My family’s move from Canada to the United States two and a half years ago came with much anxiety and trepidation.
I thought about living in Trump’s America, and about guns, school shootings, and the cost of health care. But never in my wildest, most fevered nightmares did I ever imagine I was moving my daughters to a place where they’d grow up having fewer rights than I or their grandmother did.
Usually, it’s not that hard to convince ourselves we’re safe. Bad things happen everywhere but statistically, they’re unlikely to happen to us. But all that’s changed with the Supreme Court’s repeal of Roe vs. Wade. Now, the bad thing is at our doorstep.
So how do I raise my daughters in a country that doesn’t respect them; a country that punishes them for having a uterus? How do we stomach living in a place that allows for the criminalization of abortion in the name of ‘protecting children’ but not the weapon used to slaughter them in their classrooms?
How do we go on living and believing in a country that would rather see us carry our rapist’s baby to term than allow us to terminate the pregnancy (and where the penalty for doing so is often more severe than the penalty for rape itself?) All of this is on top of the fact that health care is widely cost-prohibitive, and mandatory maternity leave and affordable childcare scarcely exist. In other words, the United States is now a country that forces women to become mothers but gives them no material support when it comes to carrying, birthing, and raising that child.
So, I ask, in all seriousness, without an ounce of sarcasm: what kind of a country is this? What kind of “Supreme” Court can claim to be pro-life, pro-children, when this is the world it’s creating?
Make no mistake: this is a war on women, and anyone who dismisses this claim as inflammatory rhetoric should consider that no one is talking about banning vasectomies. Also, because women are still – still – tasked with the lion’s share of childcare and domestic responsibilities (even when they hold full-time jobs themselves), forced birth, particularly if you’re already poor and otherwise marginalized, will ensure we remain trapped in poverty for generations.
And next time someone says, ‘well if you don’t want a baby, don’t have sex,’ allow me to point out that the states whose sex education revolves around abstinence have—drumroll please— the highest number of teen pregnancies.
As I said, I used to worry about the shootings. In 2019, the year we moved stateside, there were more mass shootings (417) than days of the year. As of June 2, not a single week in 2022 has gone by without a mass shooting (defined as incidents where four or more victims are injured or killed).
In my mind, this is a reason to be concerned. But every time my kids show apprehension, I reassure them that statistically, it’s unlikely to happen to us.
And when they ask how the shooter managed to get the gun (which must be illegal, right mom?) I explain the Second Amendment and America’s belief in the right to bear arms.
And when they press me on why someone would ever need or want that kind of gun except to kill people, I explain how the AR-15 has become—against all reason—not just a symbol, but the symbol of American democracy. In other words, it’s not the gun, it’s the point.
But on the repeal of Roe vs. Wade, I have no comfort to offer. No amount of spin, placating, or the surgical implantation of rose-coloured glasses can make this make sense. And like many of us, I’m tired. I’m tired of putting on a brave face and pretending everything’s going to be okay because I’m not sure it will be this time. Living in a country where abortion is no longer a constitutionally protected right is not okay and I can’t pretend otherwise. I’m angry, and I want my kids to be angry. I want them to get it, to understand that a handful of ivory tower lawmakers have not just denied but actively taken away their right to self-determination.
Simply put, I won’t cover for you anymore, America. I’m done pretending you’re the land of free expression and opportunity, and that there isn’t a gaping disconnect between what you claim to stand for and reality.
The repeal of Roe vs. Wade means one-half of the human race is no longer guaranteed the right to self-determination, the right to protect itself from harm. You don’t have to have a uterus or daughters to know this is wrong. You don’t even have to be pro-abortion to know this is wrong. Because – newsflash, if you don’t believe in abortion, you don’t have to have one. It’s a beautiful and elegant solution, if only we could all live and let live.
But that’s not the American way. The American way is to enforce our beliefs and our will upon others; it is to turn our backs on those who need freedom and autonomy the most, who need laws that protect and support them instead of holding their heads underwater.
Ironically, our move from Canada to the U.S. was about doing what was best for the family. But I can no longer convince myself that opportunities like travel, employment, and education are worth it. So many exciting new experiences are within my children’s reach, but if they don’t have fundamental rights, how much does any of it really matter?
Looking for ways to help your girls feel more empowered? Click here for some good reads for girls.