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How Anti-Choice Legislation Affects Us All


Restricting abortion is inextricably a LGBTQ issue because we have a right to bodily autonomy just as much as anyone else.

You're out at dinner when you glance at your phone and your eye catches the date: It's the 28th, a couple days after when you were supposed to get your period. You remember you recently started a new birth control, so it's feasible it could just be late. Plus, you have PCOS -- a common hormone disorder -- so maybe your body is just a little out of whack as it adjusts to your new medication. You're not too worried but think maybe it's a good time to check in with your doctor.

The next day, you call to schedule an appointment with the OBGYN, just to be safe. You tap your foot and bob your head while the line plays a jazzy number. When the receptionist finally comes back on the line, he tells you there isn't an appointment for another three weeks. You begrudgingly agree and make a mental note to push the meeting you have scheduled at work. You wonder, why aren't most doctor's offices open when people are off of work? You shrug.

Three weeks later, you enter the OBGYN's office and share your concerns. They give you a pregnancy test just in case. It's likely the missed period could be from a number of factors. You do the whole peeing in a cup ordeal and wait while the doctor leaves. Alone in the chilly room, your mind starts to wander. You think about the emails that have piled up since you've left the office but remember at least there's that cute yellow loveseat that's waiting in your Amazon shopping cart. Maybe it's time to buy some pillows to match.

The doctor comes in and sits down, pulling her chair up to yours. She's talking and all of sudden you hear the words "You're pregnant." Just like that, everything gets very far away.

Your ears become hot. Your stomach drops. Suddenly, your throat becomes sandy and painful. Your hands start to tremble. You can't look the doctor in the eye as she's saying words you can't afford to hear.

She talks about your options -- which if you are living in a number of states in the U.S. have become severely limited.

This scenario is not unlike what many people face across the country. An ordinary occurrence can turn into a crisis all because of anti-choice legislation. With restriction on reproductive rights and access, women, transgender men, gender non-conforming people, and non-binary people who can become pregnant all face restrictions on their bodily autonomy. Every day as people attempt to receive routine medical care, they are harassed, berated, and threatened. Under more restrictions, things could get worse.

Recently, there has been a re-introduction of "abortion bans." These bans aim to legally restrict safe and medical abortion procedures as soon as six weeks into a pregnancy, when most people do not have the slightest idea they are pregnant.

In the past few weeks, the states of Ohio, Alabama, Mississippi, and Georgia introduced bills that legally restrict abortions when a fetal heartbeat is detected. While these laws are not yet in effect, the governors of Ohio, Georgia, and Mississippi signed these bills into law, signaling their utter disregard for the rights of an individual to make their own decisions about their body. Alabama's bill has come under significant scrutiny because cases of rape and incest are not exempt. Each of these bills criminalize abortion months earlier than the current constitutional standard of viability for a pregnancy.

Make no mistake -- these bans are an attack in a long battle. It's not an attack on just women. It is an attack on non-binary and trans people who, too, can become pregnant and require the same care. It is an attack on Black and brown people who are already at greater risk of maternal mortality. It is an attack on the disenfranchised. It is forcing harm onto our communities. Forcing people to give birth will increase poverty levels and maternal mortality rates. With laws like these, people will turn to unsafe procedures and will be forced to put their own lives on the line because of these restrictive laws.

The LGBTQ community is often no stranger to uncomfortable healthcare experiences. The transgender community, for example,faces higher rates of poverty which limits their access to healthcare. Furthering restrictions on abortion affects transgender men, gender non-conforming, intersex and non-binary people who can become pregnant and already report experiencing hostility during their pregnancies because of their gender identity. Additionally, lesbian and bisexual youth are noted in multiple studies as being more likely to become pregnant than their heterosexual youth counterparts.

Restricting abortion is inextricably a LGBTQ issue because we have a right to bodily autonomy just as much as anyone else. Many LGBTQ people are faced with hard medical decisions, including having an abortion. What each person wants for their body is up to them and no one, no other person, should have the right to take that away.

We have survived through carelessness, through epidemics, and through massacres. But I ask, when will it end? When will we be able to walk into a hospital and know we are in good hands? When will be able to stop relying on Gofundme's to afford medical necessities? When will we be able to make our own medical decisions?

Where is our freedom to make decisions about our own bodies? Not only to love who we want to love and be who we want to be, but to receive proper medical care and the freedom to take care of ourselves, mentally and physically? If this is the land of the free, where is our freedom?

Sunanda Tamrakar is a GLAAD Campus Ambassador and junior at the University of Pittsburgh. Sunanda studies economics, political science, and English writing.

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Sunanda Tamrakar