The real impact of a 20 week abortion ban

“I have always wanted a little girl…and I knew it was going to make our family complete.”

“I felt that it was OK to be happy about this pregnancy….and we were, we were just over the moon and thrilled.”

“We’ve always tried to come up with unique ways of telling my parents and family and friends, and so this time we had Alex [his son] hold up a sign that said ‘future big brother'”.

These are the words of a couple, Danielle and Robb, who later became the victim of Nebraska’s awful 20-week abortion ban when Danielle experienced complications in her pregnancy at 22 weeks. Now, based on their infuriating experience of being told they could not access the medical procedure they needed because of an arbitrary 20-week abortion ban, they are mobilizing with Planned Parenthood against similar laws in Arizona and Georgia.

Planned Parenthood’s “Women Are Watching” campaign has posted the video below, with Danielle and Rob’s nightmarish story.

Getting stories like this out in the open is incredibly important for building support for reproductive justice. Although I’ve written before about the dangers of presenting only a “perfect victim” of anti-abortion laws, i.e. a white, heterosexual couple with a wanted pregnancy whose medical complications forced them to require abortion, it’s clear that we need more real life stories of real people’s experiences with arbitrary and ridiculous policies, so folks can see the effects of their gleeful spree of bans and restrictions. The key is to present a wide range of experiences, and not privilege some over others. Danielle and Rob’s story should certainly enrage us, as members of a movement that aims to promote and protect women’s health and rights. But they should also remind us of the need to continue our work to advocate for abortion access for ALL women, not just so-called “perfect victims”. The pro-choice movement can’t progress its agenda by dwelling on exceptions — it’s got to start setting the agenda and making the rules. Maybe then we can be on the offense (how about a “Think Long and Hard Before You Try to Get in the Way of Reproductive Justice” bill that mandates a 2-week waiting period before you can submit anti-choice legislation) rather than the defense in some of these state battles.

If you agree that the 20-week ban in Arizona and Georgia must not happen, sign on to Planned Parenthood’s petition in solidarity to help keep radical and arbitrary anti-woman ideology off our bodies.

Brooklyn, NY

Lori Adelman started blogging with Feministing in 2008, and now runs partnerships and strategy as a co-Executive Director. She is also the Director of Youth Engagement at Women Deliver, where she promotes meaningful youth engagement in international development efforts, including through running the award-winning Women Deliver Young Leaders Program. Lori was formerly the Director of Global Communications at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and has also worked at the United Nations Foundation on the Secretary-General's flagship Every Woman Every Child initiative, and at the International Women’s Health Coalition and Human Rights Watch. As a leading voice on women’s rights issues, Lori frequently consults, speaks and publishes on feminism, activism and movement-building. A graduate of Harvard University, Lori has been named to The Root 100 list of the most influential African Americans in the United States, and to Forbes Magazine‘s list of the “30 Under 30” successful mediamakers. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Lori Adelman is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Partnerships.

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