unbelieveably cruel to force families to carry unviable but wanted fetuses to term, which is what banning late term abortion does. So yes, speaking for myself – I do think it’s ok, because it’s none of my business.

    • Ava DuBell says...

      Hi Jo! I’m curious: when do you think abortion isn’t permissible. While I don’t like the tone of the above, I do agree with her. Based on your writings today and prior, I can’t imagine when you’d draw some line in the sand when it comes to this issue. What’s to stop people for advocating for abortion post-birth? It’s already happening overseas.

      Also, in the sincerest way, I would like to point out that an embryo is alive and it’s a human being. You may disagree, but that’s a personal belief and not rooted in any sort of science.

      Cardiac activity or not, it’s human.

    • OB says...

      Just to be blunt, your opinion, or even my opinion, do not matter.
      As a OBGYN and an abortion care provider, it will always be the woman’s choice.

      When the word “heartbeat” is used, it signifies there is a mature heart that is working to pump blood around the body to sustain life.
      At six weeks, the embryo is a cluster cells forming mature systems. At this time there is an immature cardiovascular system, that consists of a group of cells with electrical activity, which is the “heart beat”. That’s it. It’s cardiac activity that does not function at the capacity of a living human.

      In the end does it matter? If a woman’s choice is to discontinue the pregnancy, then she should provided a safe, accessible way to do so.
      It is not our decision, it is hers.

      Thanks CoJ for this informative article.

    • Roxana says...

      Joanna,

      I appreciate the way that you’re addressing this, even though I completely disagree with you. So, thank you for maintaining a respectful tone, even though it is hard (for everyone).

      However, I have to say, in your response to Anonymous you distinguish between a “living human being” and a “yolk sac,” where the latter is not a human whose life should be protected. This distinction is not only arbitrary (e.g. one could say that DNA is what makes us human, or I don’t know, any number of things) it’s also very dangerous when you consider people who have special needs or are severely disabled. There are plenty of people who are medically fragile and don’t have a “working cardiac system,” or people who can only live on a ventilator. Such individuals are entirely dependent on others, much like a fetus/baby is in its mother’s womb. What does this distinction make of the lives of the severely disabled or those who are so very medically fragile? That said, I get that at this point in time a “yolk sac” would not survive even with dramatic medical intervention (like a ventilator), but what if it could? What if science makes that possible? Then what? When does it’s life matter?

      It’s because of this that I think the argument you make about clarifying information as a point of rhetoric collapses in on itself. You are trading one definition (that of the lawmakers’ “heartbeat”) for another (“its a yolk sac”). Both sides are doing the same thing. And, either way, context matters, right? One medical professional would look at human DNA as being the distinguishing factor for whatever work they’re doing while another would say viability (whatever viability means, or whether it/the fetus/the baby/he or she can feel pain, etc.). I haven’t been to medical school, so I could be wrong about this, but I don’t think I am. In any case, I am critical of the way medicine is taught in the Western world but for reasons having nothing to do with abortion.

      So, while I agree that defining terms is essential to these debates, I think it can serve both sides as a smokescreen for what’s really at issue here: When are we protecting a human life and when are we ending one?

    • m says...

      Roxana, a six-week old embryo does not have any organs to carry out any vital activities, while a person with a disability has a heart that beats, a brain that responds to stimuli, and lungs that fill with air. Sure, these organs may be underdeveloped and in need of medical intervention, and the person may need extensive human care, but the comparison of a six-week old embryo to a person with a disability is wildly farfetched…

    • SM says...

      Roxana, if you’re talking about simply DNA then don’t your unfertilized eggs count as people?

      Also, you’re not a doctor, as you yourself admit. Why do you believe you’re correct even though you’ve stated your ignorance (to a doctor, no less)?

    • Lauren says...

      If I may say it, I’m pro-choice, but I wouldn’t call a six week fetus just a yolk sac; it’s a yolk sac that contains a (rather human looking) fetus! When I took medical ethics courses I remember that the arguments for calling a fetus a human were just as compelling as the ones against. Either way, I really don’t think you have to think that fetuses aren’t humans to be pro-choice!

    • Chloe says...

      Joanna, thank you for emphasizing the difference between “circulatory activity” and “heartbeat”. As an embryologist, it really grinds my gears when people deploy euphemisms like that to twist people’s emotions. Also, I want to note that 6 weeks gestational age (GA, how people normally measure the progression of pregnancies, dated from your last period) is a mere FOUR weeks embryonic age (EA, the actual age of the embryo), which many people don’t realize.

      At 4 weeks EA/6 weeks GA, the embryo is so rudimentary that it is transparent, barely recognizable (it looks like this: https://embryology.med.unsw.edu.au/embryology/index.php/File:Stage10_bf1c.jpg). As commenter OB noted, what will eventually become the circulatory system is, at this stage, a rudimentary system with immature blood cells pulsating through it. While I can see how this pulsation can be misconstrued as a “heartbeat”, it’s no more complex than what happens when you put cardiac cells in a petri dish – they like to self-organize into pulsating systems. Would we call that petri dish a “baby”? Of course not. You can apply this metaphor to many cell types – muscle cells will start contracting on their own, neural cells will send electrical signals to each other. Somehow, in the context of a uterus, our understand of what this means changes.

      Another point: People like to say that life begins at conception, and I do understand where that belief comes from, because on the face of it, that fertilized egg has a full set of genetic material. But the fertilized egg is not like an Ikea bedframe with all its parts ready to be assembled. There are so many more steps, each fully dependent on the previous one, each requiring the physical input of the mother. She’s the one diverting nutrients to the embryo; it’s her body establishing vascular and tissue connections to feed the embryo. At every moment, she is giving of herself to build and grow the embryo inside her. That is why we talk about viability – because you cannot begin to consider the embryo without considering the woman.

      Yes, we have to draw a line somewhere – but access to safe, accessible, non-judgmental abortion services reduces that grey area considerably. Women who can afford to have a safe termination at 10 weeks are not going to run into a doctor’s office at 39 weeks asking for a termination. Women who are enabled to make informed decisions about their pregnancy will that much less terrified by a second trimester fetal diagnosis. Above all, we need compassion and assistance for those women and girls in need.

      I became an embryologist because the process of a fertilized egg transforming into a newborn is a mind-blowing wonder. But you cannot even begin to appreciate or understand that without respecting the role of the woman. One of the main proponents of the Alabama bill, Terri Collins, stated that “[the embryo] is a person who deserves love and protection.” But you cannot force a woman, no matter her circumstances, to undergo gestation if you truly believe that SHE is a person who deserves love and protection.

      [One minor quibble: I think you may have slightly misquoted the article you link to? The embryo HAS a yolk sac, it is not *itself* a yolk sac. The embryo sits atop its yolk sac, during the early stages of development (we are like chicken embryos inside an egg, in that respect). Your point about it being the size of a pomegranate seed still stands – imagine a pomegranate seed with the consistency of the translucent, thin membranes you find in between the layers of an onion.]

      TL;DR : knowledge yields compassion; ignorance breeds fear

    • Krista says...

      Roxana, Come on now. Joanna did not say that any being without a working cardiac system is not human – so incendiary for you to suggest that. She pointed out that the “heartbeat bills” are falsely named – and on purpose! – in order to evoke a certain reaction from people. As people grapple with the decision of when life begins and/or becomes more valuable than the life of the mother, it’s fair to consider all facts – including the fact that biologically, there’s no such thing as a heartbeat at 6 weeks. No one (other than you, it seems) has suggested that any one fact is or should be dispositive of the existence of humanity. And while anti-choice advocates seem to love suggesting that pro-choice advocates want to take their pro-choice arguments and apply them to justify killing living humans – whether infants, ill or disabled (anti-choice advocates frequently mention all three) – that’s just rhetoric you all have devised. And it’s obviously crazy offensive.

      Take my word for it or take THE LAW’S word for it or just decide to have faith and compassion in your fellow humans, but PLEASE let’s just agree that no one is trying to legalize killing babies after they’re born or offing our most vulnerable community members.

    • Roxana says...

      M, SM and Krista,

      Thanks for you responses, but I think you’ve really misunderstood my point. I’d ask you to go back and re-read what I wrote. I’m not saying that a yolk sac and an embryo or whatever (choose your stage of development) are the same things. . . my point is precisely that when do you choose when it’s a human and when it isn’t? Both sides can decide that. So complaining that these bills are being characterized as “heartbeat bills” (when the baby doesn’t yet have a heartbeat) is silly, because both sides are defining their own terms in this debate. As OB essentially point out. I would ask all of you to carefully re-read what I wrote.

      M, your understanding of people who are severely disabled is very limited. You are wrong. There are plenty of people whose lungs cannot fill with air and whose hearts cannot beat on their own. But, again, you are misunderstanding my point.

      And, no SM, I am not a medical professional, but I am actually correct when I say that the medical world does use different standards or stages of development when looking to characterize something as “human.” They do this to fit their research or purposes. One doesn’t need to go to medical school to know or understand this. Additionally, one doesn’t need to go to medical school to know or understand that no, my unfertilized egg is not a human. Because it hasn’t been fertilized it would never grow on it’s own. Your distinction is absurd and irrelevant. Since you go so far as to chide me for admitting to not having an medical education, you would do well to at least have a basic understanding of biology.

      Oh, and who is the medical doctor whom I addressed? As far as I’m aware Joanna is not a medical doctor or has never said that she is?? I didn’t see OBs comment until now, and anyway, OBs comment has nothing to do with medicine, and she pretty much says as much herself. OB’s point is essentially “my body, my choice,” which is easily one of the worst arguments used by pro-choice advocates. . . it is not your choice. You can use your body to do a million things that are illegal and that harm or kill another person and the law (rightly) prohibits such actions and prosecutes them accordingly. For example, you could use your hands to hold a knife and stab someone to death. You could use your fingers to pull the trigger on a gun. Do you need more examples? The law does actually speak to how you can use your body. So saying “my body, my choice” just doesn’t make the cut.

  139. Anon says...

    I ended a very wanted pregnancy over a year ago for medical reasons. The fetus had a rare chromosomal abnormality that likely would not have been classified as fatal or incompatible with life (to the extent that’s carved out of any of these laws). I wanted to meet the baby she would be, nurse her, smell her hair – and not some perfect, unaffected version of her, either. I wanted her in my arms exactly as she was or would be, and I wanted to protect her. But I couldn’t protect her. So my husband and I decided to not bring her into the world. It’s still very raw and painful so I’ve not been open about it even though I know it’s important to speak now.
    But two things I learned which may be valuable to this discussion are: (1) despite being pro-choice, the decision we made is one I would have described and had described hypothetically at various times in my life as as “not the decision I would make” — the reality of the challenges ahead of this potential child, while most likely not fatal, affected me in a different way than I ever reacted to in hypotheticals; and (2) once I made my decision nothing short of actual impossibility would have stopped me (no threat of punishment to me or back alley care for myself could have convinced me to bring her future onto HER).

    One final note is that I don’t believe any woman needs a justification or to SHARE her justification for having an abortion – and no reasons are more worthy of protection than others. This is just one circumstance.

    • Kcw says...

      To your final comment — YES. One of the things that gets lost when we talk about rape, incest, fetal abnormality and other exceptions is the fact that they put the burden on the woman to justify whether she is entitled to exercise her right to choose — no woman should have to go before a judge to explain who impregnated her, under what circumstances, or whether a fetal abnormality is “bad enough” to merit termination.

    • Christine says...

      I’m sorry you went through that and I’m glad you were able to get the medical care you required at the time.

    • E says...

      Anon, I am so sorry for your loss. I read your words with my heart in my throat, as you could have been telling my story. My husband and I chose to end a very wanted pregnancy at 24 weeks due to a rare and serious – but not fatal – chromosomal anomaly. I received the very best medical counsel and care, because I am fortunate to live in a state that does not restrict a woman’s right to reproductive health care. Discovering the genetic deletion was a devastating turn in our pregnancy, and I would not wish the heartbreaking choices we faced on my worst enemy. But I am grateful that we had options, and as raw and as painful as our loss was and still is, it pains me further to consider the alternative.

    • Sarah says...

      Sending you so much love !

    • Kara says...

      I made the same choice under nearly identical circumstances. Thank you for sharing your story here. I am with you.

    • Anon says...

      I’ve never responded to a comment before, but while I have in no way been in your shoes, your dignity and graciousness compels me to do so now. I just wanted to let you know how generous I think it was for you to share your experience, how much I respect your choices, and that I am so, so sorry you, and your partner, have endured such sorrow. I’m sending only warmth and admiration to you and all those who have had to navigate such nuanced and complicated circumstances; I completely agree that none are obligated to share anything – but those like you, who do, inspire empathy and kindness, and I think we all need as much of that as possible.

    • Katy says...

      Well said about justification. Thank you for sharing what must have been a very difficult time and decision.

      I feel fortunate that I have not had to make that kind of decision because I don’t know if I am brave enough.

    • D. says...

      Thank you for sharing all this. It’s so important for people to hear about abortions that were done because they were necessary -medically or psychologically or ethically – and were the best choice for the baby. But also, entirely unwanted by the parents/mother if they had any other option. People hear about late term abortions and can’t fathom them. Yet, so many mothers would do the same given those heartbreaking circumstances like you’ve described.

    • Anon says...

      Katy, I’m the original poster. Just wanted to say that it was not at all about being brave. Bravery would be staring at two paths and choosing a frightening one over an easier one.

      There is no easier path in the situation my husband and I were in. Either we made a decision to intervene with nature or we would be looking in the eyes of a deeply loved eight-year-old girl someday knowing that we had a way, before she even existed, to prevent her present emotional or physical pain (or both). People will make different decisions in that circumstance based on their views and own life circumstances – and each path requires tremendous strength and compassion, but neither can be credited as being brave, in my view, because neither path is easier and you have to choose.

  140. Erica says...

    BRAVO, CoJ! ✊

    • Julie says...

      I also almost never post but need to share my story. I had a much wanted second pregnancy 5 years ago but sadly at the 21 week scan the baby was found to have a severe brain defect that meant if he lived through birth (unlikely) I would also never have another child. Five separate doctors recommended termination which is what is required where I live for a late termination. I have never been so sad & think of him every day…

      1 year later we were lucky enough to have a rainbow baby…

  141. Kechia says...

    This is a really well done piece and answers all questions, including the real reason for this law and it’s long term goal of attacking roe vs wade. Thank you.

  142. A says...

    Thank you so much for writing this. I am an immigrant woman who moved to US a few years ago. I am genuinely scared when I read the news.

    • Alana says...

      I too am an immigrant woman and am so grateful to be in the United States. Despite the issues we still need to work on as a country, it is still the best country in the world, especially for women.

  143. Joy says...

    I’m a physician. Thank you for speaking out about this terrible law and this important topic.

  144. CE says...

    I’m a longtime Cup of Jo reader, but on this topic, please answer me this: At what point in a pregnancy do you think it should be illegal for someone to have an abortion?

    • Anna says...

      That’s no doubt a complicated question, but for me I feel comfortable with viability as a cut off point (around 22 weeks). In the case of life threatening health risks to the mother or child, I support abortion beyond that point. Also, I think your comment is implying that because there isn’t necessarily consensus on this point, no abortion should be legal. I totally disagree with that. Humans face all manner of complicated situations and manage to come up with systems that work (gun control, assisted dying, end of life decisions are just a few examples).

    • Louisa says...

      I wonder this a lot, too. It seems like we’re on a sliding scale from black to white — and we have a word for that when it comes to colors (gray) — but we don’t have a word for that when it comes to living/non-living. We talk as if there’s a clear, scientific line between living and non-living. But there’s not. It’s gray. (C.f.: viruses, prions, etc.) So Roe v. Wade uses the idea of “viability” to decide that line. I like that distinction.

    • Krista says...

      The Supreme Court said “viability” and opined later on that viability may be 23/24 weeks. Pro-choice advocates are not seeking to overturn Roe on that point, although some of us disagree with it.

      In fact, I disagree with it. I believe abortion decisions should be between a woman and her doctor – always. I won’t engage in absurd hypotheticals about implausible situations, e.g., the 39 weeks pregnant woman who seeks an abortion simply because she changes her mind about having a baby. At that stage, these are real human beings facing heartbreaking situations – not movie villains or monsters – and it’s for me to judge.

      YET, I want to live in a society with workable constructs that keep peace and support functioning communities. So in exchange for participating in a society, this society, I accept that sometimes I will need to tolerate compromise and live within a framework that does not match my personal beliefs. So, no matter how passionately I believe that women and doctors are not monsters, and that a living woman’s life is more valuable than any fetus (and I’m pretty passionate about it), I accept Roe’s viability standard as the one we live under in this society.

    • Krista says...

      Oops typo. Above, I meant NOT for me to judge. Obviously!

    • Stacey says...

      I think these decisions belong with a woman and her health care provider. I trust them to make a medically and ethically sound decision based on the circumstances of the pregnancy. Late term abortions are not undertaken on a whim, they have to do with fetal viability and maternal health. They are a tragic last resort. We all deserve privacy and bodily autonomy.

    • Rosie says...

      I don’t think it should ever be illegal. I think it’s a decision that a woman should make with her doctor. I object to all restrictions on abortion.

    • Ramona says...

      I think that the hard part about setting a limit is that there are so many different circumstances under which a woman might seek an abortion at any point. In my state, the limit is 20 weeks. At my first doctor’s appt. during a planned and very much wanted pregnancy, when I was 10 wks pregnant (the earliest point when the doctors would see me), I took a routine blood test that came back with some disturbing numbers that led my doctors to be concerned that my liver was not functioning properly, and thus that it might be very unhealthy or fatal for me to carry the pregnancy depending on what was going on. And I still needed all kinds of tests and specialist appointments before we’d know–none of which could be scheduled quickly. I wound up having to make an appointment for an abortion as the 20-week mark was approaching because even though I couldn’t bear the idea of losing my baby, I also could not bear the idea of dying and leaving my older child. Thank God I got firm enough results showing that it was a genetic abnormality in the nick of time, and now I have the world’s sweetest little girl. I know there are plenty of other situations where people are not sure about the viability of a pregnancy, whether for mom or baby, and are waiting on second opinions or additional tests. So in some cases I feel like arbitrary time limits could result in women ending pregnancies that could have turned out fine. I think that the law has to trust that if given the freedom to choose, women will make the right choice.

    • Caitlin says...

      The whole point is that this is for no one but a women and her doctor to determine. There are so many different situations – medical problems for the mother, for the fetus, etc. that don’t show up early in pregnancy. It shouldn’t be something decided in courts. It should be something carefully evaluated by medical professionals who know the woman’s medical unique history.

  145. Jeannie says...

    Thank you to CoJ and to all the thoughtful people commenting. Just thank you.

  146. Pei says...

    Thank you for writing about such an important topic!!

  147. Megan says...

    Thanks for writing this, COJ team!! Such an important issue for us to take action on.

    I do think there is a slight editing error or out of place idea right below the question “Is Alabama the only place where this is happening?”

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      yes, thank you! fixed! xoxo

  148. April Phealton says...

    Hmmmm. I rarely comment on this site because it tends to skew too far left and I’m not terribly inclined to start a conversation that will end with folks labeling me “anti choice'” etc. But this issue is so prevalent right now….

    Based on everything I’ve read, we’re moving farther and farther away from science-based perspectives. I just read a comment on this thread where someone basically said that if the baby is inside of the mother, it’s not actually human yet. That’s illogical at best.

    Why do so many women feel it’s their right to decide when their baby is viable/human/worthy of life? Culturally, it seems that we’ve been told this story that we’re not free until we can terminate our pregnancies. In my mind, this degrades women so, so much. Our bodies are beautiful and miraculous, but their beauty is tainted when we argue we cannot be feminine without death.

    • Louisa says...

      I don’t know that “science based” definitions will help. I can imagine a definition of human that excludes any being that doesn’t breathe air (ie, a fetus). Or I can imagine one that is based on the kind of DNA you have (in which a fertilized egg that hasn’t implanted and has no organs at all is a human). Science constructs definitions to serve particular scientific purposes/models/debates (I wrote a dissertation on this!); but when it comes to abortion, we need a definition to serve a legal purpose. It can be informed by science, but science can’t tell us what is ethical here.

    • JB says...

      I too struggle with how illogical advocates of abortion can be. If a woman has been trying to conceive then they celebrate an early fertility test being positive. They cautiously make plans while hoping the little life continues to grow and will share they’re expecting a baby. If they suffer a miscarriage, they justifiably mourn the loss. However, a woman learns of a pregnancy that in unintended, inconvenient whatever and it’s ok to end that burgeoning life. Doesn’t make sense.

    • Christine says...

      Could you please expand on this line a bit more, “their beauty is tainted when we argue we cannot be feminine without death”? I have never thought that anyone wishing to have control over their reproductive choices is doing it in the pursuit of beauty or “being feminine”. It is having control over your own life, your own choices.

      But I’m sure I’m misunderstanding your point, so I would love some clarification. Thank you!

    • smk says...

      Why do so many women and men feel that they can make gut-wrenching, life-impacting decisions for other women? In my mind, THIS degrades women so, so much. Our minds are beautiful and miraculous, but their beauty is tainted when we take away the right of women to use their minds to make decisions that are best for them.

    • stacey says...

      What gives you the right to decide for another person? No one is telling you what to do or how to proceed. I am interested to know exactly what you mean by “science based perspectives”.

    • Brooke says...

      Thank you for your comment.

    • Daisy says...

      Why do as a Country that we feel that we need more guns than the population? Why are we being pushed this message thag owning guns is our birth right as a citizen of this country? Why should killing someone in the name of “Stand your ground” be ok but a woman cannot be allowed a choice whether or not she wants to bring a baby into this world?

    • Elisabeth says...

      Hi April. Here are some “science-based perspectives” from two OB-GYNs and a children’s hospital research scientist:

      “If you’re thinking about [a six-week embryo] as something that looks roughly like a person with something that looks roughly like a chest, inside which something that looks roughly like a valentine is going pitter-pat (or lubdub-lubdub), you’re picturing the wrong thing. As the OB-GYN Jen Gunter wrote three years ago, this is, more technically, ‘fetal pole cardiac activity.’ It’s a cluster of pulsing cells. ‘In the mouse embryo, for example, there is a definite cardiac rhythm in the tiny, little, immature heart at 8.5 days of development, but it is certainly not enough to support viability,’ says Janet Rossant, senior scientist and chief of research emeritus at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto. ‘It is just helping to encourage the development of an organized vasculature and circulatory system—a prerequisite for future viability but not sufficient alone.’

      That’s the other wobbly term of art here: ‘viability.’ In common parlance, people sometimes use that word to describe a baby far enough along in gestation to survive outside a woman’s womb. In humans, that takes about 24 weeks, give or take (every pregnancy is different, and so are the skill sets of every hospital and every neonatal intensive care unit). But that’s not what clinicians mean. ‘It means a pregnancy that, at that point in time, looks like it’s normal to continue,’ [Jennifer] Kerns [OB-GYN at UC San Francisco] says.”

      I trust science. You ask, “Why do so many women feel it’s their right to decide when their baby is viable/human/worthy of life?” My answer is that I trust science. My question to you is, “Why do so many people, including women, feel that it’s their right to decide that my life, my humanity, and my constitutional rights are less worthy than a clump of cells with electrical activity?

    • Hayley says...

      Our bodies are beautiful and miraculous and OURS. It is degrading when our autonomy is taken. Why do so many men feel it’s their right to decide when the baby is viable/human/worthy of life? Where is science in their approach? Plainly, there isn’t. They just want to ban abortion, period.

      We aren’t free until our bodily autonomy is a given. I would like to emphasize that no one actually WANTS, is EXCITED, to have an abortion. Abortions are last resorts to preserve our bodies, our minds, our lives. Also viability has a scientific threshold that is around 22-25 weeks these days.

    • Rosie says...

      If a fetus cannot survive outside of the womb it is still part of the woman’s body and does not have rights. It is not a baby when it is still inside your uterus.

    • S says...

      Thank you for being brave to speak up with something that most commenters disagree with, and saying it in such a gracious way. This is clearly such an incredibly controversial topic, for so many reasons, and like anything else controversial, being able to disagree graciously is SO important.

    • mb says...

      I disagree with the premise you set here:
      “Culturally, it seems that we’ve been told this story that we’re not free until we can terminate our pregnancies.”
      Historically, a woman’s worth and her social value have been based on her ability to bear children. The idea that a woman can have a life independent of that and that their life is valuable and worthy on its own is what pro-choice people believe. Terminating a pregnancy when it disrupts or seriously threatens the ability for a woman to have control of her life is what is considered freedom.

    • Julieta says...

      April: it is OK to view female bodies as capable of doing the most amazing things. But there is no beauty in a woman being treated merely as a vehicle for a life that is deemed worthier than hers. There is no beauty in 11-year-old girls being raped and then forced to carry a baby to term when they are children themselves. It is an indignity. It is inhumane.
      It is up to you to decide if you regard an embryo as a human being, and I respect that, but this is not the point of the debate. The point is that women are dying as a consequence of not being trusted to make their own choices. If pro-choice politics prevail, then no woman will be forced to have an abortion. But if abortion bans are passed, girls and women will be forced to give birth to babies they cannot support, babies who may never be adopted, unwanted babies, and women will die from unsafe procedures. If you want to reduce the abortion rate, as the post explained, there are so many other more effective actions that do not involve treating women as criminals.

    • Liz says...

      Women feel this way because some women have sex with men. They have sex for pleasure, and they should because feels good. And during the times in their lives when they are sexually active with men, there is always a risk of pregnancy. No birth control method is foolproof. Also during the years of their lives while women are sexually acitve with men, risking preganancy, they are getting degrees. They have careers. They have goals. They have families, from elderly parents to other babies for whom they are providing care. They are able to make these choices and follow these paths because they have access to birth control, information, and, if needed, safe and legal abortions. Women are not terminating pregnancies without medical assistance. And we have a pretty good grasp, from a medical perspective, on healthy fetal development and can make judgments and assessments about the viability of that fetus outside of the womb. Women choosing abortion to end an unplanned pregnancy do not take the decision lightly. They are not ignorant nor ill informed. They are choosing their lives, their paths, and their families over a fertilized egg and doing so before that fetus has developed systems which would allow it to survive, with medical intervention, outside the womb. Of course a fetus is human, but the incredible human body takes many weeks to knit together into a *human*. For women to be able to obtain higher education, work, travel, and decide when or whether to have a family, they need access to contraception as well as access to safe, legal abortions.

    • LT says...

      Why do our lawmakers feel it’s their right to decide what we women can and cannot do as far as our health decisions and reproductive choices? These are medical decisions to made with a doctor. We are not free if we are believed to be incapable of making our own decisions about terminating a pregnancy. Restrictive, illogical, unscientific laws degrade women so, so much. Our bodies are beautiful and miraculous but their beauty is tainted when we are told that our own lives and freedoms are secondary to that of an embryo or fetus we are carrying against our will.

    • Jill says...

      Hi April, I’ve lived in both far left and far right (and somewhere in the middle) communities, and have been exposed to all of the arguments. I can see how you might feel that the left has turned abortion rights into a strange and contorted ideal. But one thing that I have learned a lot about is the immense danger of making abortion illegal. In other countries where abortion is illegal, women are criminalized for having miscarriages. Someone can be 100% against abortion and still be criminalized for losing her wanted baby. I have very sweet Christian (also anti-abortion) friends who have experienced pregnancy loss, and it’s these very women that could be going to prison for just trying to have a wanted child.

      The discussion about when life begins will give a different answer to everyone of different views and faiths and interpretation of science. But a variety of issues including the health and safety of the mother make it important that women are allowed to have a legal procedure. With amazing sex ed and contraception, we can still reduce the rates of abortion. I don’t think people make these choices lightly – it’s expensive, many of of these states have many barriers to getting the procedure. But especially if you find yourself in the area of wanting less government control, the human body is a very dangerous place to give control. We can love all the beautiful babies and even the potential babies but also want to provide a safe and legal way for women to seek legal health care, including support in the case of a miscarriage. I wish life didn’t force us into a tricky situation like this, where the rights of a growing human however small could hurt the rights and life of the person carrying it. It’s hard and confusing, and sometimes easier to just make it clean and say that abortion is wrong. But I think we can trust that women who have convictions of faith or moral reasons will opt out of the abortion unless medically necessary, and allow the women who need to seek the procedure out of any reason they need are allowed to do so without being locked up. Many women who have abortions go onto mother other children, or are already loving mothers. I hope that makes sense and doesn’t sound condescending or one sided, it’s how I’ve come to wrap my head around it. Sent with love!

    • Samantha says...

      I am an educated woman, I have a demanding job where I am the only female on the leadership team, I don’t believe in religion, may want a family one day, and I also have unapologetically had two abortions – not because of rape, incest, or medical health issues but because of birth control failure. Having a child because it was unplanned is not how I would ever make one of the biggest decisions of my life. And what a man or a woman who holds some religious belief I do not share feels about this decision is of zero concern to me. I say this because I am not ashamed of my decision so I feel it’s important to not have to qualify it in a category of more ok in this scenario than that . It’s easy to shame others for decisions they have made or have yet to make because it does not impact you directly. When we start to erode a right for a woman to make choices that align with her belief system not yours, that line continues to move. I’m thankful that I had the option to made decisions about my life instead of having them made for me. I am scared and saddened to see this be chipped away at by politicians that don’t represent me in any way.

    • Marie says...

      To Stacey who said, “What gives you the right to decide for another person? No one is telling you what to do or how to proceed. ”

      This idea that we all have, and should have unlimited freedom to do whatever we want is false. Speeding is illegal, murder is illegal, buying and taking drugs is illegal, etc. We have a lot of laws that tell us what we can not do. And, ironically, like someone already pointed out, many people including cup of jo think we should have even more laws (gun laws). Also another contradiction, many of the same people who are chanting “my body, my choice”, are the same people who are now wanting mandated vaccines???? That makes no sense!

    • G says...

      Thank you April! I’m with you! Abortion is putting a wound on top of another wound.

    • M says...

      @Marie
      Referring to mandated vaccinations and gun control laws… people want that because not getting vaccinations and not putting a check on gun ownership can directly result in the taking away freedom to other people- like getting serious ill, hurt or dying and other direct harm to the general population.

    • LS says...

      In response to JB, I have been suffering from infertility for years. I had an ectopic pregnancy in October that ended roughly around six or seven weeks that I mourned as the loss of a child. I am 100% in favor of choice. I can’t speak for everyone in my circumstances, but when my husband and I mourned, we mourned the loss of a child we desperately wanted. One we were excited and emotionally and financially prepared to raise. One that would grow up knowing he was created out of and surrounded by love. When we finally get our next positive test and ultimately our baby, we will celebrate the same things. This is why I’m okay with abortion when a person feels it is the right decision for their body. I believe all children should come from that place I describe, and I trust other people to determine if that is not the case in their individual lives. Please do not distort my painful experience with infertility to support atrocious politics.

    • Marie says...

      @M
      Yes, abortion causes harm to people too. I can’t think of anything more harmful than death. This is why people are upset! By contrast, owning a gun does not equal death. But having an abortion always results in the end of life.