Read Farah's experience in a post-Roe world.
As if being a woman of color in the state of Mississippi isn’t bad enough, now the overturn of Roe v. Wade is an added concern. The reproductive rights of women are being challenged by a law coming out of the state I call home, and I am alarmed at the possibilities.
Mississippi is one of 13 states that has a “trigger” law in place which means that abortion would be banned as soon as Roe v. Wade is overturned -- not that abortion-access was widely accessible in these states before. The overturn of Roe v. Wade eliminates the option to end a pregnancy in my state and it forces women into unwanted, and potentially dangerous labor.
Mississippi leads the nation in high maternal death rates, 22.1 per 100,000 births, compared to the national rate of 17.4 per 100,000 births. Women of color, in particular, face an even steeper battle at staggering rate of 51.9 deaths per 100,000 births.
The Supreme Court’s decision was devastating to hear, not to mention the equally terrifying state laws that have come as a consequence. Knowing that the rights to my body are now left up to the old white men who make up the majority of legislators in Mississippi, is deeply concerning.
Of course, you could travel to another state depending on the specifics of anti-abortion laws, but this option is not practical. Abortion was already extremely difficult to obtain for the lower and working classes in Mississippi.
There is a lack of access to clinics and physicians that the state says are "qualified", according to the state, to handle abortions, and other reproductive health care. For example, in Pontotoc, Mississippi, women must travel to surrounding counties in order to give birth because the hospital in town does not offer those services. While this is not abortion related, it demonstrates the lack of access to reproductive health care. Also, interstate travel is expensive and getting time off for this unexpected travel might be very difficult. Marginalized groups in Mississippi are the ones greatly affected in this instance, contributing to the reduction of quality of life for these families.
For me, the overturning of Roe v. Wade shows me that my rights as a woman can and will be challenged. It denies me, and other women in this country, autonomy over our own bodies. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito’s alarming majority opinion, in the decision to overturn Roe, has forced me to think about how my life would look in the upcoming years.
Using the same logic that was laid out in the court's opinion, much more than abortion could be made illegal. To a woman of color in Mississippi, where even some aspects of reproductive health care via telehealth are illegal, this poses a severe threat to my life. That is, if my parents did not live in California.
It’s well known that California is a abortion-rights state that is very protective of the reproductive health of its citizens. I have come to experience that reproductive health education starts at an early age. I did not get the chance of going to school in the Golden State, but my brother did. He is in the fifth grade and has already had a sexual education class taught by a nurse. This was shocking to me considering that I have only ever had one sexual education class, which was a total of two hours in the eigth grade and taught by a P.E. coach.
Sex education is vital to the reproductive health of youth because it allows children to understand the way their body works. Understanding how pregnancies happen and how to prevent them is key to lowering the number of unwanted pregnancies; it's also essential to have access to birth control.
In the state of Mississippi, easy access to birth control is not available for youth. There is no telehealth option, and to obtain birth control you must go to a gynecologist. If you are a minor you must go with a parent.
The facilities required for reproductive health services just are not widely available in Mississippi. Abortions are not protected, sexual education is not adequately addressed, and birth control is not widely accessible. This is a recipe for disaster.
That these issues not being taken seriously is extremely irresponsible for a state so adamant about banning abortion. Mississippi is known for being a generally poor state, so why should families below the poverty line be forced to have another mouth to feed?
The ban on abortion shows that not only do lawmakers not have any regard for the lives of women, but they also do not care about what happens when the nine months are up.