It’s Worse Than You Think
That doesn’t mean we get hopeless
Last month I wrote that America post-Roe would not be as bad as we thought, but a thousand times worse. We already know this decision will quite literally kill people, just as we know the most vulnerable among us will be targeted, arrested, and jailed. Feminists have been laying out this reality for decades.
But there’s a difference between saying and writing these things, and living through them. So let’s be clear what a country without Roe really looks like on a tangible, real-life level.
Getting care for a miscarriage could set off an investigation into how, exactly, that pregnancy ended. As Jia Tolentino pointed out in the New Yorker today, “abortion and miscarriage currently occur more than a million times each year in America, and the two events are often clinically indistinguishable.” That means while you’re in a hospital room, in the midst of losing a pregnancy, you could be questioned by a police officer or reported to the authorities by a suspicious nurse or doctor.
If you have an incomplete miscarriage, you could be denied treatment if there is a fetal ‘heartbeat’—even if that means you’d be at risk for sepsis or death. If you are pregnant and have cancer, your chemotherapy could be delayed or denied. If you develop a disease like the one I had, where your blood-pressure skyrockets and your liver starts to fail because of your pregnancy, doctors will be afraid to offer immediate help—worrying what legally constitutes you being sick enough to take action.
Prosecutors will be able to access all of your digital information: tracking your period, looking at your Google search history to see if you looked for abortion pills online, or scouring your text messages to find out if you expressed sadness or apathy over being pregnant. Fake online clinics will trick women into thinking they are buying abortion pills, just to be sent fake pills or reporter to the authorities.
Raped children will be forced into childbirth. Women carrying doomed pregnancies will be denied abortions, made to carry dying fetuses at the expense of their own mental and physical health.
Now that fertilized eggs are being afforded more rights than actual pregnant people, anyone who drinks or smokes or does something deemed dangerous during a pregnancy will be at risk of arrest for child abuse—or murder, if there’s a miscarriage or stillbirth.
If you help someone get an abortion—whether it’s driving a friend out of state or posting a tweet with info about how to buy abortion pills—you could be arrested. This is not hyperbole; it’s what anti-abortion organizations are explicitly suggesting for post-Roe legislation. They are going all in. Last month, a director at the Heritage Foundation tweeted his support of a proposal for "mandatory psychiatric custody" of women seeking abortions.
Republicans are coming for birth control, too: Clarence Thomas said as much, and they’ve already laid the groundwork for classifying contraception as “abortifacients,” claiming that anything that prevents the implantation of a fertilized egg is an abortion.
There is no overstating how bad this is, and how bad it will get. Conservatives and moderates would have us believe that women’s lives won’t change much in the wake of Roe being overturned—fuck, even Democrats are failing to rise to the occasion, placating us with poems and songs rather than fury and immediate action.
I’m not writing any of this to put salt in the wound or add to the despair I know a lot of us are feeling. But we need to know what’s coming, we need to be clear-minded about it, and we need to ensure that those who made this nightmare a reality aren’t able to run from it.
So be sad, and be furious. You can even be hopeless. But just for a moment. Then we need to make them own it. Every woman that dies, every child that’s forced into pregnancy. That blood and trauma is on their hands—don’t ever let them forget it.
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