If you’re a firm believer in people’s right to determine their own reproductive destiny and find yourself extra-angry these days, you’re not alone. The recent backsliding on women’s rights we’ve witnessed in Alabama and seven other U.S. states, has many of us reeling. This strict new legislation basically criminalizes the procedure and treats anyone seeking an abortion or attempting to administer one as a criminal who could face life in prison. But this didn't just happen. The groundwork for this gigantic step backwards for reproductive freedom was initially taken two years ago.

After Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency, I vividly remember waking up the next day in a bit of an exhausted daze. I had stayed up late, watching the results trickle in, desperately hoping that what was materializing before my eyes would turn out to be a bad dream.

A man who had been recorded bragging about sexually assaulting women, “because they let you do it when you’re famous”, had just been declared the next president of the United States. Trump’s electoral campaign — replete with misogyny and dangerous messages against religious and racial minorities, transgender communities and immigrants — breathed new life into conservative political platforms and right-wing organizations, and normalized a war on progressive values, which usually go hand in hand with women’s rights.

We suddenly had a sitting U.S. president who believed that there should be some form of punishment for those who seek out an abortion, and a vice president who had stated that he intended to “consign Roe v. Wade to the ash heap of history.” We had a current U.S. administration that was about to reinstate the global gag rule on abortions and was working hard to de-fund Planned Parenthood — a major source of affordable healthcare for millions of American women.

As someone who diligently documented the relentlessly misogynistic attacks (by Trump and his supporters) on the first female candidate for a major political party, I cringed at what this all meant. The backlash against feminism and the advancement of women’s rights — particularly of female reproductive rights, which have long been attacked by the fiercely anti-abortion Republican Party and Religious Right — was now happening in real time and I feared the toxic braggadocio in his speeches revealed the worst was yet to come.

It did.

While not solely responsible, his rhetoric helped burst a dam, emboldening misogynists and sexists and those who want to curtail women’s rights to feel that they can do and say what they want with impunity.

Two years later and I’m so damn tired.

Constantly defending your right to self-determination is exhausting

I’m tired of having to watching women reveal in #MeToo detail how their rapes happened so all the perpetually questioning or incredulous #NotAllMen can start to believe them. I’m tired of watching strangers and friends alike sharing their deeply personal abortion stories, in order to convince strangers, whose opinions and input should be utterly irrelevant to their day-to-day lives, that they are entitled to their own reproductive decisions about their own bodies and their own futures.

I see people and politicians around me galvanized by what’s happening in the US, quietly promising partisans they would reopen the abortion debate if enough people wanted it — @ToulasTake

I’m tired of watching old white men who barely understand female anatomy legislate what my uterus can or cannot do as they attempt to make what should be a normal medical procedure as traumatic and painful an experience as possible. I’m tired of legislators debating the terms and scope of my own freedom, and what exceptions (Rape? Danger to my life? Incest? Fetal abnormalities?) justify abortion and what don’t. I’m tired of “pro-lifers” threatening those who have an abortion with the death penalty without even seeing what a laughable oxymoron that is.

I’m tired of our physical and emotional health being treated, once again, as an afterthought and as collateral damage, as we helplessly watch our bodies be treated as human incubators and temporary hosts, and a fetus treated as a person with more rights than we have.

I’m tired of misogynistic, “God-fearing” domestic abusers co-sponsoring some of the strictest abortion laws in the country and then going home to punch their wife in the face because she wouldn’t undress quickly enough for them to have sex with her — which I would more accurately describe as rape. I’m tired of people not seeing the clear-as-day, direct line between misogyny and a desire to control women’s choices and freedom.

I’m tired of watching “pro-lifers” do absolutely nothing to increase access to birth control or sex ed, the two factors that have irrefutably shown to decrease conception and, therefore, abortion rates. I’m tired of the forced birth crowd conveniently ignoring research that shows how states with stricter abortion laws have the highest incidence of both maternal and neonatal mortality in the U.S. Instead, they choose to focus on punitive legislation solely for women, while conveniently ignoring the number one cause of 100 per cent of all conceptions: men. Because, let’s face it, it’s never been about the “sanctity of life”, but about punishing and restricting women from having and enjoying sex without consequence. Because, if there are no consequences, how will these Jezebels ever learn?

Like writer and feminist Laurie Penny recently wrote, “We live in a society that is comfortable letting men get away with sexual violence but determined not to let women get away with consensual sex.”

I’m tired of living in a world where a woman simply wanting an abortion isn’t all the reason that she needs in order to get one.

For Canadian women, it’s our fight, too

By the way, I’m also damn tired of well-meaning Canadian men — columnists or otherwise — dispassionately telling us that this isn’t our fight and that Canada would never re-open the debate on abortion, as if to mockingly chastise us for expending all that girlish energy and anger on something so “meaningless.”

I’m tired of having men treat this as a moot point, not understanding that it’s not even about the remote legislative possibilities or whether it's a credible threat (we understand how governments work, too, thanks) but about the dehumanization and belittling that occurs when we’re forced to debate it at all. Calm and slightly patronizing assurances mean very little to me when I see people (and certain politicians like Maxime Bernier) around me galvanized by what’s happening in the U.S., quietly promising partisans they would reopen the debate if enough people wanted it. I'm tired of politicians like Conservative leader, Andrew Scheer talking from both sides of their mouth on this issue, both assuring us he won't reopen the debate and telling anti-abortion groups the opposite. And if you think he's just pandering to his conservative base, you're right. Forty-seven per cent of Conservative members voted against women's reproductive rights at the 2018 Conservative Convention. The resolution to support legislation regulating abortion may have been defeated, but by too narrow a margin for any of us to ignore it.

My body is not a political playground, my rights are not bargaining chips, and I don’t appreciate them being used to pander to those who would have them mean significantly less. Forgive me for allowing rage to overtake me when I see a 21-year-old homeschooled political novice like Sam Oosterhoff, who is half my age, proudly proclaiming he wants to make abortion “unthinkable in our lifetime.” Sit down with your bad self, kid! I am done pretending this conversation has to even happen and that I have to indulge your arrogance.

I’m done justifying my agency and my choices

Much of what’s involved in raising awareness about women’s issues is thankless, exasperating and exhausting work. It requires repetition, emotional labour, and facing the denial and dismissal of people who very often don’t want to see what’s in front of their faces because it ultimately threatens their own social status and privilege in this world.

This world is at a crossroads and a climate emergency is upon us. We have colossal, future-impacting decisions to make collectively and global issues to tackle. I no longer want to expend any of my finite energy having a debate on abortion. This should have been settled ages ago and I have no desire to see my generation or future generations revisit it. I no longer want to feel compelled (whether on social media or in real life) to converse with someone who feels I owe it to them to actually prove that my bodily autonomy means more than their personal beliefs. You don’t want an abortion? Great, don’t get one! But I’ll be damned if I’m forced to spend one more second of this too-short a glorious and busy life having to convince you of my personhood.

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Thank you Toula for the expert re-capitulation of the female side of the abortion issue.

Let me add some wider angles:
We live in a world crumbling under the unrestrained reproduction of the human species and its insatiable appetite for "things". The inevitable consequence of overpopulation is catastrophic decline perhaps even annihilation.
Homo erectus stands on two feet but appears incapable of controlling the organ he deifies for its capacity for erection. Were this not so, Viagra and its ilk would not be the most profitable pharmaceutical. Viagra is the proof that male entitlement to sexual intercourse is the sole religion that is universal. among men.

Male humanity is largely uninterested in, and frequently hostile toward its own offspring, escaping whenever possible from any significant responsibility in the nurture and rearing of same, shamelessly downloading the work involved on anyone, anything but themselves.

Birth control methods including abortion are anathema to men because once freed from the slavery of childbirth and child rearing, females are capable of changing the world and making males irrelevant for most intents and purposes.
Thus the full bore linear panic exhibited by men at the mere notion that females probably don't really need them to ensure survival of womanity.

"Viagra is the proof that male entitlement to sexual intercourse is the sole religion that is universal. among men."

Good grief. This is exactly the kind of over-the-top cancerous rhetoric that makes the public absolutely despise people like you. Just stop.

I don't think so. A lot of us actually agree with this message. I would go one step further. If we were to put something in the water to calm down men's desperate need for sex, we would have less violent behavior. Good luck in swallowing this pill.

First and foremost, I am a progressive independent female. I am emphasizing this so you don’t use the “you are a man and can’t speak on this topic” defence on me. I am also not a religious zealot. Now that I have cleared that up let me proceed. Let’s be very clear: abortion is in no way a birth control method. The concept of birth control is to stop conception, period. That is the purpose of pills, condoms, etc. The legal definition of abortion is: “the deliberate termination of a human pregnancy, most often performed during the first 28 weeks of pregnancy.” The issues with abortion, from a medical and ethical perspective, are: what is a human being and what is a person. A human being, according to science, is officially completed before the growth stages begin, which is around 8 weeks gestation. Therefore an embryo is a human being at its earliest stages at 8 weeks, before all its parts begin to grow. Personhood, however, begins at birth. Knowing those two concepts, society and individuals have to decide the value of each. That’s where problems arise and arguments ensue.
As an intellectual being, I can appreciate both sides of the argument, though I lean more towards the human being defence. However, I draw the line at fantastical unscientific un factual arguments, as is being abused by this journalist. In our society today, in Canada, there is virtually no excuse to practice abortion past 8 weeks of pregnancy, except in cases of rape, incest, or danger to mother’s life. We have ample access to birth control. We also have ample access to pregnancy tests, whether over the counter or lab tests. If you had sex, get tested. It’s really simple. We no longer live in the dark ages, in Canada. Women know their anatomies, we have sex education in schools, birth control is readily available, etc etc.
It’s no longer about a woman’s autonomy over her own body, but rather about how and when we define life and its value.

Whether you like it or not, abortion is in fact a form of birth control. Birth is when the gestation and fetal development periods have ended, and the baby travels down the pelvis and enters the world outside the womb. Anything that stops (i.e. 'aborts') this process of birth prior to the actual birth is essentially controlling birth. Ergo, abortion is a form of birth control.

Contraceptives are a form of conception control, not birth control, although we use the term 'birth control' in the vernacular to describe contraceptives. Strictly speaking, however, contraceptives are conception control, not 'birth' control. Abortion is intended to stop birth, not to stop conception, by definition.

"Virtually no excuse" is itself an excuse for ignoring or glossing over what happens in real life, where there are accidents, and unplanned pregnancies. Life happens, and women need to have practical options in these cases. No woman wants to have an abortion, it's not something they look forward to. They do so as a last resort. Women need safe access to this last resort as a choice over their own body, and not have it taken away from them. For if it is taken away, this last resort will be much worse and unsafe.

You are factually incorrect. The medical definition for birth control does not include abortion. “Birth control is the use of any practices, methods, or devices to prevent pregnancy from occurring in a sexually active woman. Also referred to as family planning, pregnancy prevention, fertility control, or contraception; birth control methods are designed either to prevent fertilization of an egg or implantation of a fertilized egg in the uterus. Birth control methods may be reversible or irreversible.” I did not make up the medical definition. Show me a medical definition that includes abortion, not one that includes your opinion. I do agree that accidents happen. Contraception is not always reliable. Women need to have choices. And women do. Very few women only realize they are pregnant after 8, or perhaps 12, weeks. As stated previously, there are many options to confirm pregnancy very early on. When I said “no excuse”, I meant no excuse to go past 8 or 12 weeks (unless you are an young teenager, in which case this can become an entirely different ethical conversation). No excuse to not use contraception. I may not have the statistics, but I am confident enough to say that both men and women often get lazy about contraception, or get caught up in a passionate moment. That is not accident but rather personal responsibility.

And I wasn’t implying that abortion should be banned. Only that it should be limited, except for special cases. But most importantly, I was explaining how arguments such as this journalist makes, and many others, are fallacies. Their views on abortion are not completely factual, but more so opinions, not unlike the other extreme such religious zealots who are vehemently anti abortion.

I happened to think there may be a couple of “excuses”. What if she lives in a rural community or one hostile to abortion or both? There are women all over the country who would have to travel to have this done. So, maybe there is no excuse, but there are real life reasons, and circumstances.
Of course life must be respected, but quality of life is a factor. To save a fetus so the baby may lead a hellish existence is just backwards.

I am not sure I understand your point? are you implying that in rural Canadian communities women have no access to any form of birth control? If so, I find that very hard to believe. Please provide evidence. The only such communities I can think of is native northern communities where even healthy food is hard to access. In such cases, I agree we need to ensure that safe birth control is accessible.
You are right that quality of life for a baby is an important factor when considering abortion. In such cases, early abortion may be the better option. But the issue is what defines quality of life? That is an ethical dilemma. I find it hard to believe that most women who have abortions are truly in situations where the baby would be living in, as you stated, a hellish situation. Again, I don’t have the data, but I wouldn’t be surprised if most women choosing abortion are far from living in hellish situations.