I have found this blog incredibly difficult to write because while I have felt the need to write it and share what I can professionally add to the dialogue, I feel like this issue has been significantly whitewashed, and I don’t want to add to that narrative. While cis white women like myself are feeling this oppression for the first time, many others have felt this their entire life, and I do not want to forget that in this blog post.
Since the overturning of Roe v Wade, life has looked a little different. We are uncertain, scared, and angry. This blog is for you. I want to empower you to take care of yourselves.
As of Tuesday, June 28, 2022, Tennessee restricted access to safe abortions by the trigger law called the Heartbeat Law. The heartbeat law states that aborting an “unborn child with a heartbeat” is illegal. This means an abortion cannot happen after six weeks into a pregnancy. This limits abortion access significantly because most people do not know they are pregnant till the 6-8 weeks mark. Though the Heartbeat Law is the only law right now in Tennessee, the Human Life Protection Act will soon be in effect sometime in August. This Act eliminates abortion, ultimately saying that life begins at fertilization. I am not sure if emergent procedures will be exempt from this upcoming law, but it is safe to say access to women’s healthcare has been restricted, and the uncertainty of what is to come is hard to sit with. I do not share this information to scare you but to empower you. Knowledge is power, always.
On the topic of power, I want to give you just a little power back by offering you ways to take control of how you care for yourself right now. Of course, there are dozens of ways you can do this, but in this blog, we will speak on just three ways you can empower and care for yourself right now; the first is through gathering, the second is setting limits, and the third is to advocate for yourself.
This can be an isolating time for a lot of people. Whether your family doesn’t adhere to the same political thoughts as you, you feel like this issue has been whitewashed and your voice is not being heard, or even just not having someone to talk to about your fears. All of this can make you feel powerless and lonely. But, you have the opportunity to gather. One way to gather is to protest. Not everyone feels safe protesting or doesn’t want to, and that’s okay. But, there are more ways to gather besides protesting, and all of them are effective. Gather with friends, coworkers, and research organizations fighting to keep abortions safe and legal. These are just a few ways to gather and advocate for change while gathering support for yourself.
It is great to gather and research and be educated in knowledge, but there is also a need for rest. Rest can feel like a privilege for many people, but it is necessary. We all need rest, and you are allowed to take it when you need it. For those who feel overwhelmed by the media and the constant conversations, you continue to have around the overturning of Roe v Wade, limiting social media might be the right way to care for yourself. We all need to breathe and recharge to function, and you are allowed to restrict your news and social media intake to help care for you. One way to do this is by subscribing to newsletters that give you news updates in a morning email briefing, which can be the only news you intake for the day. I know the New York Times offers free daily newsletters and a company called The Skim. Other news outlets offer something similar if these do not work for you.
Another way to set limits is to advocate for yourself. For example, if you feel overwhelmed by the amount of conversation about the overturning of Row v Wade, ask your friends or family to limit the discussion to only new information. This boundary tells your loved ones that you understand the importance of the topic while also asking for limits on having the same conversations repeatedly. Another way to advocate for yourself is by looking into your support systems. For example, ask your doctors what they support; if they do not adhere to your values, The Works Counseling Center can offer you a list of other doctors that align with them. Finally, it is also important to advocate for yourself in therapy. While therapists do not have to answer any questions you ask, you need to know if the safe space you have built in therapy is genuinely safe. Your doctors and therapists are there to support you. If you feel they cannot offer that support, you can move on to other people who will.