Abortion Is Mental Health Care
If Roe v Wade is overturned, we will see a mental health crisis among women.
Trigger warnings for domestic and sexual violence.
As I write this, a battle rages in America. A battle between conservatives who, in the 1970s, were conned into fighting against a woman’s right to choose, and the rest of us who understand the horrific ramifications if Roe v Wade is overturned. People are protesting all over the nation, many carrying signs that read “Abortion is healthcare.” Abortion is also mental healthcare.
After Todd Akin made his ignorant statement about pregnancy resulting from rape, I created a Facebook page entitled “We Are Legitimate.” I would receive messages every day from women who had been raped by strangers, partners and husbands, and family members. And many of these women had become pregnant.
I began thinking about some of those women after learning the Supreme Court was poised to overturn Roe v Wade. I thought about *Jane, whose father began molesting her when she was a toddler, then moved on to raping her as soon as she hit puberty. *Jane became pregnant at 14 before abortion was legal. She had to confide in a friend’s older sister, who found *Jane a place to get an abortion. *Jane was lucky-the person performing the abortion knew what they were doing, and *Jane survived. *Jane told me if she had not been able to receive an abortion, she would have taken her own life.
I was contacted by *Susan, a survivor of domestic and sexual violence at the hands of her husband. *Susan recounted her worst beating to me, hours of punches and kicks and screaming that culminated in rape because she had asked her husband to get a vasectomy. *Susan didn’t want to bring a child into a violent marriage, a marriage in which she was trapped. *Susan did get pregnant, she called Planned Parenthood and was able to receive a safe, legal abortion without her husband finding out. Planned Parenthood also found *Susan a domestic violence crisis counselor who helped her leave her abusive husband.
These are just two of the many women with whom I interacted during my time running “We Are Legitimate.” And these are just two of the women who shared their stories of becoming pregnant by rape, and how having access to abortion saved their lives.
Abortion is mental healthcare. If Roe v Wade is overturned in the next days or weeks, allowing states to ban abortion without any exceptions, we will see a mental health crisis explode. If women are forced to give birth, no matter the consequences, no matter the events that caused the pregnancy, women will suffer severe mental health issues.
Abortion must remain safe and legal in this country, not just for the physical health of women, but for their mental health as well.