by Seattle City Councilmember Tammy J. Morales
When I was 21 years old, I had an abortion.
I had just graduated from college at the University of Texas at San Antonio. I was waiting tables, making $2.15 an hour plus tips. I had no health care coverage and no savings. I was also waiting to hear if I had been accepted to graduate school. I had my entire future ahead of me, and I was eager to begin the journey toward my career. I was not at all prepared to be a parent.
The morning I went to the Planned Parenthood clinic, I felt sick. I was so nervous, so scared, so unsure if I was really ready to have an abortion, even though I knew it was the right decision. I also knew the clock was ticking.
I walked through the rows of people shouting at me and checked in at the front desk. Then I headed straight to the restroom and threw up. The nerves didn’t go away, but I felt better even if my hands were clammy and my heart was racing.
Compared to what some people go through, I feel like my experience was completely unremarkable. In fact, I was so lucky I had access to abortion care; not just the ability to pay for it, but also people to check in on me afterwards and take care of me.
I haven’t slept very well since the draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade was leaked. My thoughts turn back to that Planned Parenthood in San Antonio — how Republicans will soon shutter that clinic, how a 21-year-old just like me in Texas will be forced to give birth, how the Supreme Court is set to vindicate the vitriol of those people standing outside berating me as I made one of the most difficult decisions of my life.
I know I’m not alone. Millions of us are feeling angry, distressed, anxious, fearing that future generations will somehow have it even worse than we did.
Today, I wanted to share my story so that people know this is a fight that is deeply personal to me. As such, I will continue to fight to make sure that everyone who wants access to abortion care gets it.
Now let’s talk about what this is really about. This move from the Supreme Court and the conservative right isn’t really about protecting life. It isn’t really about supporting motherhood and keeping babies safe. If it were, we’d have universal pre-natal care for parents; we’d have universal childcare and pre-school; we’d have paid family leave and a national living wage so that no one who works 40 hours a week is in poverty. But that’s not what we’re hearing about from the right, and that’s because what this is really about is controlling our bodies.
We know what they’re up to — the right wants to force people to have children whether they want to or not; whether they can care for them or not; whether the health of the parent is at risk or not.
We know what they’re up to — they want to come after gay marriage next; to come after transgender rights next; to come after the ability of gay families to raise children next; to limit access to birth control and other health care needs next.
We know what they’re up to — the right wants to make sure that immigrants, refugees, People of Color, and low-income people are restricted as much as possible in making decisions about their own bodies, their own families, their own communities.
My office is leveraging every resource available to us to protect abortion services. We are lucky to be covered in Washington. However, this is unfortunately not the case for some of our neighboring states. Because of this, we are exploring a range of options including increasing funding, safety, and legal protections for those who come to seek abortion services from out of state.
At the same time, there’s only so much that our city council can do. If we’re going to win, we need everyone to stay engaged and stay organized. Ultimately, no single tactic will win this fight. From organizing in Washington State, to creating a medical safe haven for folks coming from out of state, to voting out any politician who stands in our way in Washington, DC — we will have to do everything, everywhere, together. Our most basic rights depend on it.
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Tammy J. Morales is a councilmember on the Seattle City Council, representing District 2.
📸 Featured Image: Councilmember Tammy J. Morales with her fist raised while speaking at a rally for abortion rights at Westlake Park on May 13, 2022. Photo courtesy of Councilmember Tammy Morales.
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