This Thanksgiving, I am giving thanks for abortion access and the people who defend it. As abortion care continues to be decimated throughout the country, there is never a more urgent time to appreciate comprehensive reproductive health care.
In 1975, the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s co-principal founder Anne Nicol Gaylor wrote a book titled Abortion is a Blessing. An abortion activist, Anne co-founded one of the oldest abortion funds in the nation and helped countless women access care before abortion was legal. In her book, she explained, “The stories of the hundreds of women that I have counseled personally, and the thousands of women from all over the country that I have talked to on the phone, have resulted in my clear understanding that abortion is a positive thing, a cure, a blessing.” (You can read the book online here.)
Although written nearly 50 years ago, these words are as relevant as ever. To be clear, abortion access has never been equitable in the United States. Religiously rooted anti-abortion laws, including the Hyde Amendment, have made abortion heavily restricted for marginalized communities. However, these inequities were exacerbated after Roe v. Wade was repealed on June 24, 2022.
As of this writing, abortion is banned or heavily restricted in 21 states. And even within those states, legislation has been enacted that bans people from driving out of state for care or helping others find an abortion – Texas and Idaho are examples of that. Other legislation has been introduced that would prevent people from searching for abortion information on the internet. Religious interests are seeking to make abortion pills, an extremely safe and effective option, illegal.
Abortion bans are not just about abortion as a procedure — they target bodily autonomy and human rights. Specifically, they are about controlling bodies. However, abortion bans are not just about bodies but also about controlling one’s ability to make decisions about their own life. The bans punish people for having sex, for forgoing parenthood, for focusing on their career and education, for deciding that they don’t want more children, for being assaulted, for being poor. More to the point: Abortion bans punish women for being human beings.
Like Anne Nicol Gaylor, I see abortion as a blessing. Because abortion access is not just about reproductive health care. It’s about affirming one’s right to be a fully, autonomous person. Abortion access liberates people from Christian nationalism.
That’s why I am thankful for abortion access.