Abortion: one word that brings about more controversy than any other. With so many Americans standing on either side of the fence surrounding the topic of abortion, it should come as no surprise that when Chelsea Handler admitted to having two abortions as a teen, the internet was in an all-out frenzy. Every article, including the origin of the story on Playboy’s website, brought about both pro-lifers and pro-choicers eager to express their opinion on Chelsea’s past choices. Many of the comments proved to be even too right wing for some right wingers, but one cluster of comments stood out amongst the rest:
“She can do what she wants in her personal life, but why would she ever admit to it?”
On June 27th the Supreme Court struck down a Texas law that severely restricted access to abortion in the state. For reference, when the law passed in 2013, the number of abortion clinics in Texas (the second largest state in the country) dropped from forty-two to nineteen. That’s nearly 269,000 square miles being limited to nineteen clinics offering abortions – a massive obstacle for women seeking help. Now that Texas is looking at a brighter future for women’s reproductive rights, many people are struggling to come to terms with the reality of the situation when it comes to abortions.
Our country swallowed the bitter pill that was this past GOP race, listening to endless babble from the candidates about what they deemed appropriate for women’s healthcare. We listened to Donald Trump say that he would bring legal ramifications to women who had abortions and we grimaced as he went back and forth between claiming to be pro-life and pro-choice. We cried together when time and time again we watched as the right wing tried tirelessly to defund Planned Parenthood, hoping that the facts would overshadow the bias towards the organization.
So, on the heels of the Supreme Court ruling, Chelsea Handler decides to pen an op-ed about how, as a reckless teenager, she became pregnant twice and terminated both pregnancies. She says that she has no regrets about having two abortions because she knows that she was not fit to be a parent at sixteen years old – she says that she is not even fit to be a parent now. It is that kind of blunt reality that should put things into perspective for most people but, since we are living in a time where everyone is offended by everything, she received the backlash appropriate to 2016.
Now let me tell you why criticizing Chelsea Handler is wrong.
Women have come so far in such a short amount of time; we have obtained the right to vote, we work alongside men doing the same jobs that we were once denied, we consistently fight for pay equality, and we have the right to choose what we do with our own bodies. Think about how all of that came to fruition – think of all of the barriers we have broken and the hurdles we have jumped. Now, close your eyes and think about a world where women are able to do all of the aforementioned things but have to abide by a rule set forth by a group of elderly men dictating what we can and cannot do with our own bodies. That is not a world that we will allow ourselves to live in. Chelsea Handler publicly spoke out about a choice that she made, a choice that women across the country are able to make freely, and she deserves respect. A successful woman who has created a life – a legacy – for herself stood up and said, “this is what I did, and I’m not sorry”, and quickly became a woman who other women can look up to and not feel ashamed about the choices that they make.
“It’s okay if you think it’s not right for women to have abortions — but it’s not your problem, because we decide. We have 7.3 billion people on this planet. Anybody who carefully decides not to become a parent — let alone a bad parent, which is what I would have become — should be applauded for making a smart and sustainable decision.” – Chelsea Handler
Women should not be burdened with guilt for choosing to do with their bodies what they want. Women should certainly not have to drive hundreds of miles to have access to safe reproductive healthcare. And, more importantly, women should not be silenced by an extremely old notion that, should they choose to have an abortion, they are to internalize their experience.
– Jessica Natale for The Untitled Magazine