This last presidential election was the most divisive in my lifetime, and one of the hot topics was abortion. I vividly remember watching the third debate, and wondering why someone would need a late term abortion, but also assuming that surely it would not happen that late in any statistically material way because someone just changed their mind about their pregnancy. I wanted to learn more.
Less than a week after the debate I stumbled onto this story in Jezebel, which consumed my attention and brought me to tears. I occasionally rubbed my growing belly to reassure myself that things were still going well in my pregnancy. Little did I know then, Donald Trump would be elected on November 9, and we would learn that Grace was not viable on November 17th. The loss of Grace, and the governmental threats to my reproductive rights are impossible to exact from one another. My feelings about abortion weren't so clear before that. But now that I understood what a late term abortion looked like, and was about to experience one myself, I found myself grieving and furious with not just the awful hand that had been dealt to Grace and ourselves, but also the one that the government was handing us: a judgmental and intentionally painful process that was beyond insulting given our circumstances.
By coincidence I later virtually met the writer of the Jezebel article, and enthusiastically shared that her story was key in motivating me to share mine. And now again, Erika is stunning me with her eloquence, vulnerability and exceptional ability to unpack the complicated and articulate a messy emotional and legal situation in poignant and relatable ways.
To shine a light on New York's Reproductive Health Act (RHA) S2796 bill, Erica wrote this excellent article in Rewire (later discussed in Jezebel as well). I could have pulled quote after quote from Erica's words, as they resonated so strongly with me:
The Reproductive Health Act (RHA), S2796, which Christensen is advocating, does three things: (1) It takes abortion out of the penal code and puts into public health law; (2) it allows for abortions after 24 weeks in cases of non-viability, and in cases where either the life or health of the woman is at risk; and (3) it allows for advanced practice clinicians (APCs) to administer abortion care within their scope of practice.
As Christensen points out, "The Roe decision hinged on the notion of viability, only allowing states to limit abortion access after a fetus was viable, which is generally considered around 24 weeks. In our case, our baby would never be viable". While I agree with all of the things the bill does, the bill allowing for abortions after 24 weeks in cases of non-viability is sufficient for me to believe this bill is incredibly important, and it's critical that it be heard by the New York State Senate.
If you feel like I do (that this bill is a common sense approach to making abortion laws in the state of New York more accurate, inclusive of all needs and thus pro-life, and common sense), here's what you can do, regardless of where you are:
If you're in New York:
The end of the legislative session on June 21. It is crucial that pressure is put on not only Sens. Flanagan and Hannon, but all of the senators. With that, here are four steps:
- Identify your district and senator here.
- Write/call your senator and express your support for the bill, and more importantly, for a vote on the bill.
- Get vocal on social media (RHAVote.com).
- Focus on the whole state. Got a friend in the Hudson Valley? Their senator is on the fence. Know someone out on Long Island? That’s where Flanagan and Hannon’s districts are.
Not in New York? Share, share, share! Please share this with your friends and family and ask those in New York to be engaged. Every little bit counts and makes a difference, and you never know when the person impacted could be your sister, daughter, friend, or you.
You can find the homepage for the RHA here, and read Erika's piece in Rewire here:
New Yorkers, we need to act quickly: There's a bill making its way through the state legislature that can help people like me, who are the faces of abortion statistics, to access the care we need in our home state.