Tuesday, October 4

Abortion is a Queer Issue: A Call to Action this Mothers’ Day [COMMENTARY]

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My discomfort with the commodification of Mothers’ Day intensified this year as non-birthing politicians continue to make decisions about birthing bodies. The news site Politico stirred the Equality Ohio offices and the entire nation on May 2nd by publishing an initial draft majority opinion suggesting that the Supreme Court intends to overturn the almost 50-year-old Roe v. Wade decision. Equality Ohio sent an email to our statewide list within 24 hours and has continued to meet with partners in reproductive justice and elevate actions. 

In my work as Communications Manager with Equality Ohio, it is my role to elevate the narrative of the movement. This time, I need to speak personally. For my family, it has been an emotional week. I spent about an hour crying in my car in a Target parking lot on Tuesday, the day after the leak. It didn’t take me long to realize that, under this ruling, I would be dead. 

I had my life-saving d&c abortion at 13 weeks with twins. This was about a year before my wife and I got pregnant again with the 2-year-old twins we love and raise today. Under this ruling, I would have had to stay pregnant, risking my life and keeping a pregnancy that was not viable. Both fetuses had a heartbeat at less than 20% and were barely sustaining—there was a 0% chance of survival. My doctor told my wife and I confidently that I would not live if the impending miscarriage ensued. The fetuses were bound for stillbirth, and I was bound for death. 

Having an abortion was a devastating decision that my wife and I made privately with our medical providers. It was one of the hardest things we’ve ever been through—so physically and emotionally painful. My abortion came after a wave of miscarriages. It made my subsequent pregnancy and new parenthood experience difficult to fully enjoy. My wife and I will never forget our unborn, any of them. It is unconscionable to think that we or any person in our situation could be stripped of the medical options and privacy needed to consider them in such a vulnerable moment. 

Ann Jarvis, a first-wave white feminist from Appalachia, founded Mothers’ Day in 1858. She founded the holiday in response to high infant mortality rates—still an issue in the United States. After the Civil War ended, abolitionist Julia Ward Howe called for Mothers’ Day to protest the horrors of war. She held the popular first-wave feminist belief that (white) mothers deserve a political voice. Today, the soul of Mothers’ Day reflects a myriad of experiences and traditions, including the more expansive and inclusive Mamas’ Day. 

Some people believe the current commodification of a singular Mother’s Day waters the more accurate history down. I prefer the plural narrative. Mothers’ Day began as a collective movement, not a day to scapegoat the oppression of people with wombs. We have seen inaccuracies like this happen across the narrative of marginalized experiences, from watering down the radical work of Dr. King to the fight for honesty in education we are battling in Ohio right now. 

It’s also worth remembering that it often takes LGBTQ+ families longer to have children than a heterosexual couple. My wife and I spent several years and thousands of dollars trying for our family. Whether it is through foster care, adoption, assisted reproductive technologies, surrogacy, or verbal honor, it generally takes longer for queer people to establish a family. I was 40 when I gave birth for the first time. Mothers’ Day can be a difficult time for those struggling with fertility issues. It can be hard for anyone who has lost their parents or been disowned by them. It is a stark reminder of the family love we desire but do not have.

I see Mothers’ Day as a call to action. Our rights are inextricably connected. This current historical moment is about more than reproductive choice. It’s about the very foundations of a system that isn’t working for most of us. It is about what needs to happen to change that system. Mothers’ Day is a plural, not a singular term. It is a day intended to improve the lives of birthing people through health and peace. 

Let’s rally together and ignite the true meaning of this holiday. Calls to action for us all this Mothers’ Day: 

  • SUPPORT Ohio’s only statewide abortion fund that provides access and support to critical reproductive healthcare.
  • FOLLOW organizations that fight every day for reproductive justice for breaking news and policy updates, including Planned Parenthood Affiliates, the Ohio Women’s Alliance, Pro-Choice Ohio, Faith Choice Ohio, and URGE. You can also follow our linktree for updates.
  • SPEAK UP about the dangerous trigger bans pending in the Ohio Statehouse (HB 598 and SB 123). Contact House Speaker Bob Cupp and the Committee Chair (Rep. Wilkin), and contact the committee. Contact Senate President Matt Huffman and the Committee Chair (Rep. Stephen Huffman), and contact the committee
  • REMEMBER that LGBTQ+ parents may choose to celebrate one, both, or neither parent on Mothers’ Day. If you have an LGBTQ+ parent in your life and you’re unsure about wishing them a happy Mothers’ Day, ask if and how they celebrate rather than assuming.

About Author

MD Spicer-Sitzes is the Communications Manager for Equality Ohio. MD is an accomplished writer with success building relationships via equitable frameworks. They hold a master's degree in Urban Sustainability from Antioch University Los Angeles. In 2018 MD developed a course on how to create LGBTQ+ affirmative policies and programs in the fertility sector. MD is married and a twin toddler parent.

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