I was 30 when I became pregnant with my first daughter, Nora.
I always knew I wanted to be a mom. Watching my body morph throughout pregnancy, and using my body to feed and nourish my child after she was born, was nothing short of a miracle. It was amazing to me how our bodies could literally change and grow people inside them.
It was in pregnancy that I became more aware of my body than ever. Not just the magic that it can create; but the importance of protecting it. I understood firsthand what it felt like to have something growing inside you; something that would change your life forever. I also understood on a much deeper level how one person’s happy experience can be another person’s lifetime of trauma.
Now, as a parent of two girls, I constantly navigate the world of encouraging my daughters to respect and listen to adults, while also being able to confidently assert their body privacy and independence. Any parent who’s had this conversation knows how challenging it can be to explain the gray area to a five-year-old.
Today, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to strike down Roe v. Wade, its landmark 1973 decision to protect our right to choose to have an abortion. This news is already being met with protests and actions, further igniting one of the most polarizing and emotional debates of our generation in Wanderful’s home country.
As a global collective of women travelers, it may be obvious to some on what side of the debate we settle. I have been on the receiving end of hundreds of stories from our Wanderful community members; stories about being parents, and stories about making the choice not to be parents. The topic of abortion is not easy. It’s incredibly emotional and personal. It’s also why we firmly believe that we must have the autonomy to make those choices for ourselves.
There are some more things that we know:
We know that limiting abortion legally does not stop abortions from happening, and only risks more life. An article published by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health shared that, according to the World Health Organization, 23,000 women die from unsafe abortions each year, and banning abortion in the U.S. would lead to a 21% increase in the number of pregnancy-related deaths overall.
We know that access to safe abortions is a public health issue. The World Health Organization added comprehensive abortion care to its list of essential health care services. Unsafe abortions not only cost us life; they also cost our health care systems millions of dollars in post-abortion treatments.
We know that, now, there are many people across the United States whose next trip may be out of state just to be able to get what should be a routine medical procedure. And that there are many more for whom this will not be an option.
We know that abortion is healthcare. And limiting access to safe healthcare for anyone—no matter who you are or where in the world you find yourself—is wrong.
It is easy for travelers to fall into the habit of seeing the world as filled with unexpected discoveries and hidden gems. But the truth is that this same world is one of local politics and histories. It is our responsibility to engage with the realities of the people who live everywhere we go, whether that means simply listening to their stories or rethinking how our choice to travel and the way in which we do it engages with their trauma.
I hope you take a moment to read the articles I’ve included above, as well as those below, that can help shed further light on travelers’ experiences with abortion:
- I Had an Abortion Abroad and I Have No Regrets (Wanderful)
- Four Women Reflect on Traveling Out of State for Their Abortions (Conde Nast Traveler)
- Large numbers of people may travel to other areas if Roe v. Wade is overturned (NPR)
- Why Planned Parenthood Matters to Travelers — and Needs Your Support (Wanderful)