Right to Basic Healthcare

 This is going to be a political post just so you're aware. 

Our neighbours to the south are at it again. For the land of the free, they are sure are making it difficult for their citizens to be free. And this time they are mixing the right to healthcare and women's rights.

If you haven't heard, here's a quick fill-in-the-blanks. Earlier this week, a supreme court draft was leaked. The draft was signed by Justice Joseph Alito, the contents of that draft are what has me and a lot of other people really upset. 

Roe vs. Wade was a decision made by the supreme court in 1973. In it, the justices decided that a women's right to a medically safe abortion was protected by the US constitution. Justice Alito's draft wants to overturn that decision. Now, this is just a draft, no decisions have been made. This is the first step towards one though. 

Now, the background of this issue has many layers. There are many opinions, many excuses for opinions, and lots of righteous people. The amount of debate and attention this ruling has and is receiving should tell you a bit about what is actually happening here. I am not going to get into the long history of this and instead focus on why this matter needs to stop being politicalized.

When I was 14 or 15, my best friend and I were out shopping at a mall downtown when she told me that she thought she might be pregnant. I bought her a pregnancy test and she took it in the far left stall of a busy bathroom. Once the test confirmed her suspicions, we went to the rooftop garden and hid in a corner. I sat and cried with her. I don't know how long we sat there. I do know that we made a plan, together. We talked about the sexual health clinic just down the transit line. We called and made an appointment on a payphone, and then we both went home. She had to talk to her boyfriend and I had to get my head around the whole thing. 

I went with her to her appointment and sat in the lobby when she went in. While I sat in that lobby I watched as many women and men from many areas of life came and went. Some to pick up free condoms and lube, some for the same reason as my friend. All there just to have some basic needs taken care of. When she came out, referral and appointment in hand it felt like the right thing to do. She was 15, he must have been the same age. 

When the day came, the three of us met at the hospital where the abortion would take place. We all took transit, none of us old enough to drive. She checked herself in, and we all lied saying that she had a ride home. When her name was called, I went in with her I don't know why it was me and not the boyfriend, but I guess that doesn't matter now. We sat in the room and cried together again. When the doctor and nurse came in they were warm and comforting, with no judgment. The machine sounded a lot like a vacuum and it was over so quickly. 

When she was ready, we left. They took transit south, I took it north. We never really talked about it again. 

I am not really in touch with her anymore, she went to a different school, we made different friends, and eventually, she moved. Thanks to social media, I know that she married, had a couple of children, and divorced. She seems happy. My goodness, I hope she is. 

Having the abortion gave her a chance. I can't look into a crystal ball and see how different her life would have been if the option hadn't been there for her. I can look at statistics though. By the law of averages, the boyfriend would have stuck around for a bit, and then left. She would have stayed with her parents, or if they had kicked her out, she would have needed to go on government assistance. Her life and that of her child would probably be one of poverty. 

In the conversation about my friend, there are a few major elements that need to be addressed. She got pregnant accidentally. There was no assault, no incest. Her appointment was at no cost to her, as was the prescription for birth control that she got at her aftercare appointment. She was lucky. There were no protestors trying to stop us. She was treated with respect, and she was taken care of in a clean hospital. No coat hangers, no beatings from someone trying to make her miscarry. No table set up in a basement. No scene like in Dirty Dancing. Baby's dad didn't need to come and save her from a potentially life-ending infection. 

Modern-day abortions don't look like the picture we all have in our minds. For the most part, a pill is taken and the body does what it does. Women's health is everyone's health. Women who don't have access to birth control, whether financially, location, or other factors, are lost to a cycle of poverty. The protestors who talk these women out of abortions do nothing when it comes to the actual raising of the child. They don't offer to help with groceries. they don't help the mother access work or daycare. 

Making abortion illegal causes a domino effect of problems. I can't get into them all here. I am not going to speculate on what else this could cause, because this is terrifying enough. I would bet that everyone knows someone who has either had or thought about having an abortion. It's not up to anyone to police the reason behind the termination. It is up to us to ensure that access to healthcare is complete and non-judgemental. 

As you read this you may be asking yourself why I care about something that is happening south of our border. I used to think that our countries were so different, that the issues like these would never be an "up here problem". That we cared more about each other. Then the pandemic happened, then the convoy happened. 

I have a 14-year-old daughter of my own now, and I hope that she will never need to access abortion care. But I need for her to have the option if she chooses it. In my mind, this shouldn't even be a discussion. If you don't like abortion, don't have one. But don't tell anyone else that they can't, you don't know the circumstance. And frankly, unless you're the one raising the resulting child,  it's none of your business.


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