So this is it, a moment that feels both sudden and unexpected, yet at the same time marks the culmination of a decades long struggle: Roe v. Wade has been overturned, and just a little over a month shy of my seventeenth birthday. I know it seems funny and ignorant- putting those two events together, side by side, as though they hold equal moral and political gravity- but in my small world, the one where I am the center, the sun, it feels as though they hold the same weight. Indeed, these two entities, one that marks my liberation from moody teen into an almost-adult, the beginning of the end of my childhood, and an exciting time of learning and discovery, and another that conveys a new era of oppression in the lives of myself and so many others, feel very at odds at this unique point in my life, like two magnets pulling me in opposite directions.
This summer so far has felt so special to me, everyday like the opening credits of a coming-of-age movie. I wake up each morning feeling inspired and rejuvenated, as though the sunrise has provided a new opportunity for me to reinvent myself and explore the possibilities of who I am and what I want to become. In the past few weeks, I have spent long, never-ending hours in the car, gotten caught in the rain more than a few times, started my first ever job, flown half-way across the country by myself, met new people, and watched countless sunsets, and yet nothing, no singular experience from a laundry list of firsts felt more defining than the moment on June 24th when I learned that my reproductive rights have been stripped of me. It was like after a precious era of basking in my new found independence and freedom as a soon-to-be high school senior, my senses finally caught up to me. I remembered that I am a woman in 21st century America, and unfortunately that means that no, I may not explore my sexuality, or date around, or be rebellious, or make mistakes, because instead, I must live with the constant and gut wrenching fear that with a pregnancy, my goals, my identity, my passions, and my plans could all be stripped from me, just like that.
While on the one hand the recent Supreme Court decision makes me angry and hurt and pushes me to protest and fight, another, less courageous part of my mind simply wants to go back to being the kid I felt like a few days ago. I want to sit by the pool with my friends. I want to worry about college applications and how much money I’m spending on overpriced lattes. I don’t want to think about humanity’s impending doom, and how in many ways, my rights are more restricted now than they were for some women 50 years ago. And I also recognize that I am able to do this: if I wanted to just “stay out of politics” and pretend sexism doesn’t exist and go about my life as a naive high school student, I could, and that comes from a place of great privilege. I was born into a supportive, progressive, upper-middle class family. If at any point I needed an abortion but could not be provided with one in my current state, my parents would pay for me to travel to get one; I know this with absolute certainty. In this way, I understand that this ruling does not impact me in any comparable way to the way it impacts women of color, women in low-income communities, and women in the South.
But despite not being impacted in a practical sense, I am still struggling greatly to come to terms with this new reality; I feel almost as though my life has been split in two. Everyday, I struggle to choose what world I want to live in: do I wallow in fear and hurt as I watch the government demolish the small fraction of equality women stand on, or do I go about my life as normal, excited for the future and content in the present moment?
My thoughts on Roe v. Wade being overturned are, as you now know, rambly and disjointed, and my experience is just one in a sea of different stories out there. I encourage you to seek out the perspectives of other women, many of whom are in a different, less privileged place than I am, and may provide more profound commentary than I am able to. I am nevertheless grateful for a platform in which I am able to share my perspective, probably more for my sake than any of yours.