Women have been faced with inequality since the beginning of time. Today, their rights are still being oppressed, along with their healthcare rights as human beings. Specifically, Walgreens announced a few weeks ago that they will not be distributing abortion pills, such as mifepristone, in states where GOP AGs (Grand Old Party attorney generals) object. The nation’s second-largest pharmacy chain also confirmed it will not sell abortion pills in several states that remain legal. This decision was based on the consistent harassment in letters by nearly two dozen Republican state attorney generals who threatened legal action against the drug store.
As a young woman myself, I have experienced this oppression throughout the 22 years of my life. If anything, it has grown since I have gotten older. Whether it be from following an outrageous dress code or consistent gender stereotyping, the lack of healthcare rights takes me over the edge. Abortion pills have helped numerous women in uncomfortable and life-threatening situations. This pill is a basic healthcare need and right for women in ANY situation. After all, it is our choice–not the government’s.
One of the main problems associated with this issue is that it increases the gap of inequality post-Roe America. Not only this but as I stated previously, being able to purchase an abortion pill at a pharmacy and not through a clinic is a basic right for women. Abortion pills have allowed women who are 13 weeks along or less not to have a surgically induced abortion. Surgical abortions can cause more pain and emotional trauma to the patient, many outside sources say.
Personally, this is an issue I hold near and dear to my heart. When my grandmother was pregnant with her first child, she knew that it would be a high-risk pregnancy. She had trouble with endometriosis her entire life, which affected her getting pregnant. Knowing this, when she finally got pregnant, she was ecstatic and ready to start a little family. Sadly, when her due date came around the corner and she went into painful labor, she almost passed away. The doctor advised her previously that this could have happened, because of her issues. But being the strong-willed woman she is and wanting a child for so long, she went through with it. However, this story takes a heart-wrenching turn–after giving birth to what would have been a beautiful baby boy, he passed away. I remember her telling me how heartbreaking it was to bury her precious newborn baby. I still remember seeing the grave with his name “Mark Antony” titled over the shiny marble–the grave, which my family still visits today. Knowing the pain my grandmother went through during the birth and the emotional trauma she still holds with her to this day, I wonder if a pill would have prevented this turmoil. Nevertheless, I couldn’t imagine being able to meet a woman who has shaped me into the woman I am today.
Knowing that other women have had a similar experience to my grandmother and families have lost their daughters due to this, I can’t grasp how the government and one of the nation’s largest pharmacies agreed to not distribute abortion pills. The pills themselves do more than just prevent an unwanted pregnancy—they also save women in these life-threatening situations. Likewise, as someone who suffers from anxiety and depression, I can only imagine the emotional turmoil that comes along with a newborn’s death due to a life-threatening pregnancy.
The consequences of Walgreens banning abortion pills are severe. Specifically, if other drug stores like CVS also hop on this bandwagon, then women will have no choice but to find unsafe or illegal ways to induce an abortion. One example of this occurring is stated by the World Health Organization, which claims about 22 million unsafe abortions take place each year worldwide, resulting in an estimated 470,000 women dying from complications of unsafe practices. Knowing this and the fact that women who seek health services after an abortion or seek help after a miscarriage may be prosecuted or imprisoned, then we have no other option but to seek illegal/unsafe procedures.
Likewise, another example of a consequence is a 10-year-old rape victim was forced to travel for an abortion. This story made national news and has caused a political firestorm ever since. According to Time, the girl could not legally receive an abortion in Ohio due to the state’s “ fetal heartbeat” law. While this occurrence did nothing law-changing-wise, it is heartbreaking that a 10-year-old child almost had to go through the emotional turmoil of having her rapist’s child. In retrospect, if this happened to another girl or woman, and she could not receive the pill due to the timestamp and law, the impact and emotional trauma would have been the same.
Overall, it is obvious that the repercussions of Walgreens banning abortion pill sales have and will cause nothing but severe complications to women. As a basic healthcare right and need, it is evident we as women are progressing nowhere with our rights and specifically our healthcare rights as human beings. The banning of the pill at Walgreens is most likely the start of a domino effect—possibly having all drug stores in the nation ban abortion pills. Whether it be seeking unsafe/illegal abortion procedures or having to suffer through the agony of enduring unwanted childbirth that is due to numerous reasons (life-threatening, rape, high-risk maternal death of a child, or even just unwanted pregnancy), women will have no choice but to put their life endanger to receive the healthcare treatment(s) they need.
With this being said, the options to overcome this issue are unfortunately limited. What we can do as women is continue to protest for our natural-born rights. Whether this be at Capitol Hill or your local Walgreens, you can begin a protest like our ancestors or family members did in the 1960s-1970s Women’s Rights Movement. While Walgreens may not change its mind on the issue, we can definitely make a statement for other drugstores who possibly could ban the pill in the future. Another thing we can do is create a safe space for all women to come together if they experience complications as such. Not only do we need to provide these women with options, but we need to make these options SAFE and DISCREET. Not getting the government involved in this so-called “safe-space” is our main goal. After all, the womanhood oppressed since the dawn of time must stick together and support one another.